In the past few decades childhood obesity has tripled in the United States and it is now believed to impact the lives of more than 12 million adolescents and children. It has become a particularly sensitive subject, which has left many parents looking for practical ways to help their kids get a grip on their weight and steer clear of the many weight related health conditions.
So as a parent, what can you do to help your children stay fit and healthy? As well as adopting healthy eating habits as a family, another fundamental goal is to encourage kids to maintain an active lifestyle. This certainly isn’t an easy task in the age of the internet, where computer games and smart phones are unavoidable, but with a little effort, it is certainly doable.
Stop Driving Everywhere
The modern car revolutionized the way society operates and made getting to work, school, and seeing friends and family so much easier. Yet that does not mean we are obliged to use our cars for every journey.
Is it really necessary to drive to a friend’s house that lives just around the corner? Walking whenever possible is a sure way to encourage your kids to get active and appreciate the outside world. Even better, it will help you save on fuel and avoid additional wear and tear of your vehicle.
Make it a Family Event
Another great way to make exercise fun is to make it a family event where every generation of the family can feel involved. Instead of planning a day out at the cinema or going for a meal, consider activities such as a family bike ride.
This will allow kids of all ages to get involved and it can be made into a fun fuelled adventure that doesn’t feel like exercise one bit. Not only are bikes a great way to get active, but allow you as a family to explore local environments and make treasured memories.
Consider Garden Activities
Don’t just allow your kids to play on their computer games or watch TV all day. Ensure you are limiting their screen time to a healthy amount. The rest of the time they should be taking part in other activities, such as study, socializing and physical activity. Of course, sports aren’t for everyone, so if your child really isn’t a fan, then there are still many other opportunities.
For instance, my kids have various outdoor toys in the garden, including a trampoline, climbing toys and swing sets. These are affordable and a fun way to get kids outdoors and active.
Keep Play Fun
If you are playing a sport outside, don’t get too wrapped up in the details and rules of the game, especially with regards to younger kids. Allowing your children to let loose without any restrictions is likely to be much more fun for them.
As kids get older, they will organically become more and more familiar with the rules, so for now just let them concentrate on having as much fun being active as possible. This can be a difficult task for sports fans, but still an important factor to bear in mind.
Another thing to consider is whether or not an activity is age appropriate. The most important part of encouraging kids to stay active is to ensure they enjoy it. The reality is that if they find it boring or too difficult then they are going to become dissatisfied with the activity and lose interest.
As a parent, you main role is to ensure they stay motivated and engaged. Younger kids and tots can really benefit from simple activities such as kicking a ball around the yard. Not only will this help them burn off some steam, but will also help them develop hand eye coordination and motor skills. Older kids and teens tend to find sports such as soccer and baseball more rewarding and the social aspect can also greatly aid them in their development.
Be a Motivational Parent
As the parent, you have the responsibility of ensuring your kids stay motivated to participate in physical activity including sports. Often, all a child needs is a little bit of encouragement from their loved ones and they will find the confidence to participate. As they get involved, continually let them know how proud you are and praise them whenever they make progress. The influential effect of a parent’s compliment should never be taken for granted.
The Bottom Line
Keeping kids motivated is arguably more difficult than ever with so many distractions from the digital world, but it that makes it even more important. Exercise is not only essential for a healthy and well balanced body and mind, but it can also help in a myriad of other ways too. This can include childhood development, confidence building and acquiring social skills. You may even find that it builds a closer relationship between you and your child!