Kids these days are so much more interested in sitting in front of the television playing video games or watching their favorite shows or playing on the computer than they are in going outside and running around and riding bikes and getting exercise. It’s no secret, and in fact it’s contributed to part of America’s obesity problem.
But getting kids to be excited about exercising isn’t exactly easy. They have short attention spans, less endurance and less desire to exercise than adults. So how do you get them excited to get moving? Here are just a few ideas.
Lead By Example
If kids see their parents exercising, they’ll be more likely to get moving themselves. Make it a habit on your end to have a regular exercise routine, and make physical activities a part of your day as a family. Try to take the kids with you when you take the dog out for a walk or plan bike rides to a park for a healthy picnic or something.
You could even let your kids come with you to the gym once in a while. They’ll get to sit and watch how you work out, and they’ll be more inclined to follow your example. You should also try to play sports with your kids, whether it’s playing catch out in the yard or getting some tennis rackets and going to the tennis courts or even swimming with them. If you’re involved in it, they’ll stay excited about it.
Think Outside the Box
Not every child is going to enjoy organized sports as much as some parents would like them to. Think about other activities your child could do to stay active – think along the lines of judo or karate, dance, swimming or anything that’s more individualized. Your child may find that they like personal attention better than being part of a team, which is fine as long as what they’re doing gets them moving!
The point is to let your kids have fun if your goal is to hold their interest in an activity. Keep trying different things until you and your child both find one that works.
Make It Sound “Cool”
Kids are so concerned with being cool that they’ll do anything they think will make them “cooler” amongst their peers. Familiarize your children with some famous athletes in sports that they seem to show interest in. Make sure they know just how awesome these professional athletes are. Before you know it, your kid will be running around everywhere saying they want to be like whoever their favorite professional is. That’s a good thing.
When kids see someone successful and “cool” doing what they do, they’ll be more likely to stick to it. It will also help if you talk to the parents of your child’s friends and try to get their children involved in the same or similar activity. This will make your child feel more like they fit in and like what they are doing is actually making them cooler.
Provide Positive Feedback
No matter how much you know about whatever sport your child decides to play (if they choose one at all), don’t go to their practices or games to dissect every little move they make and tell them where they didn’t do the best job at something. For example, if you played soccer in high school and in college and were a defensive star, don’t go to your child’s games to tell them how poorly they played on defense.
Instead, approach every practice and every game in a positive manner. Even if your child just runs around after the ball and never touches it, applaud his or her effort anyway. Consistent encouragement will keep your child engaged in what they are doing. Never discourage your child in any physical activity unless you want them to end up back on the couch in front of the television.
Ah, the beauty of a giant piece of equipment called a trampoline! You’d be shocked at how much energy jumping on a trampoline requires. Send your kids outside to play on it – they’ll have a blast and get a solid amount of physical activity in at the same time.
A swing set is another beautiful piece of lawn equipment. Kids of all ages love to swing, and the constant pumping of the legs and pulling on the chains can actually be a great workout for your little ones.
Even installing a swimming pool in your backyard will help get your kids more active. It will quickly become their favorite activity in the summertime, and if they love it enough at home, you could even consider taking it one step further and enlisting them in swim lessons to build their interest in the sport.
Getting kids to be active doesn’t have to mean sending them outside to run around in circles in the yard all day (unless, of course, that’s what they want to do!). You can think of creative ways to involve the whole family in being active and encourage your child to continue doing what it is they enjoy doing. You’ll have a healthier, more active child in no time!