Easy Ways To Keep Your Kids Active... And Happy About It
Let’s not mince words here, we’re dealing with a nationwide child obesity pandemic. There are a combination of complex and important sociological and environmental factors behind it, but the simple fact of it is that children are growing increasingly inactive while remaining ignorant of proper nutrition and subsisting (in some cases exclusively) on heavily processed high fat, high sodium, high sugar foods. We love our children and we want them to be happy, and while we may indulge them a little every now and then we also recognize the benefits of teaching them the value of an active and healthy lifestyle. But in an age where being social means checking up on your Facebook feed and playing games with friends means hunkering down for an extended World of Warcraft session, how does a conscientious parent pry their kids away from their screens much less get them to be happy about it?
Well, obviously, this sort of change doesn’t come overnight and in some cases it may require you to rethink the culture of your home. Nonetheless, it can be done. Here’s how…
Practice what you preach
If you and your partner are inveterate couch potatoes, how can you expect your kids to buck the trend all on their own? Kids are adept at sniffing out their parents’ hypocrisy and the best way to convince them of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle is to pursue them together. Plus, you may just find that going out for a jog or a bike ride or a brisk walk in the park together may just bring you together as a family. Get your hook and tackle shirt on and enjoy the active life together. Exposure to natural light and nature are proven mood boosters and experiencing them together as a family can help to create a sense of unity and experience. Whereas night after night in front of the TV…. Doesn’t.
Make exercise an event
Exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore. It should feel like exactly what it is… an activity. Building a sense of occasion and ceremony into the event is a good way to coax kids, especially younger kids in to playing along. Making a game out of a bike ride or a run, and adding a competitive element can make it much more appealing to a child. There are families who’ve been known to host their own mini olympics in the back garden. You can even incentivise the activity with rewards like healthy treats or limited screen time. Which brings us to…
Keep screen time appropriate and limited
Whatever you do, don’t ban screen time as this will only make them want it more, while establishing it as the gold standard of entertainment which you’re restricting from them as a punishment for their unhealthy lifestyle. In the same way that an occasional candy bar is fine as part of a balanced diet, so too is limited screen time a perfectly acceptable part of a balanced diet of activities. It shouldn’t be the be all and end all, but it shouldn’t be public enemy number one either.