With Summer starting it’s third month I’ve noticed that although it is beautiful outside there are days that my kids struggle with being active. I could blame it on the weather being 100 degrees F or the fact that we need some down time…but there are simply too many days that are spent in front of a computer, iPad, or television. Here are ten tips that can help your kids be more active:
1. Set a good Example:
If you make physical fitness a priority for yourself your children will see the value that it brings to your life and your family. Just yesterday we had been inside all day due to a cold and my son was getting super cranky. He was short with me and didn’t want to do much besides lay around and watch TV. I announced that we were getting out of the house and going for a hike. My husband couldn’t believe what a difference it had made when we finally did get outside and my son’s attitude changed within minutes. I had to laugh because when the hike was over my son insisted on “checking his bump” to see how much bigger his muscles had gotten while we were on our hike.
Paul and I have tried to make it a point to make time for ourselves in the way of getting exercise and notice that when we are getting that time to improve our health we also are much kinder with our words and feeling better about ourselves in general. Kids will ALWAYS want to follow you in what you do rather than just listening to what you SAY.
2. Create opportunities for play:
Children are naturally inclined to want to play but will sometimes need a nudge in that direction. They often times get their exercise without ever realizing that it comes through a game of tag, Simon Says, ghosts in the graveyard, or jumping on a trampoline. The other day I played “crack the egg” with my kids on the trampoline and I was shocked at how well it worked my legs…I guess those are things you take for granted when you are young and full of energy!
3. Know and Understand your Child’s needs:
Let me explain this one a bit. Children learn and play in different ways and this is a time that you as a parent or caretaker must take the time to find out what movement is enjoyable to your child. If they are really uncomfortable in the water swimming will not be a great exercise for them, if your child isn’t a competitive child perhaps something more low key like running is a better fit than basketball. And don’t worry about “types” or “norms.” My friend’s daughter begged to be in karate and although it isn’t the typical thing for a girl to be in karate she has absolutely blossomed in their program and loves to go and be active!
4. Make it about them:
Often as parents it can be easy to want to press an activity on to your child because you want them to experience the joy and fun you had with it as well. I was certain my daughter was ready for dance because she loved dressing in her leotard and dancing the day away. I quickly signed her up and she spent almost an entire month sitting in the corner watching because she simply wasn’t ready for it. Pushing an agenda can complicate the process, listen to their interests and try not to make it about what you want.
5. Help them explore:
It is possible that your child could seem uninterested or “lazy” simply but not knowing the many different opportunities that there are in your area. This is where you need to step in and find out what is available. Classes can be expensive so if that is a factor you may want to look into school or community programs that offer opportunities for kids to be fit. Local gyms may also offer programs to help your child as well. There is a new program in Davis County Utah called, “SKILLS FIT: Youth Academy” that offers classes for children ages 3-18 on a weekly basis. These classes build confidence, speed, strength, agility, and body image. The class also focuses on health and nutrition as well as parent and child education classes! We were invited to tour the facility and get a taste of what the classes would be like. I was so impressed with how much fun my kids were having as they “played” without ever stopping to think about the activity being “work” or “too hard.” The classes are divided by age so that they are age appropriate and cost$39-$49 a month or you can even buy a discount pass if you purchase a 3-12 month package. You can read more about their schedule HERE. We were invited to come try out this new program and my kids had a BLAST running around playing games together and got a great work out in the meantime!
6. Give the gift of exercise
Sometimes all it takes is a new pair of running shoes or a basketball to ignite the fire of activity for your child. It is a simple gesture that can go along way, especially if that baseball means some pitch time with you!
7. Celebrate milestones Together:
Any time you can celebrate an accomplishment together as a family is good in my book. Whether it be to have a family movie night, go bowling, or go for a hike. The process of writing down a goal, taking small steps to achieve it and celebrating that success is a great life skill to have and one your children can apply to so many facets of their life.
8. Try New Things:
Be willing to get up and try new things with your kids that they may be interested…you may even discover you enjoy a new activity yourself!
9. Keep It Positive:
Talk about your body and being fit in a positive way. This is essential to developing a healthy lifestyle for yourself and one that your children will want to continue into their own adulthood. Since 1980 the percentage of young people who are overweight has doubled and it is important that we look at fitness as a tool for increased happiness in our long term health.
10. Have Fun:
One of the best gifts you can ever give your child is time spent WITH them. Some of my favorite memories are ones that I made while boating with my family. We cheered each other on as we tried new toys behind the boat and laughed at all of the falls we had…but more than anything it knitted us tightly together in the time that we spent. I hope that you found some ideas that inspired you to help create a healthier lifestyle for you and your children. Please share ideas that you have, I would love to hear! If you would like to know more about Skill Fitness and how to join their gym (which I LOVE) you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.