Your 6 1/2-year-old: Screen-time limits

Your 6 1/2-year-old: Screen-time limits

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Your 6-year-old now

Many a family finds life upended by a child's absorption with computer games. You may find his behavior has deteriorated as he constantly negotiates for more screen time, neglects his chores, and speaks of nothing but the game.

Know that it's normal for kids this age to fixate on things, and their obsessions are usually short-lived. Computer games can be addictive, however, so stick to your guns about gaming time limits. Explain that it's your job – no matter how unfair he thinks you're being – to make sure he's healthy. Too much computer time is as bad for him as eating candy for dinner every night.

It may also help to figure out why he's so attracted to the game. Does he like to immerse himself in a fantasy world or get caught up in the competition? Or does he like it because his friends are playing it, too? Once you uncover the reason, you may be able to steer him to more productive ways to get the same payoff, like playing board games with you or reading sci-fi books together.

Your life now

Want to help your child navigate his world? Don't buy him a GPS system. Teach him to read a map. At 6, he should be able to follow simple route maps, especially those that use pictures of objects to mark the way.

Couple this newfound skill with a child's love of scavenger hunts and you've got a perfect fun activity. The next time you take a walk in the neighborhood, create a simple map. Mark roads and landmarks along your route. As your child finds his way, he'll be learning left and right, reading street names, and estimating distance. It helps to have a fun payoff at the end. Maybe your final destination is a local candy store or a favorite friend's house.

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