Parenting can be a difficult challenge as there are many new responsibilities and no instruction manuals. The most important thing parents have to address is the health of their children. A potential answer to that problem is instilling good health habits early on in children’s lives.
Of course, you should be getting them used to eating fruit and veggies, but there are less obvious ways to ensure your kids will be healthy. One of them is encouraging your children to be active. This has never been more difficult — the digital age we’re living in carries significant risks of internet and smartphone over usage, which leads to an inactive lifestyle. To avoid this happening to your kids, we suggest establishing family exercise routines to limit their inactivity.
How Much Exercise Does a Child Need?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at least one hour of physical activity each day is recommended for children older than six. This includes aerobic exercise, either moderate or vigorous, as well as muscle and bone strengthening activities. Jumping rope, running, gymnastics or walking all are great activities to take up during that hour. However, getting your children into it might not be an easy task if they’re already interested in digital gadgets.
How to Make Children Interested in Activity?
Spending time on playgrounds with other children is a right way of helping your children live a more active lifestyle. Social interaction with peers will help most kids feel engaged at the playground, and will also act as an excellent motivator to start with the activity. If your child prefers only to use their devices, then you’ll have to do some guesswork as to which event they might enjoy. Let them try out everything they’re interested in, and something is sure to stick sooner or later.
While offering some choice to your children can be crucial, it’s equally important to keep any activity age-appropriate. What this means is that younger kids tend to need more fun and simplicity, while older children can handle more complex game rules or commitment to an activity. Parents can also encourage older children to dedicate themselves more to their chosen activity.
Setting Clear Boundaries as Part of Your Routine
As much as encouragement and praise are useful, your children should also be aware of what undesirable behaviors are. In this case, you might want to set boundaries around smartphone use and general screen time. Many families build up a ritual around mealtimes, which is one instance when digital distractions should be far away. Lead by example, and set a limit on your own screen time as well as your children’s.
Encouraging Positive Behavior
As a parent, you’re a role model to your children. So if you want them to be active, you have to exercise with them, or at least have them notice you’re working out. It will set a positive example. Keep in mind that the children will follow your lead if you let them know, for instance, that you value activity. That’s bound to shake up even the most indifferent, smartphone-loving child.
It’s imperative to instill good activity habits in your children early if you wish them to avoid all the consequences of an inactive life.
Information provided by: Jeff E. Sellman, M.D. from Florida Orthopaedic Institute.