Encouraging your child to be more physically active is something that many parents struggle with. While it can be challenging to keep your child away from screens, evidence shows that exercise is incredibly important to improving their well-being.
According to a report from Childwise, children aged between five and sixteen spend an average of six-and-a-half hours a day in front of screens. This is a startling figure that explains why children are spending less time being active. To have a healthy development and maintain a healthy weight, children should engage in 60 minutes of moderate and vigorous physical activity every day. Today, most children aren’t spending enough time being active. Below are some ideas of how you can encourage them to change this.
Be a role model
Perhaps the simplest way of encouraging a child to be more active is by changing your own behavior. Children are strongly influenced by the adults and older children in their households. By being more active, you can demonstrate to them the benefits of exercise whilst enthusing them to join in.
Organizing activities as a family is a particularly effective approach. This could be an accessible activity like playing basketball at a local court or something more adventurous like hiring some paddle boards or kayaks for an afternoon. The important thing is to make sure you devote time to group activities. They can be great for improving fitness in the family and present an opportunity to bond with one another. There are many other outdoor exercises you can do together as a family.
Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate
One of the main purposes of encouraging children to be more active is to help their physical and mental development. Children should see physical activity positively, so it’s important that you encourage them to partake in activities that aren’t too difficult for them.
To work out if an activity is appropriate for them, it may be helpful to ask their teacher to speak to other parents with children of a similar age. For any new activity, ease your child into it or, if it’s a technical exercise, teach them how to do it safely.
For example, before you go for a bike ride with your child, be certain that they are confident on the bike, especially if it’s in a public space. If they are a younger child, it would be best to keep the route short and avoid any hills or difficult terrain.
Organize a kids’ charity run
A great way to encourage children to be more active is to host a charity event. A good example of this would be a kids’ charity run. In planning for your event, it is important that you consider the route. It should be a length that is appropriate for the age group and has a few corners and hazards as possible.
A good, enthusiastic group of volunteers will help the event go as planned. It is likely that the parents of the children would be happy to help out. The volunteers can help you set out the course and should be positioned along it during the event. Charity runs ought to be fun, so make sure that you bring a lot of energy on the day and encourage the spectators to cheer the children on.
Utilize phone apps that promote exercise
There are lots of phone apps available that are made to help you exercise. These can be great ways of making physical activity fun for children. For example, you can encourage them to use simple ones like a daily step counter. These are great for activities such as walking or biking.
Alternatively, some apps are more in-depth and plan out exercise programs that the children can follow. While these are generally paid for, they can be great for helping your child get used to a new routine and are certainly worth it.
Buy gifts that promote physical activities
The majority of children enjoy physical activity, and there are simple ways to encourage them to do it more. Giving children sports clothing and equipment can increase their confidence and enable them to learn new activities.
Buying your child a physical gift, such as a new football or a tennis racket, can give them the encouragement they need to get going. Active toys are particularly good for younger children as these allow them to incorporate physical activity into their playtime.
Do not overdo activities
Understanding your child’s limits, both physically and mentally, is important to make sure that exercise is a positive experience for them. While adults often enjoy longer and more intense activities, children are more likely to grow tired and lose interest pretty quickly. To keep a child focused on the activity, ensure that it is within their ability.
It can be hard to get children to spend less time watching screens, but by trying and persisting with these ideas, you should see an improvement in your child’s motivation for physical activity.