By the time school is done for the day, your child might want to come home, crash on the couch, and watch TV or play video games.
While it’s normal to need a little down time, you also want to make sure that they’re engaged in their school’s community, and immediately leaving to go stare at a screen doesn’t make that possible. Here are some ways to encourage your son or daughter to stay involved once the final bell rings:
Find an activity that appeals to them
Just because you think they should play soccer, doesn’t necessarily mean this is something they’ll enjoy. Instead, sit with your child and talk to them about their hobbies and interests. Have they seen something on a TV show that seems appealing? Have they always wanted to learn a particular instrument? Are the rest of their friends doing Girl Scouts? If so, maybe they’d like to join, too. These kinds of questions can help you figure out what kinds of activities might appeal to them.
Figure out why they’re hesitant to participate
Maybe their basketball coach is too tough and makes practice less-than-enjoyable, or they’re worried everyone will laugh at them when they try out for the school play. Understanding their fear about joining activities can help you ease their concerns.
Start out slow
Signing up for an activity that meets less frequently can help kids get accustomed to being involved after school. If you’ve got them doing karate three times a week when they’re used to doing nothing most afternoons, it’s going to be a tough transition. Instead, start them in classes once a week and see how they do.
Be a role model
If you spend most evenings and weekends on the couch, don’t be surprised if your kids think this is the norm. When you want your children to get out and get active, make sure you’re practicing what you preach.
For kids who are nervous about trying a new activity, consider enrolling an older sibling along with them so they have a built-in friend as they’re getting to know other kids in the group. You might also look for a “mommy and me” style class in your area so you can both go together.
Lauren Levine is a freelance writer who has contributed to publications and websites including The Charlotte Observer, U.S. News & World Report, American Way magazine, The Huffington Post, Hello Giggles, Bustle, Thrillist, Thought Catalog, and others.