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By Dr. Cathleen McGreal

Too little play? Not enough? How do I make sure my child is getting it right?

Q. My child doesn’t want to do anything but watch TV. How do I get her to go outside to play?

A. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” The inertia of watching TV works against this “happy talent.” How do you counter it?

Try to match your suggestions to her interests.

The novelty of an old-fashioned rolling hoop might intrigue a girl who likes American Girl bedtime stories, but another child would hate this toy! Remember to keep in mind activities that you’ll enjoy, too, because being with parents or grandparents can be a great incentive. How about creating a backyard obstacle course and crawling through big cardboard boxes? Buy a tub of chalk, let her decorate the sidewalk and then take photos to post on the refrigerator! Draw a hopscotch and teach her how to play. Invite her friends over for specific outdoor activities. Monitor your own choices, too. A family walk after dinner could be a memory she cherishes for a lifetime. And attending Mass as a family brings everyone closer together!

Q. My son is obsessed with football – to the exclusion of everything else, including schoolwork. How do I get him to achieve some balance?

A. Your son is probably familiar with Alex Smith, the former University of Utah quarterback. Smith was the No. 1 overall draft choice the year he went to the San Francisco 49ers. But your son might not know that Smith’s world contained much more than football. Alex earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at the age of 20 and then went into the master’s program! In the NFL, he gave half a million dollars to his alma mater! Heather Simonsen’s biography on Smith might interest your son and expand his outlook (as well as his reading skills!). Make sure he understands that student athletes are scholars who achieve in the classroom to play on the field. Football players work together just like families do; he has a role to play with certain tasks. Give him clear-cut guidelines for schoolwork and responsibilities, monitoring his performance. Then, get out there and throw the football!