10 steps to motivate your kids to be active
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The secret to becoming physically active—which lies within each one of us, young and old—is that we all have something that motivates us.
Whether that motivation is the way running makes us feel or the desire to be like our idol, tapping into it is like tapping into super power;
it can give us increased energy and make us run farther and jump higher.
That motivation, the source of super power, can be either internal or external.
The secret to motivating the children in your life to exercise, then, is to find out where their super power comes from and to use this power in every activity.
In this article, For Kids will mention ten ways to motivate children and make them active.
1. Make activities with fun
Kids are silly and naturally playful; they take play very seriously.
Think of the word “play” as an attitude toward life rather than as a form of action. Having a playful attitude toward any activity opens up a world of creative fun.
Play is also essential to children’s development because it contributes to their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional wellbeing.
Engaging in play can be even more powerful for a child if friends and family members are involved in it.
Make time to play every day even on those days when you think you don’t have any time for fun.
Exercise should be as fun as you can possibly make it for you and the children around you.
It should be an enjoyable experience, so the children keep coming back for more.
Go ahead and get creative; you can make anything fun. It can be as simple as asking the children, “How can we make this fun?”
2. Add the Right Amount of Competition
Competitiveness is a learned behavior. Between the ages of six and eight, kids will experience competition either at home or outside the home.
They may pick up a competitive trait from their parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, or from almost any social circumstance.
This is a good age to teach children how to keep competition in perspective;
with a little direction, they will develop a healthy attitude toward being competitive and have fun with it.
There are various levels of competition, and most depend on the child’s age, temperament, culture, sex, and skill level.
Put in perspective, competitiveness encourages children to work harder and as part of a team, helps them build confidence, and teaches them good sportsmanship by impressing upon them the need to win and lose gracefully.
Children of any age should feel valued regardless of the outcome of any activity.
Be careful in your criticism to ensure that it does not appear that your approval and love for your children are dependent on whether they win or lose at a game or other activity.
Focus on the process of playing, strategizing, and having fun instead of on the outcome of the activity.
At this early age, kids begin to tell the world who they are; they are building a sense of identity and self-esteem.
It can be a fragile time in their discovery process, so it is important to encourage kids to feel good about themselves.
Kids also enjoy being a part of a group, sport, or club; or identifying themselves with a sports celebrity.
Specific to exercise, kids at this age like to dress the part—maybe dressing like a cyclist or wearing the jersey of their favorite sports team.
Adult leaders can use this to their advantage: the more kids think and feel like an athlete, the more fun they will have and the more committed they will be to the sport or exercise.
4. Involve Friends and Family
As kids’ social skills develop, they tend to be more thoughtful and think more about others’ reactions.
Because of this development, this is the time when kids start to make friends (although most of their friends are of their same-sex at this point).
Indeed, children of this age group want a parent to be involved in their activities, but by the age of six, friends also begin to become prominent in kids’ lives.
So for this age group, involving friends, family, a coach, a personal trainer, or a mentor in creating a healthy lifestyle can provide a significant amount of motivation for most kids.
No matter who you choose to partner with a child, you want to make sure that that person has the same or even a greater sense of commitment toward the child’s healthy lifestyle as you do.
This is important because the habits that are developed in childhood often stay with people throughout their lives.
So exercise and active play need to be at the top of your priority list for your child, but it’s important to make them a habit and not a chore.
In addition to parents, other family members and older friends automatically become role models for younger children, so we need to live by example.
The less you say, the more impact you will have on the children around you. So make physical activity part of your family or group’s daily routine.
Try playing active games together; it’s a great way to combine quality time and an active lifestyle.
Or take kids to places where everyone can be active, such as parks, community baseball diamonds, soccer fields, or basketball courts.
Miniature golf and batting cages are a lot of fun for everyone, too. Take walks or go for a bike ride; do anything but sit. (Note: And it’s especially important to limit “screen” time.
Children within this age group should not sit for longer than two hours at a time unless they are sleeping or in school.)
Even household chores are a physical activity—and they teach children responsibility.
From toddlers to teens, all children need to learn responsibility by contributing to daily chores and errands.
Assigning chores tells them they are a contributor to the family or group and that your family or group works as a team to get things done.
To encourage children to do chores, you need to make the chores fun, so turn tasks into games when possible. Make a chart and give points for putting clothes away.
Add a small basketball hoop to the clothes hamper so children can make a basket when they throw in their dirty socks.
Or make a contest to see who can pick up the most LEGOs. Set a timer and record the results.
And always give plenty of praise when a job is done; you want kids to feel good about contributing to the family or group.
10 Recommended chores for six to eight-year-olds
- carry out the trash
- fold clothes
- putting away their own clothes
- picking up toys
- helping in the garden
- helping wash the car
- making their own bed
- setting and/or clearing the table
- taking care of pets (feeding, helping walk them)
- wiping up the bathroom sink.
5. Choose Simple and Easy Tasks
A child’s mind is growing rapidly during these years, so this is a good time to teach them to follow instructions and rules and to practice good sportsmanship.
Follow this procedure with any exercise, game, or activity:
- Make sure you know beforehand how to perform or play the exercise, game, or activity.
- Communicate the rules so that they are simple to follow.
- Be prepared and have all of the equipment you will need.
6. Games and Sports Teach Reasoning and Encourage Thinking
Children of this age group begin to think and reason through situations.
Games and exercises can be used to develop and strengthen these skills.
Teaching our children new skills from which they will grow can help them develop both physical and mental confidence.
And children need to develop competence in movement skills because simpler movements are the building blocks for more complex movements.
To motivate children to be competent, give praise for a job well done and give encouragement at times when children feel they could have done better.
Allowing older children to teach younger children how to play a game and allowing children to use their imaginations in games and activities also motivates them.
7. Variety: Learning Something New Is an Adventure
Learning a new sport or activity empowers children to open their minds, meet new people, experience other cultures, challenge their muscles in different ways, and satisfy their desire to be unique.
You can learn a new sport or skill as a family or as part of a group.
Try fly fishing, rock climbing, backpacking, or something simpler like a new yoga move or a new swim stroke.
Try snorkeling; if you enjoy it, take a vacation during which your entire family can share in this adventure.
But before you set off on that snorkeling trip to Mexico, be sure the children going with you have the skills necessary to be able to snorkel. Consider their age, skill level, and interests.
8. Enjoyment of the Experience
Because humans are emotional beings, we are driven by how we feel about people, places, and things.
What children really want are the feelings of pleasure and satisfaction in the things that they do and accomplish.
All of us are motivated by experiences that make us feel good; most of us will avoid those experiences that make us feel bad or frighten us.
As adults we need to keep this in mind when introducing children to new activities.
If we see children experiencing fear when faced with a new game, skill, or sport, for instance, we need to look at the situation and figure out why.
Perhaps the workout is too hard or too competitive. Is there a risk involved? Does the child think it may make her look foolish to her friends?
Whatever the fear might be, you must identify it; once the fear is gone or overcome, then the children can focus on the fun of the activity.
9. Results and Feedback
When working with children, you want to build pride, confidence, and muscle all at the same time.
In the pursuit of healthy children, look past the pursuit of a healthy body; it is also the pursuit of a healthy mind.
To raise a well-balanced child, you can’t have one without the other.
A positive message stimulates and empowers anybody, especially kids.
Words have power; they can build someone up or they can tear someone down.
So especially when working with children, you want to choose your words carefully and think about the value and delivery of your feedback.
Positive reinforcement can increase self-confidence, so give children personal compliments.
Also make sure to give specific feedback; this increases the value of the statement.
Feelings of acceptance and validation must start at home.
Children have a strong need for love and understanding from their parents as well as their peers. Kids want and need their parents’ attention and approval.
We all possess the desire to do something or be someone that is valued or valuable.
Some children have the desire to be like others, while others strive to be unique.
One thing that is common in children is that no child likes to be compared to another child in a negative way.
Find the strengths within the individual child and develop them but don’t push a child into a sport or activity because you played it as a child or because a friend’s children are involved in it now.
If a child does not want to play on an organized team, don’t push them in that direction.
Instead, explore the list of individual sports mentioned in this book with your children. Maybe skateboarding is more their style.
Or if children want to be different, let them try a sport that is not common, such as fencing or kickboxing.
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