It can be very challenging for parents and carers to motivate their children into doing exercise, sports and physical activity. Children from the ages of six to seventeen need at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise a day and bone-strengthening exercises like running or jumping should be carried out three times a week. Relying on P.E classes at school is not enough so it’s important to encourage your child to exercise at home or in extra circular sports classes. A study carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019 discovered that 85% of UK children were not doing enough exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. These figures are quite alarming so parents and carers must do their best to get the child in their life up from the sofa. Below are some suggestions on ways to motivate children into becoming more active.
Become an active role model to the child
A child is more likely to take part in physical activity if other family members are doing the same, and it will also improve the fitness of the entire family. Many activities can be done as a family, such as going on a bike ride together, taking a ball to the park for a game of football, playing frisbee, going to the local pool for a swim, or even packing a picnic and going on a scenic hike together. It’s also a good way for the family to bond and improve relationships as well. As your family’s overall level of fitness begins to improve it is then possible that you could all go jogging together, or power-walking. Finding the time for these kinds of activities can be challenging, especially for working parents, but family activities can be done together over the weekend for example, when everybody has more free time.
Utilise phone apps that promote exercise
Most kids are very tech-savvy and there are many phone apps around that can be used to encourage children to exercise. The whole family can download the same app and perhaps make the activity a bit competitive, such as who does the most steps in a week for example. Kids love a bit of competition and they are likely to want to do better than the adults or their siblings, especially if there is a ‘prize’ for the family member that wins at the end of the week. This is another incentive that will motivate kids. Perhaps the family winner gets to choose a movie for the whole family to watch on a Saturday evening or they get to decide what takeaway to have on takeaway night.
Use social media video platforms to follow a workout
There are thousands of video workouts available for free online and encouraging a child to partake in one on a bi-weekly basis will be an enjoyable way of exercising. Spend time with your child looking at the different workout videos and find one that is age-appropriate and something that your child is interested in. Allowing the child to choose what exercise they want to do means they are more likely to follow it through and have fun at the same time. It’s likely that an older child will have heard of some well-known workout instructors that have their own video channel and this might be another reason they will do the workout.
Keep the exercise fun
Children are very unlikely to do something that they don’t enjoy, so try to think outside of the box a little bit. Communicate with your child and find out if there is a sport or activity they fancy trying. Perhaps your child would like to learn to ride a skateboard, rollerblade or learn to ice skate. Circus training can also be good fun, especially the acrobatic side of things. Anything that gets children to exercise is a bonus, even if it means an adult may have to go and sit in a skate park for an hour and supervise their child if they are not old enough to go with friends. Keeping your child physically active means you are helping them to stay healthy so some compromises might be necessary.
Encourage them to join sports classes that their peers are participating in
Kids are usually quite sociable and would probably prefer to participate in sports that their friends are doing too. Communicating with your child is important. Explain that physical exercise will help keep them healthy and tell them why. Encourage your child to speak to their friends and find out if they are going to a football club or getting together to play basketball. It’s worth suggesting to the child that they could try a few sessions playing a few different sports to see if they like it first. Children like to feel that they have options and are not being forced into something they do not want to do, so give them different options to choose from.
It’s not easy motivating children to leave their computer or the T.V and to get physical, but with some time and effort, it can be done and the benefits the child will gain long term will be worth it. For information on sports clubs and activities for children in your area, please visit The Little Foxes Club.