Children, like adults, need to move their bodies to keep them strong and healthy. When children learn these habits, they’ll likely take them into adulthood with them. However, if children learn to dislike or even hate exercise they’ll also take that attitude with them into adulthood. It’s important to make moving fun and a part of daily life.
Here are a few tips and suggestions to make moving fun and natural.
#1 Focus on fun. Some children are naturally coordinated and will enjoy sports. Other children are not and sports may be a source of embarrassment, struggle and pain. Find activities that your child enjoys that involve moving. Often it’s just a matter of getting them outside. Take your child for daily walks with the dog. Ask your child what sports they enjoy. If they enjoy running, consider signing them up for soccer. If they enjoy individual sports, consider golf or tennis.
#2 Make movement part of their daily life. It helps to make physical exercise a habit. Of course, you don’t have to call it exercise or a child won’t want to do it. Consider, if you live close enough, having your child ride their bike to school. Make it your child’s responsibility to walk the dog every afternoon.
If they’re too young to manage these responsibilities by themselves, then have a parent or older sibling go along with them. When moving is also family bonding or one-on-one time with a parent, children will look forward to the daily event.
#3 Make it a game. Children love to play games. Adults do too when you think about it. Make moving your body a game. The new video games are a good way to add exercise into a week, for example the Wii. However, it’s also important to get outside. Sunshine and fresh air do wonders for a child’s health. Encourage them to climb trees, do cartwheels or play kick the can. It may be a simple game or activity but they’re moving their body and getting exercise.
#4 Take lessons. Children often want to learn new things. That’s part of the joy of being a child. Sign them up for martial arts lessons, dance lessons, swimming lessons or other physical activities they might enjoy. Help them learn about their body and become comfortable with it by exploring new activities.
When children develop a habit of moving their body at a young age, they won’t stop. They’ll grow up physically active and they’ll take those lessons into adulthood with them. As parents, it’s our job to support our children to find activities they enjoy. It’s up to you to be a good role model and to help your child enjoy the many benefits of moving their body.