Sometimes, kids who are obsessed with a movie, tv show, or video game might just need an adult mentor to help them take their favorite characters outside.
My younger daughter loves Dora The Explorer, which we normally read in books, but she has seen a few of the TV shows. If I repeat some of the silly, Spanish phrases from the shows, it helps get her running around and talking (in Spanish!) outside.
My older daughter loves the Lion King. Sometimes, she’ll play games based on the movie. Rather than steer her away from TV-themed imaginative play entirely, I play along with her, pretending to be one of the characters on TV, which in my case is normally the bad guy, Scar, or a hyena. They quickly squeal with excitement and laughter, running and hiding until I catch them.
This imaginative play helps bridge a gap between indoor, digital technology and the actual world outside, which will help her make that mental and physical leap continuing on into the future, encouraging enough off-the-couch-time.
Also, for a parent or adult mentor to kids, it’s helpful to play along and talk about the things kids love, even if it is on the screen. Avoiding it, disparaging it, or ignoring it in order to spend quality time in nature may actually create a disconnect between kids and their adult mentors.
Encouraging reenactment play based on their beloved characters outside shows them that I love them and support their interests.
When I was a kid, I LOVED Tarzan more than anything else on TV and it was one of my dad’s favorites too. In many ways, I was destined to love nature as this preference suggests, but I know watching something neat on TV and then reenacting it outside was one of the early activities that helped get me off the couch and into nature and loving it!
Parents also can steer kids into watching and liking movies and shows that motivate outside time, teach morals, or are educational by restricting or avoiding ones that don’t fall into those categories.