"Ah ganun ah!" My son, Sloan, four years of age, would enthusiastically shout at me whenever I get home from work. No, it is not a show of disrespect; rather, it’s a signal that it’s time to jump up and down the bed.

It is a small wonder how people say that kids these days lead woeful lives because they will never know what it’s like to play piko, taguan, tumbang preso, etc. Perhaps we are fortunate to have a frisky son, whose imagination can never be satisfied by TV shows and video games alone (both of which we indulge him in). And simply spending time with our son is paying us extremely generous dividends – his good health being at the top of the list, aside from the savings we do get for entertaining him without the need for expensive toys.

While we as parents cannot take full credit for Sloan's development, we can offer some tips on how to help your child separate himself from the clutches of the virtual world and engage more with physical activities:

1. It’s okay to allow your kid to watch television and play video games.

This would come across as counter-intuitive, but this makes absolute sense. When you take away the restrictions, their curiosity about the gadget will be satisfied and they won’t crave after them so much. Besides, they do have value and purpose in enriching a child’s imagination and exposing them to current technological realities. But allowing extensive use of gadgets will only make sense if you follow tip #2 (and this one is a must).

2. When your child asks you to play with him, you MUST do it.


No matter how long of a day you have had, or no matter how stressful, you must be able to psych yourself, before going home, that you are going to enter and be an active part of your kid’s world. This is the only way you can make them realize that physical activities provide more fun than any TV show or video games.

3. Include them in your sports activities.


Once in a while I would let my son come with me to jiu-jitsu sessions and even to jog. Children look up to their parents, after all. As such, he was eager enough when we enrolled him in swim class. Also, when you watch sports on TV, take time to explain to the child the goal of the game in order to cultivate a deeper appreciation.

4. Do not hesitate to bring your child to your road


I can understand the trepidation among parents in having their young kids join them in their adventures. But exposing children to the great outdoors will definitely make them appreciate being physically fit. In our case, we would be pleasantly surprised whenever Sloan would ask us to take him to a park instead of a mall.

5. Have fun!

This is the most important tip I can ever give you. After all, if it’s not fun for you, why would it be fun for your child? Embrace every moment you spend with your kid. Whenever you feel that you are just going through the motions, realize that you’re only given a short window period to do this with them. Make the most out of it.

I would give you more tips, but I hear my son shouting.

Mike Diez

Mike has been pretty busy and prolific: a writer and editor-in-chief in publishing, a producer of radio shows, a deejay, and most of all, a hands-on dad. Follow him on Twitter via @mzeid.