If you are on this website and have found this blog, you are most likely someone who is proactive about their health and fitness. Now, how do you encourage your children to become excited about working out, eating well and make them eager to make the right choices? After all, our world is filled with temptations, addictive foods, activities and easier “solutions”, both in food and ways to spend your time. As a society, we sit too much and this is no different for our babies, toddlers and older kids. Simply telling them to do something doesn’t suffice. You have to do it with them and set the example.
Take a look at the following pointers and see if they work for your family.
1. Make them excited about going outside. Don’t make it seem like a punishment. Yes they can play a video game if they want but within balance and be consistent when and how much screen time they get. Go have fun outside all together. Go play, explore and make up new games and activities. There are so many outdoor games you can do in your own backyard, as well as activities in nature.
2. Don’t just “go on a hike”. Make it an adventure. Tell them about explorers and make them pick and carry some of their own gear. Just make sure you’re willing to carry it when they’ve had enough! Challenge them to find as much wildlife as possible or have them take their own pictures with a camera.
3. Build your own games. You can easily make your own corn hole game set, use some rope to make a playing field, throw sweaters on the ground as a goal etcetera.
4. Talk to them about fueling your body and how being strong is important. Don’t approach them by talking about “skinny” or “fat”. This will teach them the wrong lessons. Explain what real food is and what processed foods are. Teach them about balance and making choices to keep our body healthy and perform well. Tell them how much water is in our body so it’s important to keep yourself hydrated etcetera. Kids are smart and will be interested. Simply make sure you communicate the right lesson.
5. Have a weekly sports night. Take turns deciding or make the decision as a team of what the activity is going to be. Having miscellaneous equipment in your garage, along with some imagination can go a long way.
6. Let your kids help you with yard work. Preferably in a vegetable garden. This will get them moving but also teach them about foods, growing things and responsibility. Let them plant things so they can feel proud when it grows.
7. Walk walk walk. Walk to school, to the store, with the dog, to town etcetera. Walking is healthy and creates a good habit. When a child learns early on that walking is good, they won’t whine later in life when they have to walk 100 yards.
8. Participate in organized events with them. You can do some basic training with them to prepare. Again, explain to them why you do certain things. Don’t overdo it, overtrain or burn them out physically or mentally. However, when they understand why they do something, they will naturally want to find out more. You can also opt for a fundraising event. This way, your child really feels like there is a great goal to work towards.
9. Post school activities. Let them join clubs, teams and other groups. Let them figure out what they want to be doing sports wise. Don’t push them towards something you want them to do. Perhaps you were good at a certain sport back in the day but that doesn’t mean they will be, or whether they will enjoy it.
10. Offer them a wide variety of foods early on. This way, they will be open towards trying more things and also have a larger palate. Be flexible when they don’t like something and don’t force it on them. They will learn to dislike that particular food and have bad feelings towards it.
The biggest factor here is to be an example and do these things WITH them. Don’t simply command your children but show them the way. They will adopt these habits and make them their own. That is key to raise a health conscious child, which is a win - win situation!