Super Bowl weekend is here! Looking forward to watching the big game with your kids? Here's some tips to make it more enjoyable for you and them.
Provide Some Age Appropriate Activities. If you really want to be able to focus on the game, it's worth making sure your children have something to do. The Super Bowl is long, usually over four hours. That's longer than the attention span of a young child, and many adults for that matter! There's plenty of great themed activities you can have ready, such as beading in team colors, printing team coloring pages found online, and playing paper football. While putting in some effort to make it fun for them is time consuming, building their excitement by decorating and making themed foods can go a long way to helping them cheer along with you instead of booing at you.
Consider Pausing During Commercials. While many grownups look forward to the ads as much as the actual game, these ads are not designed for children. Commercials during football are often filled with adult themes such as drinking alcohol, violence and sexual images. So if you have a DVR, consider pausing the TV for 2 minutes while the commercials air and then resume watching the game.
Don't Kid Yourself. Let go of the idea that mature content will go over their heads. While your kids might not get the joke, the content does not go unnoticed. If you have not had conversations about the adult themes, that doesn't mean they are not storing this information away. It just means they have no context to interpret the information and are left to their own assumptions.
Be Ready for Questions. If you do plan to let your children view the commercials, its worth thinking about how you will answer their questions about what people are drinking, why women are not wearing many clothes, why people are acting aggressive and what this all has to do with football. If you get a question that stumps you, it's ok to say, "That is a great question. I want to think about it for a bit before I answer." By all means, do remember to follow up later.
If your kids aren't asking, remember tip number three. It is up to us to check and see if they have questions and ask some ourselves. If we don't, the message we send is that these are not things to be talked about. In addition, we risk closing the door on future questions about sex, drugs and rock and roll.
Talk About Winning and Losing. As our culture has moved to making sure every kid is a winner, we need to remember that there will be a winning team AND a losing team in this game. With younger children it's important that we talk about the difference between winning the game and being a winner. If the team they are rooting for loses, it doesn't mean the team members are losers. It means that the other team played a better game on this particular day. There's actually a lot our children can learn from how the teams each handle the outcome of the game. Draw your child's attention to how the teams shake hands and congratulate each other at the end.
One more important point: How you handle the ups and downs of the game, and how you react to the outcome, will model for your children how to handle both success and failure. Be sure to do either with grace!