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Is your child a couch potato? You know, the kid that always seems to be in front of a TV, game system or computer, passing the hours of life killing bad guys, emailing or watching others do the same? It has probably crossed your mind that you would like to help them cut back on their ‘starch’ intake, but you’re not sure how to begin. Here are five ‘well-peeled’ ideas that may help you get started in improving the chances that your little ‘potato head’ will still have a chance to become the president of the United States. These are not in any particular order but each may have a positive effect if implemented carefully. See the list on ksl.com.

Create time limits
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As a family, determine an appropriate number of hours each day or week that can be spent on TV, computer, game systems and other electronics. Be careful to make the time limits age appropriate. Young children may only need 20-30 minutes before they should quit but some activities for teens will require longer allowances because of complexity. Doctors recommend a maximum of two hours per day for most children.

The key to time limits is firmness. Often it is easier to let the kids play a little longer because it keeps them entertained and out of your hair. But it also makes it more difficult when future time limits are imposed (but Mom, you let me last time!).

Set a good example of what it means to be active

Children who watch their parents vegetate in front of the TV or computer are more likely to assume that is proper behavior. GET UP OFF THE COUCH and start doing something. It doesn’t have to be grand or expensive. It just has to be active!

Start simple and include all the members of the family (or friends in similar circumstances). Most importantly, don’t make excuses for why you need to sit and watch television. Your excuses become their excuses, and then you have no credibility.

Provide other outlets for individual interests

Here is where things get a little more difficult for Mom and Dad. It’s one thing to cut down the time for being a ‘potato’ but if nothing is put in place of those activities, children become restless and rebellious. Good planning will eliminate much of the stress as the dynamic of the family changes.

Set goals for how quickly the family can reduce the number of hours in front of technological devices. Look for ways to step outside the norm by coming up with activities that improve relationships and health.

Be wise in how new ideas are offered so that all are on board with the changes you are seeking. If everyone has a stake (without potato) in the process, there will be greater success.

Do not allow TV, computer, or game systems in the bedroom

The effect of having these things in the bedroom is to legitimize them as an essential part of life. In addition to increasing the likelihood of creating more ‘tater-tots’, this also opens doors for other problems. Parents have less control over what children watch or play when they are not in an easily accessible and more heavily trafficked location.

Mom and dad need to be more conscious of what their little ‘spud’ is doing if they are to help reduce the dependence on electronics.

Spend quality time together

Despite what they may say or what you may think they want, the majority of children want to spend time with mom and dad. Watch the kids and ask them what they like to do. Look for the real clues to what they like: What do they do with their friends? Is there something similar you can do that will entice them to hang out with you?

Help them take up a new hobby that seems exciting.

Exercise creativity and patience as you change the dynamics in your home. Don’t become extreme and do everything all at once. Make sure the kids know why the changes are happening and let them express feelings and ideas.