There are lots of things that parents can do to encourage their children to lead an active lifestyle. Some of our top tips include:
- Be active yourself and your child is more likely to follow your example
- Offer positive feedback and support to your child when an activity is proving difficult. This will encourage him to stick with it.
- Spend time with your child being active. Instead of being a couch potato or focusing on jobs that need to be done around the house, make time to go for a nature walk together, go cycling or make some time to have fun playing Frisbee.
- Encourage him to play outside and praise him when he does.
- Encourage him to take up an active sport or sign up for group lessons like swimming or dancing.
- Get the whole family outdoors: Organise a family activity such as camping, hill-walking or a trip to the beach.
- Get your child involved in daily chores around the house, such as gardening, washing the car and cleaning. This will not only help him to stay active, it will also teach him responsibility.
- Have an activities box in the house, filled with balls, Frisbee, a kite, tennis rackets and so on.
- Balls, bicycles, scooters, tennis rackets and so on make great gifts as they promote physical activity and opportunities to play outdoors.
- Limit TV time. Keep an eye on the amount of time that your child spends watching TV or using the computer. Kids should not watch more than two hours and preferably only be allowed watch 30 minutes of TV a day.
Kids are often only really active in bursts of a few minutes or so, even during low-intensity active play. Young children rarely stay vigorously active for long periods of time. Instead, they will have short bursts of activity for a few minutes of less. This is healthy and should be encouraged.
One of the best and the easiest ways to incorporate activity into your child’s routine is to take regular walks together. You can walk to school together; make it fun by playing games and pointing out interesting things along the way.
Walking to school every day has many benefits for children, parents and communities, including:
- Improved fitness of parents and children
- Maintenance of a healthy weight
- Learning and practicing road rules and road safety
- Increased awareness of surroundings and involvement in the neighbourhood
- Social opportunities: meeting neighbours along the way and chatting with other parents at the school gate.
You can expand the range of the walks by following nature trails in parks and by talking trips to interesting locations. If your child is really resistant to walking, you could even get a pet dog as an incentive.