What can parents do to help their children become more active? You know how effective your parents were when they lectured or preached at you. Nagging children to get out of the chair is not only ineffective but sometimes counter-productive. However, there are strategies that work.
Attack in Activity First. Even without prodding, most youngsters will find active things to do once the distraction of the TV or computer screen is removed.
Most pediatricians recommend setting up a screen-time budget with kids. Discuss the issue with them and negotiate a reasonable number of hours per week. Within limits, they can choose how they want to spend this time and will keep a log of what they watch.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends one to two hours or less daily of media time, a rule that might have to be implemented gradually for children who are used to spending five hours or more online or watching TV. The AAP also recommends that parents remove TVs from children’s bedrooms and try to serve as positive role models for moderate television viewing.
Set A Good Example. The same medical groups that recommend 60 minutes a day of physical activity for children advise adults to get at least 30 minutes a day. How are you doing with that? It’s for your own health, but your children will benefit by having a positive role model.
Schedule Active Family Outings. Families that play together stay healthy together. After dinner, on weekends, vacation, parents can plan family outings that include hiking, canoeing, swimming or other physical activities.
Take a walk together after dinner; schedule a 10-mile bicycle trip for Saturday. All of these activities, including your vacations, should be planned together as a family. Children will understandably resist if they feel activities or schedules are imposed upon them. Ask them where they’d like to go, what they’d like to do. Then work together to find activities that everyone in the family will enjoy.
Encourage Team Sports. At all ages and skill levels, youth sports leagues are available in most communities–baseball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, volleyball.
Children who participate in these leagues gain skills of leadership, teamwork and strategy as well as improvements in fitness and coordination. Maybe most important, a young competitive athlete usually finds she has little time to sit in front of a TV set.
Again, one good way to get your child involved in sports activity is by setting a good example. Volunteer as a coach or assistant coach for your son’s or daughter’s team. And show that you take your child’s sports activity seriously by coming to games and cheering them on.
Respect Your Child’s Feelings. Children may resist certain activities or sports if they feel self-conscious about being overweight or not very good at sports. Be sensitive to their feelings and don’t embarrass them. When other children are involved, you may have to set up some ground rules about teasing.
Some children are more comfortable when they’ve been given some time to learn or develop skills before being pushed into competitive activities. Others may just love the action, regardless of their skill level.
Like adults, children need a mix of vigorous and moderate intensity exercise. They need to develop aerobic endurance, strength and flexibility.
Physical activity sharpens the mind and can have an effect on mood and enthusiasm for learning. Even more important, it keeps cardiovascular circulation strong, builds bones and muscles and improves metabolism. Don’t let your children miss out on these benefits.
Agnesian HealthCare‘s healthYouth…Know & Go for Kids will teach children about proper nutrition, physical activy, safety and mental health in an exciting way!
Session dates include April 29, May 6, May 13, May 20, May 27 and June 3.