If you’re like most parents, you probably struggle to get your child off their phone or away from other screens. Unfortunately, there are numerous downsides to the amount of tech time kids have, one of which is that most children aren’t getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity they need daily.
It can feel like a lost cause to try to get kids to be more active, but don’t give up — you don’t want your child to become one of the millions of obese youngsters currently in this country or to suffer from any other adverse effects of a lack of activity. Helpfully, there are strategies you can use to tempt your young ones to get moving today.
Be Active as a Family
Find ways to be active as a family. Incorporate movement into things you do together, such as walk the dog, play catch or basketball, swim at the beach, or go for a bicycle ride. Doing this will soon get your child moving more. Where possible, set up a daily routine where you do some form of physical activity together, such as before breakfast or in the afternoon. If this is something you find hard to schedule, start with doing it for just 15 minutes per day and build up from there.
Remember that parents need to be good role models for their children when it comes to exercise. Lead by example and show your children you don’t just expect them to be active; it’s part of your lifestyle, too. After all, kids quickly notice the hypocrisy if you’re hounding them to do something you avoid.
Let Kids Try Different Activities
It’s also a good idea to let your kids try different physical activities, rather than pushing them into one particular sport you like to watch or do yourself. Everyone has different interests and abilities, so give your children the chance to find what works best for them.
The other benefit of encouraging kids to test various movement options is that this helps to keep them interested in and motivated by exercise. Most kids like to change things up so they don’t get bored. Some will find a particular activity they’re passionate about, but many will prefer to mix it up.
Make it Fun
One of the best ways to get kids moving more is to make it fun for them to do so. Look for ways to teach youngsters that moving can and should be fun, so they’re more likely to subscribe to healthy activity over the long term. Plus, be wary of making exercise too much about competition, particularly for young children and those who aren’t naturally athletic or who get stressed or anxious easily.
Another tip for helping kids enjoy exercise is to get them doing it with their friends. When children are running about and playing with those in their close peer groups, they won’t even notice they’re exercising. Also, sign them up for popular youth sports performance programs in their field of choice or look into fun, active events offered by churches, community centers, schools, etc.
Give Children Time and Opportunity to be Active
A problem that stops many kids from being active is that they don’t have enough time. Many children’s lives are so scheduled and full of activities that they struggle to find free time to exercise or do anything else. Kids also often feel exhausted by everything else on their plate, so they lack the energy to be active. Look at your child’s lifestyle to see if they have too much going on right now, and find ways to cut back where you can.
Also, keep in mind that you can encourage children to be more active by giving them more opportunities to do so. For example, let them sign up for sports teams or exercise classes they’re interested in, take them to playgrounds, the beach, or other spots where they can run around easily, or provide equipment at home. Offer to ferry kids to and from activities too, so they don’t have to find their own way there.
You can also boost their opportunities for incidental exercise throughout the week by walking them to school rather than driving them, parking the car further away when you all go to the shops, having them do physical chores around the house, or taking stairs rather than the lift when in tall buildings.
To help your child avoid long-term health problems, and to make it easier for them to build skills, self-esteem, and positive habits, encourage them to step away from screens and move more. Test out the tips above, and you should soon see some improvements in this area.