Children in the US are spending on average around four hours a day watching TV according to a new study and the worry with modern-day family life is that kids are spending less and less time being active. With video games, movies and urban life centered around the home as an entertainment and leisure zone it’s perhaps not surprising. However, add processed fast food into the mix and kids are getting flabbier rather than fitter.
When parents are dealing with their own family, work and social life demands, making sure their kids are turning off the television and tuning to physical activities can sometimes become less of a priority. When chubby children are starting to pile on the pounds though it’s time to get them moving in the right direction:
Make activities fun and energetic
There’s no point forcing anyone to do something they don’t enjoy but if you use your imagination and vary activities you’re more likely to help inject some fun and energy into fitness. Throw kids into healthy pursuits and they’ll soon become absorbed and engaged.
Make exercise a fact of life
Routine is good for children of all ages. Habits form quickly and children are remarkable at getting used to doing things in a certain way quickly. If you treat being active as part of everyday life then that’s how they’ll view it and do it.
Let kids take a part in taking part
There’s a difference between initiating interest in your kids to do something that involves exercise and another thing taking over completely. Even quite young children have ideas about what they enjoy or what they would like to try, so let them have a voice in deciding too. Having an input and taking control means they’re more likely to maintain interest too.
Find fitness windows of opportunity
Adults often make excuses for not having the time to exercise and workout and children have busy lives too. As well as dedicated times to do something active, get kids moving during commercial breaks in between their favorite TV program, or on weekend mornings before they see friends, go shopping or out for the day.
Introduce a fitness environment
Many gyms, workout facilities and fitness zones welcome children with specially designed classes, routines and activities. Being in a space that is focused on keeping fit can be good for signalling to a child not only that keeping fit is what many other people do but it allows them to get stuck in without being distracted by toys, television or online activities.
Be positive rather than negative
Often adults ask or tell children to do something in a way that makes it sound like a chore rather than a treat. Their knee-jerk reaction is that it must be something they don’t want to do. Older children can feel rebellious when they feel they’re been cajoled or bossed into being active. If you instil the idea of keeping fit in a positive way youngsters are more likely to want to get involved.
Create an activity wallchart
As long as you make sure that an activity record is age-appropriate planning activities on a wallchart and using this to mark and praise completed activities is a great way to bring fitness into the home. Use stickers, pictures and brightly colored markers to create a fun fitness plan.
Join in and be a good role model
Joining in with what your kids are doing is a great way to really bond and share some quality time while also inspiring you to create a fit and healthy lifestyle too. Away from the kids parents who incorporate sport, exercise or an active hobby into their lives are positive role models too. You can hardly tell your young ones to turn off the TV is you are vegetating in front of it as well.
Don’t give in to couch potato pleas
Grown-ups make excuses not to exercise to themselves while children will often find a million and one reasons not to get up and get moving. If getting your kids off the couch or away from the computer monitor is an uphill battle try to be firm and firm and don’t give in too easily to protests.
Young or old, everybody likes to get a pat on the back and feel like they are doing a good job. Be careful not to turn encouragement into competitive mom and dad syndrome though as you might find kids either shy away or feel under pressure.
Need ideas about how to help your kids find fun, enjoyment and interest in activities? Get in touch!