With this article we will give some pointers to getting your children to be physically active. It can be very difficult these days as a parent: there are so many trappings of technology and entertainment in the form of computers, video games and television. There are all kinds of reasons why your child may be less inclined toward physical activity, perhaps some of which they may not even share with you. They may find indoor/sedentary activities more interesting, or perhaps they have been bullied.
How Much Physical Activity Should my Child Get?
About one in three children engages in physical activity every day, while one in three children in the United States of America is obese. Children and teenagers spend about 7 hours a day, on average, in front of a computer or television screen, looking to technology to entertain them. However, children and adolescents require at least one hour a day of exercise. This can include walking to and from school or getting involved in extracurricular sports.
Physical Activity Helps Children Grow
Physical activity can be something as simple as outdoor play. There are all kinds of benefits of physical activity, including the development of motor skills such as dexterity and muscle sports. For example, through the use of monkey bars or playing games and sports, children strengthen their muscles, gain flexibility, and this helps their bodies grow into strong healthy ones.
Tips for Parents
Sometimes, placing adult expectations or rules on the children will discourage them from engaging in physical activity. For example, more and more, school boards are aware of the importance of free play and are changing kindergarten curricula to incorporate free play, which allows children to explore their interests and curiosities, as well as to role play what they have seen others do.
You can sneak all kinds of physical activity into your child’s day if they don’t seem to enjoy activity. For example, encourage taking the stairs or walking to and from school. Take them to a park and play on the swing sets for a while. Forms of exercise will vary seasonally but there are always activities you can try. If you live in wintery climate, try skating or tobogganing. If you live in a warm climate or the season is spring/summer, take your kids to the park or the beach. It could be that your child just hasn’t found the right activity for them yet. You can sign them up for extracurricular activities like organized sports or swimming lessons, for example.
Extra physical activity for your child means extra physical activity for you, too, as the parent. Take them into the yard and throw a ball around. Invite other kids over for games. Go for bike rides. If you are leading the way, you may find it easier to get your child to engage in exercise. If they see their parents enjoying exercise, they are more likely to reenact the activity. Interactive or reciprocal play will also hold their interest. You have to get involved! Help them learn a new sport and they will be proud to show off the skills their parents taught them.
It’s important, of course, that the child find meaning and fun in the activity, making them more inclined to take part. Get the whole family or street involved in baseball, for example, or skipping. There are many traditional games that kids enjoy like skipping, hopskotch, playing with a ball or on a jungle gym. Anything that keeps them active will automatically grab their attention.
Be sure your child has a convenient and safe place to exercise. It is best to keep an eye on them but this isn’t always possible, especially as your child may prefer to play without supervision or being watched. Make sure the equipment and location are safe, and that the child is dressed comfortably and appropriately according to the activity.
In addition to physical exercise, it is absolutely crucial to feed your children a healthy, balanced diet. Children should not drink soda pop or eat much processed food. Of course a few cookies here and there is to be expected and children typically crave sugar as it gives them quick doses of high energy craved by their growing bodies. Feed them fruits that are also high in sugar but are more natural and nutritious. Additionally, it may be difficult, but if you curb this from the get-go, it’ll be easier all around: limit the use of computer and television. Remember that children will want to mimic what they see their parents doing, so this means you must also limit your own use when the kid(s) are home.
On top of homework and other activities like music lessons or socializing, children may not have a lot of time for exercise. Be sure to work this into their schedule by walking them to school, for example. Above all, remind the child it is up to their comfort level. They must listen to their body if they feel hungry or tired or their muscles are sore.