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Early Childhood

Should I worry about how much TV my kid watches during playoff season?

Watching sports with your kids is one of life's great pleasures. If you're usually careful about how much TV they watch, then the big game can be an exciting occasion -- and something to savor instead of to stress over. But, as we all know, enjoying sports as a family comes with plenty of interferences: age-inappropriate commercials, unsportsmanlike conduct on the field, and too much time on the couch.

Keep these tips in mind to enrich your family's sports watching:

Mute the commercials. Your kids don't need to see ads for Viagra, liquor, or other adult products. Use the break to talk to your kids about the game. If you do watch the ads, use them as jumping-off points for discussions about marketing and which tools companies use to sell products.

Share your love of the game. Involve your kids in your enjoyment of the game. Many a fond memory has formed from the experience of watching the game and hanging out with dear old Dad or Mom.

Be a good sport. Point out good sportsmanship (and call out sore losers). And remember: Your kids will watch how you respond to the game -- so emphasize athletic effort and teamwork.

Get in the game! If it's basketball you love, practice hoops by lobbing things in the trash. Use halftime to dribble a soccer ball around the living room. Or get outside and practice the other sports you love to watch.

Have a game plan. Although you can't always predict when the Celtics will be in the playoffs, you can take advantage of your DVR or TiVo, especially because not everyone in the family will be into every game, and some won't want to be "forced" to watch. As always, create a balance.

Share your favorite sports moments. Kids love hearing about great moments in sports history from you. They'll probably forget who won which game, but they'll remember your stories.

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