Children should get at least one hour of physical activity a day. That is an absolute minimum. As a child, we spent so much time running around outside that it was never a matter of just an hour, but today, with phones, TVs, and iPads, getting a child to play outside can be a challenge.
So how do we make children more active in their daily lives? Having raised 4 children of my own, I can recommend some of my best advice.
Find out what really interests them
You may be a huge baseball fan with dreams of your child becoming the next big star, but don’t let your projections define your future. They may go to baseball just to please you, but they won’t enjoy it if inside their true passion is tennis, for example. Never force your child to do something that he really doesn’t want to do.
I encourage you to try all the different sports out there, even those that may seem strange to you. Listen to your child and pay attention to him, see what he responds to best and positively encourage him to continue with it.
do not compare
I wouldn’t recommend comparing your son to another, “Billy is so good at basketball, he plays every day, why can’t you be more like him?” This is an almost sure way to get your child to give up basketball altogether. Nobody likes to be criticized. Instead, why not find positive and uplifting ways to encourage your child to play sports?
It is not surprising that children admire their parents. If you tell them “you should exercise every day” but don’t do it yourself, they may not be as willing to listen. See if they can tag along during your practices, whether it’s morning yoga on the beach or an evening bike ride. They will love spending time with you, and somehow it will feel more natural for them to be active if you are too.
I have a dog?
If you have a dog in the house, see if you can make your child the main dog walker in the house. Make him feel important by telling him that he is “her” dog or that he is the best at this job. Half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the afternoon – a great way to get them moving.
If you don’t have a dog, encourage your child to walk or bike everywhere. Not only is it better for the environment, something I’m passionate about, but it will also keep them fit.
Build a tree house
If you have a garden in your house, why not build a tree house? Children love to make things and when they are done they will stay active by climbing on them. If you can’t have a tree house, why not hang some ropes on the thicker branches and encourage your kids to climb them? You can even turn it into a game, like a scavenger hunt, with one of the clues on top of that rope.
do something different
Very few people like routine, especially children who can’t sit still for long. If you make them dance ballet every day for 6 months, they may get bored and lose interest. However, if you vary things from time to time, they will never know what is coming next and will get excited about new adventures.
Maybe you could try new things every other weekend, like surfing, rock climbing, a treetop adventure park, trampoline, horseback riding, anything you can think of. Make it a fun day. Your kids will see new places and stay active in the process.
Did you know that many gyms now have classes for children? They are performed in the form of a game, for example, jumping obstacles. This allows kids to have fun as they don’t see it as a chore and get fit at the same time. Not only that, but if you go with them to do your thing, you’ll be teaching them by example that going to the gym is a good thing to do.