Young kids are boundless bundles of energy, and love to run, climb, swing, and move as much as possible. As they reach a slightly older age, however, screens begin to take over their lives. Once they reach school age, it can be very difficult to peel your kids off of tablets and phones long enough to get much real exercise. This is a problem, because children need to move around to ensure their healthy physical development, and to keep them from building unhealthy habits that may lead to difficulties later in life. Moreover, kids need these opportunities to interact with their peers face-to-face in an era where the development of traditional social skills is declining in favor of online interactions.
While a regular schedule that includes regular exercise certainly helps, kids need to connect movement and exercise with fun. That means making sure that kids continue to play actively as long as possible. A great way to do that is to make sure that your backyard swing set is still a fun place to burn off energy for your kids as they get a little bit older.
Build a better swing
Many of us have fond memories of the simple swings we grew up with. These traditional swings, however, are limited in the kind of entertainment they can provide. By upgrading to something better, you can give your children more play options. A web swing, for example, allows kids to sit or cling to it in a number of different ways, and can be mounted to allow them to swing in any direction. Better yet, they’re available in diameters of up to 40 inches, meaning that multiple people can use it at the same time.
Upgrade climbing equipment
Small children lack the strength, balance, and coordination needed to safely climb vertical climbing equipment. Once they’ve developed this, however, climbing ramps and other very basic climbing equipment quickly loses its appeal. The same climbing ramp that was a serious challenge to your 4 year-old, and required close supervision, will be as boring as a set of stairs to the same child two years later.
As your kids develop physically, it’s important that their play equipment continues to challenge them enough to hold their interest. A good way to do that is to add a vertical climbing wall, rope, or net.
Involve their friends
Playing is a social activity, and ensuring that it’s treated that way is an important part of a child’s social development. A child that feels that play time takes them away from their friends, while their screens bring them to them, will naturally resist playing. Everyone wants to fit in, and we can’t do that by going where other people are not. As parents, that means going out of our way to organize play dates, and encouraging kids to bring their friends over to play.