Adults aren’t the only ones who need physical activity; kids do, too. Although your children might be active enough during the school year, summer break is quickly approaching. Start planning now to ensure your youngsters don’t spend the next few months turning into couch potatoes.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to encourage movement. From being a role model to setting screen limits, here are seven ways to help your kids stay active all summer.
1. Model the Behavior You Want to See
Children observe their parents and mimic their behavior. In short, if you’re not an active person, your children probably won’t be either. So do your best to integrate more movement into your daily life. Whether that’s exercising at the gym or walking in your neighborhood, get moving.
The more active you are, the more active your children will aspire to be. Plus, moving your body is a great way to keep yourself healthy. You want to be in great shape for your kids so you can play with them and watch them grow up. Exercise is a good way to make sure that happens.
2. Plan Activities
As a parent, you’re responsible for planning your children’s days, so incorporate vigorous activities into their schedules. For example, enroll your children in baseball, swimming, or another seasonal sport they enjoy. Or set up playdates for your kids so they can expend energy running around with friends. If you’re going on a walk after dinner, invite your children along and make it a treasure hunt.
During the summer months, kids have more time on their hands. It’s important they don’t spend those hours sitting on the couch. Incorporating small activities into their daily schedule will keep them entertained.
3. Use Tech to Your Advantage
Although you don’t want your children staring at a screen all summer, some devices encourage more activity. A kids smartwatch, for example, comes with step-counting capability. This allows your children to clearly see how many steps they’ve walked during the day.
If counting steps doesn’t entice your kids to get moving, turn it into a fun game. Tell your kids the person with the most steps by week’s end earns a surprise. This could be a small reward, such as deciding what’s for dinner or picking out a new toy to buy. A little treat will motivate your kids into action.
4. Set Screen Limits
Speaking of technology, reconsider the screen limits you’ve set for your kids. During the school year, you most likely don’t let them watch TV before their homework is done (right?). Well, just because school’s out for summer doesn’t mean they’re allowed to watch Netflix all day.
Set new limits, such as not letting your children spend more than two hours a day on social media. Or restrict playing video games until after they’ve done something active. Whichever limitations you set, clearly state them to your kids and have consequences in place if they break them.
5. Choose the Right Vacation Spot
Summer is a great time to take trips with the entire family. Plan your excursions around activities to ensure your kids get exercise during the break. For example, choose a destination that’s walkable. This way, you and your family can use strolling as a means of transportation.
A day exploring the local zoo or an amusement park keeps their bodies in motion. Or consider picking a vacation spot close to hiking trails, lakes, or an ocean. New locales can motivate your children to stay active and also have fun.
6. Involve Your Kids
Remember when you were a kid and your parents enrolled you in a sport or activity you didn’t like? Sure, they were just trying to help. But instead of enjoying yourself, you were always trying to find a way out of it. Sound familiar?
If exercise and movement feel like work, there’s a good chance your kids won’t stick with them, defeating the entire purpose. To hold their attention, involve your children in choosing their activities. Let them pick what interests them and don’t be offended if it’s not what you had in mind. Your kids deserve the space and the freedom to explore different hobbies. What matters is that they’re being active.
7. Consult Their Pediatrician
It’s not easy to inspire kids to get the recommended 60 minutes of movement a day, especially in this tech-oriented world. If your children struggle to get active, consider scheduling an appointment with their doctor. Exercise is so essential to children’s growth and well-being that pediatricians are prescribing play. Sometimes kids grasp information better when it’s not coming from their parents.
Their doctor can put things into perspective as to why movement is important and even offer activity suggestions. For example, they could remind your kids that exercise helps build strong muscles and lowers their risk of certain health conditions. There’s no need to have the doctor scare them, but information can be a powerful tool. The more your kids know about physical fitness, the more they’ll understand its importance.
So don’t sweat motivating your kids into action this summer. With some imagination and the tips above, you and your kids can enjoy a physically fit, memorable summer.