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Getting kids to exercise is perhaps harder than it’s ever been before. Years ago, they had little else to do. They would happily stay outside playing football or running around with their friends. They’d join sports clubs at school and ask to join teams. Sports were just part of childhood, and very little encouragement was needed.
Today, things are different. Our kids are happy sitting at home playing on their tablets or devices. They spend hours playing Minecraft or talking to their friends online. Even at school, there are screens that can be much more tempting than a sports field.
But, exercise and sports are an important part of a child’s development. Exercise doesn’t just keep our children fit, healthy and away from childhood obesity and bad habits that could stick with them for life. It can also improve their mental health, give them an outlet for negative emotions and a way to express themselves.
Exercise can teach them discipline and control, and provide them with a chance to socialize and make friends. It can even be something that helps your family to bond and form strong connections. But, how do you encourage them to get more exercise, when the pull of the internet is so strong?
How to encourage kids to exercise
Set a Good Example
If you want your child to exercise, you need to set a good example. If you never exercise, spend all of your time lazing on your sofa and complain about any kind of workout that you have to do, they will start to form negative associations. If you hate exercise, they’ll think it’s a bad thing even if they’ve got no experience to draw from.
You don’t have to be a gym bunny or a fitness freak to set an excellent example for the rest of your family. But, you do need to live a healthy lifestyle. Your exercise could be walking, home workouts, swimming or anything else that you enjoy, just make sure your children know that you enjoy it.
There are different ways to get involved with your child’s sporting interests. You could take them swimming and to other fun family activities. |Or you could drive them to lessons and sit and cheer them from the sides. You could shop for PE uniforms for them, or just take an interest when they talk about sports and exercises that they enjoy.
Don’t Make it One or the Other
It can be tempting to take their devices away, to encourage them to get outdoors more. But, do this, and they’ll resent it. Don’t make it one thing or the other. Let them find a balance. The more they enjoy sports and outdoor activities, the less time they’ll spend online, without you having to force things.
Try New Things
Don’t just assume that your kids will enjoy the popular sports, or that all of their friends do. They might want to do something completely different. Try new things together, look for classes in your local area, and let them experiment.
Don’t Add Pressure
If your child wants to be a professional athlete, at some point, you might have to help them to manage their training, and you might have to be a little stricter with them. But, if they just want to have some fun, let them. Don’t add unnecessary pressure, just let them enjoy yourself.