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  • Articles and Tips: Parenting

  • Active Kids are Healthy Kids

  • Great nutrition is only half the battle for healthy kids; activity takes them the rest of the way.

    Screen Their Screen Time.

    Limit their screen time.Screen time is the time children spend in front TVs, computers and video games-a growing amount, and problem, in many homes today.

    "When I ask my patients how many hours per day they watch, I often hear four or more hours on school days, and six or more on weekends," says Barbara Robinson, RD, MPH, pediatric nutrition specialist at Hasbro Children's Hospital.

    Parents can cut back on their child's screen time by cutting back on their own. Most children, especially young children, want to mirror their parents' behavior and so less parent screen time usually means less for a child. In addition, it's important to make family activities a habit when kids are very young, as this enforces spending time together and time away from screens.

    Rainy day? No problem.

    Rainy days are prime time for excess screen time. Family recreational centers are great places to go; however, there are plenty of ways to for kids keep active at home.

    Robinson recommends trying old-fashioned games. These might include drawing a hopscotch board on a foam mat, or building a playhouse or fort by draping blankets over a couch or chairs.

    In a child-friendly room, kids can play with small, inflatable balls or even try bowling with empty milk cartons and a soft ball.

    Games for one can still be fun.

    Though most kids prefer to play with a parent or friend, their time alone can still be activity-filled.

    Parents should try making a CD of their kid's favorite songs and encourage them to dance until all the songs finish.

    If a physical activity is a little harder to work into a child's solo time, Robinson recommends creative activities or modes of expression. "Kids should try making up stories, dressing dolls, art or crafts, and building with Legos."

    This type of activity is important not only for a child's mental health, but also for their physical health, because it encourages healthier eating habits. "Studies have shown that kids who have strong interests, or are more creative, are less drawn to food as a form of recreation," Robinson says.

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