With half of this year over already, it's time to evaluate how far we've come on some of our goals this year. Cultivating healthy new habits can be quite the challenge, especially considering all the twists happening the last couple years.
Many people have a tough time including exercise into a daily habit. You may start off strong, but after a little while, you go back to your previous rut. If exercise wasn’t part of your daily routine as a kid, it’s more than likely it’s not part of your routine as an adult. So how do you stop the cycle and cultivate a love of sports and exercise in your own kids? We’ve put together a list of 20 tips to help you and your kids in your journey. Some of it may seem obvious, but we all need a healthy reminder once in a while!
- Play with your kids and make it fun – there’s no need to outsource play. Just get out and get playing!
- Let kids lead – when kids come up with games and rules, they are more likely to have fun and want to stick with it! Sure their rules may make no sense, but follow along (as best as you can!).
Be a role model – play sports and exercise regularly yourself. When kids see mom and dad prioritizing their health, they are more likely to do that for themselves in the future.
- Exercise with your child – whether it’s just a neighborhood walk/run, biking together, or doing quick rounds of strength exercises and yoga – there’s a ton you and your kids can do together. We recommend checking out (insert link here)
- Find other kids in the neighborhood to play sports with – remember the old days when kids were just playing outside for fun? Times have changed and it may take more effort and planning, but finding other kids and coordinating regular play times is incredibly beneficial!
- Don't stay indoors when it is nice out – take full advantage of those nice days. It’s easy to stay in, finish errands and chill at home. But spending as much time outside as possible naturally lends itself to an active lifestyle.
- When it is cold outside, do indoor exercises – Check out these ideas
- Diversify and try different sports – make sure your child is introduced to a lot of different sports. Each sport helps them with different skills and diversifying keeps them interested.
- Use age-appropriate equipment – are you using an adult-size basketball for a 4-year-old? Kids have better success with sports when the equipment is right for them. More success means they are more likely to stick with it long-term.
- Start with small successes first – for example, throw with proper hand position before throwing to target.
- Play developmentally appropriate games – a game appropriate for your 8-year-old is likely not appropriate for a 4-year-old. Adjust the game to get it to their level.
- Point out when they have a positive attitude. As parents it’s so easy to point out when they are mopy. Let’s also try to point out when they are being really great!
- Stay away from competition. At a very young age (3-6), competition with other kids is more likely to have a negative effect on them. There is a time for competition and the learning lessons that come from it, but those benefits don’t start until kids are older, usually around age 8.
- Don’t compare them to other kids, especially their own siblings! Comparison is so hard for kids. Be especially mindful of comparisons as kids can start having negative feelings towards the kids they are being compared to.
- Praise their effort not whether they scored or won. Building a growth mindset in kids is all about praising effort. With this in mind they are more likely to continue trying new things.
- Reward kids with your time – the time you spend playing or exercising together is worth every second to them. Rather than saying “if we do this hike we’ll all go for ice cream” … reward them with “if we do finish this whole hike, I’ll plan a special mommy-son date.” For kids, time with you is incredibly precious!
- Don’t feel pressure to have kids join organized leagues (they offer no edge at a young age). And besides, when do you have time to get active if you’re too busy shuttling them around!
- Redefine success. Success isn’t always about losing those stubborn 10 pounds. Success can be about cultivating a new habit, reaching a goal slowly or discovering you love something new. Change your mindset about success so that it is achievable.
- See the future, but enjoy the present! If you’re not enjoying the present moment, your child will grow up before you realize it; if you don’t squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of their development as a person, you’ll regret it.
- Encourage risk-taking for yourself and for your child. We can’t push ourselves without taking risks. By showing how you yourself are reaching beyond your comfort zone, your child will likely follow.
Childhood goes by way too quickly. Remember to stop looking at Facebook, and comparing what your house looks like on the inside to what everyone else’s house looks like on the outside. Simply take a step back, do your best, and have fun doing it.
Not only will your kids notice it.
They will love you for it!