All kids are different and have their own unique personalities with very specific likes and dislikes. Some will gravitate towards athletics or have a natural ability for a sport, others prefer to read a good book, or can have a natural ability for math or science. Whatever your child's natural ability or focus is, as parents, of course we want to encourage our kids to follow their dreams.
As parents, we also want the best for our kids and we want them to be healthy. We all know that too much time in front of a screen creates a sedentary lifestyle and we don't want that for them or for us! So what can we do to encourage our kids to be more active, without making them hate us for it?
When I started running half marathons and obstacle course races, my kids became curious. Why was I coming home drenched in sweat while they were barely waking up? Why did we suddenly have a big tractor tire in our backyard? What was a PR? Why did I need something called GU (gross!)? So, I showed them. They come to most of my races and are my biggest cheer group! They come to boot camps and sometimes they join in on some of it. I got them involved in my new found passion for running and my excitement became contagious. Soon, they were joining me on short runs around the block. They were setting goals for themselves to beat, their own Personal Records. We made up little boot camp style workouts for them in the backyard and eventually we signed them up for some of their own races and then they had to "train"! Then came race day and they were stocked to receive their own medals and see all their hard work pay off.
Tips for Getting Kids Active
- Lead by example. Show excitement about going for a run or working out. If you complain about having to workout, there's no way they're going to want to join you. As the saying goes, you don't have to workout, you get to workout! Keep a positive mindset for your own activities because those little ones are always watching us :)
- Get them involved. Ask them to join you for a run, if running is your thing. Get yoga DVDs that are kid-friendly and do them together. Go to the park and play basketball together. Plan hikes as a family. Whatever gets them excited about being active!
- Reward them. Set goals together and when they reach them, give them a reward. It doesn't have to be anything outrageous, just something that will keep them motivated to keep going.
- No pressure! Don't make it a chore for them. It should never be about punishment, but rather something they look forward to regularly. Keep it fun, change it up a bit, and go with the flow.
It's not always easy for us. One kiddo likes it better than the other. They still fight and tease each other sometimes during our family runs. They can be competitive, even with the almost 4 year age gap. But, as parents we just keep encouraging them. I keep inviting them on runs with me and sometimes they don't want to and I don't make them. Other times they ask to join me on their own. It's not perfection but they are more active than they used to be and now they are really understanding the importance of taking care of their bodies.
Do you have any tips on how you got your kids excited about exercise? Let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear them :)