Unlike their parents, today’s kids often choose more sedentary fare like video games or surfing the Internet and do without riding their bikes or games of tag. While video games and Internet access aren’t completely lacking in value, many parents would prefer their kids be more active.
Though it can be difficult to get them off the couch, there are ways parents can help their kids live and embrace a more active lifestyle, which can have benefits both now and down the road.
They don’t have to join you at the gym, but do make it a team effort. Go for a nightly walk after dinner, or make time to play catch in the yard.
Kids often take cues from their parents even when they aren’t aware of it. Parents who exercise every day are much more likely to have kids who exercise every day as well. Set a positive example for your children and include them in your own fitness routine whenever the opportunity arises.
Emphasize that it’s activity instead of exercise. Many adults associate exercise with going to a gym or running on a treadmill, both of which are tough to get excited about. Kids might be equally indifferent and less enthusiastic about exercise; instead encourage kids to get outdoors and pursue interests.
Minimize television time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends older kids watch no more than two hours of television per day. But as any parent knows, most kids average much more than two hours each day. To decrease tube time, parents can take televisions out of their kids’ bedrooms, instead putting televisions only in the common rooms. This will also allow parents to more closely monitor what their kids are watching.
Encourage your child to participate in extracurricular activities. While parents might find it hard to believe, today’s kids, even with all the video games and additional gadgets, still get bored. Boredom might be contributing to sedentary lifestyles. To combat boredom, parents should encourage extracurricular activities that get kids moving. Whether it’s participating in dance, joining the local or school theater program or another activity, parents can help kids find something they are interested in.
Childhood is really a journey of exploration and it’s actually the child who has the map; we are merely guides. There’s a world of activities to choose from—but we need to remember that it’s our child who is participating in that activity, not us. Even more so, we need to remember that just because a child is good at an activity, does not mean that he will want to continue that activity or do that activity in an organized way.