Today’s kids spend more than seven hours a day looking at screens and many even have their own tablets, smartphones and TVs. This teched-out childhood couldn’t be more different from your internet-free youth. Instead of playing outside all day like you did, your little ones binge Netflix, play video games and message their friends.
However, there is some hope for the next generation. If you want them to be active and have fun experiences like you did when you were a kid, you must get them up and moving. Luckily, there are many ways to lure them away from their screens and keep them active.
1- ) Go Outside
One of the best ways to get your kids up and moving is to take them outside. No matter what the season or weather, there’s always something exciting waiting for them outdoors. Is it raining? Go splash in some puddles and look for earthworms. Caught in a snowstorm? Build a snowman, have a snowball fight or go sledding. Is it hot and humid? Set up the sprinkler and take turns running, jumping and spinning through its refreshing stream.
2- ) Create an Active Environment
If you don’t feel like facing the elements, create an active environment inside instead. Hide all the phones, laptops and remote controls and provide a few age-appropriate toys or games. If your kids are young, try a game like Twister or Simon Says. Alternate these more intense activities with fine motor skills activities like modeling, drawing and painting. Meanwhile, older kids might enjoy a dance-off, scavenger hunt, pushup challenge or another similar activity.
3- ) Invite a Friend
Sometimes, all it takes to get your kids off the couch is a little friendly competition. Help your little ones improve their social skills by inviting a friend over. Together, they can play soccer or football in the backyard or enjoy a classic game of tag or hide and seek. Adding a social component to physical activity can make exercise more enjoyable. Moreover, it can motivate them to join a team or club at school, which can promote good physical and mental health.
4- ) Let Them Choose
Do your children shoot down every activity you suggest? Give them the reigns and let them choose instead. Have each one pick one favorite activity to enjoy together each day. Whether you end up at the park, the gym or your nearest climbing wall, you’re sure to learn something new about your kids and burn a few calories in the process. Plus, if your child feels a sense of control over the situation, they’ll be more willing to engage in a similar activity again.
5- ) Try Something New
Every now and then, your little one won’t want to do anything. On days when even water balloon fights don’t sound like fun, try something new. Think of activities they’ve never tried before — like hopping on a pogo stick or ice skating. Maybe they’ve never done a cartwheel or double dutched a jump rope. Learn the new skill together, laugh when you mess up and try again. Switching things up like this will remind your child that physical activity doesn’t have to be boring.
6- ) Celebrate Good Habits
Motivate your kids to stay active by celebrating physical activity and other good habits. Have a dance party when you reach your fitness goals or bake a vegan cake together when they eat all of their vegetables for a whole week straight. Rewarding yourselves will keep your entire family on the right track. Plus, it will remind them that balance is important and having fun is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
7- ) Engage Their Interests
As your children grow, their interest will change. Eventually, they may not want to ride a scooter or play in puddles but, as long as they find some other enjoyable form of physical activity, you have nothing to worry about. Ask your kids what they enjoy doing most and pay close attention to their favorite hobbies and topics. Then, plan activities that engage those interests. Encouraging them to pursue their passions and move in ways that feel good will instill good habits well into adulthood.
8- ) Be a Good Example
When it comes to raising kids, you must lead by example. If you vegetate in front of the TV every night, your little ones will too. On the other hand, if you work out at home and take the stairs over the elevator, they’ll likely mirror your behavior. Aim for 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week and two hours of muscle-strengthening activity. Let your kids see and hear how much you enjoy your workouts to encourage them to move too.
Prioritizing Physical Activity
Most parents enforce healthy habits and activities like brushing teeth, eating vegetables and going to bed at a decent hour. However, many fail to treat physical activity with the same level of non-negotiability. Until they do, their kids — and the family, as a whole — won’t prioritize movement and exercise. Instead, they view it as a chore, another to-do to check off the list.
Refuse to treat physical activity as an afterthought any longer. Take a non-negotiable position and build exercise into your schedule. Making it part of your daily routine will help everyone reprioritize their health and actually stick to an exercise plan.