Five Top Tips for Fitter Kids
1. Model it - if your child sees you undertaking sport and physical exercise, they are more likely to take your values on board. It's not what you say, but what you do that has more impact. If your exercise regime happens when they're asleep or at school, then talk about it at dinner. Share stories about the gym or let your exercise equipment be visible. Going out for a walk or bike ride? Then make a big announcement as you head out the door! Let them notice what you're doing AND how much you enjoy it!
2. Even better, get active together and make it fun - Children are naturally competitive and thrive on rewards, so take advantage of the MANY family fun runs that are cropping up these days. Whether it's a Bubble Rush, Glow Run, Rainbow Run or Santa Run, these events are often hilarious and will get even the most reluctant runner charging around. There's usually a medal to collect at the end, which can be displayed proudly at home and added to over time.
3. Mix it up - try as many sports as possible to develop your child's motor skills. Children are natural cross trainers. The more a child is exposed to different activities (dance, martial arts, football, gymnastics, swimming) the more control and awareness they will have of their bodies. This helps their confidence and belief in themselves, but also allows them to see which sports they have a natural aptitude for. After all we may not all enjoy running or football, but there is usually one sport that we do enjoy.
4. Praise the effort rather than the outcome. Children who aren't naturally athletic or co-ordinated particularly need to hear how pleased you are when they've achieved even a small goal. Perhaps they've walked further than before, or even when they've just chosen to do something active rather than look at a screen. Nagging and negative comments don't work and may have the opposite effect than you intended.
5. Hand over control - let your children take turns at choosing an active weekend pursuit or after school activity. The nature loving child may opt for a dog walk, the adventurous one might prefer a trip to the playground, the screen obsessed child could choose to walk to the movies! It all counts as exercise and if your child feels a sense of control, they're more likely to want to do it again.