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03Dec
2010
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At Home Family Fun Without Screens

I believe that families need a complete break from TV, and other screens, on a regular basis.

Having Family Fun Nights allows families to get together, bond, communicate, co-operate, share and participate actively in stimulating activities.

There are a huge number of excellent activities that families can engage in together, such as board games, card games, dramatic play, craft, art, building, cooking, reading books or magazines,  exercise and more.

To create a fun night, tell your children and teenagers, well in advance, that the TV and other screens will not be available for use on a particular night. Explain your reason for this, and ignore any whinging or whining.

Ask your children or teenagers, in advance, what they would like to do, and get your children to help to find, borrow or buy the relevant materials for the night. If they are not sure, you could entice them by suggesting some suitable activities.

It’s important to have some choice, so that the children are motivated to join in. If a child says that they won’t play, get them to suggest a non-screen activity that they could participate in, on their own, or with others. If they’re really reluctant, they could invite a friend over. Forcing, nagging or shouting at them to join in is bound to backfire!

The only rule that needs to be followed is that any screens are out of bounds for the evening.

If you are playing a game that requires instructions, it’s important for a member(s) of the family to teach the others, patiently and effectively, how to play the game, preferably at the start.

Creativity is a vital experience, which needs to be fostered as much as possible. It is therapeutic and empowering, and allows for individual difference and talents. It is not a good idea for members of the family to instruct others on how the creation should be done, or how it should look.

Families that plan these screen-free nights will be practising important skills of negotiation, conflict resolution, turn taking, sharing, encouraging, thinking and problem solving.

They will learn many new physical, intellectual, linguistic skills as well as emotional and social abilities whilst having great fun. The family bond will strengthen in a healthy and enjoyable way.

Once you have organised one night a week and seen the enormous benefits, you might want to increase the number of nights with no TV or screens, and let other families know of your positive experiences.