Parents who are fully immersed in active lifestyles will no doubt be eager for their children to follow suit – but enforcing this sort of lifestyle is a recipe for disaster when faced with a child who simply doesn’t share your love of getting up and active.
Some people who know a thing or two about little ones, our friends over at School Uniform Shop are exploring a handful of ways you can harness your passion for exercise and try to foster these same values in your child.
1. Respect their age, ability and boundaries
Whether it’s the Saturday morning park run or whitewater rafting, you’ll need to think about whether the activities you’re planning are suitable for your children to get involved in – and while this might be more challenging for multi-child families, it can pose just as much of a problem to those with one youngster.
There are a couple of things to consider here, with their age and physical abilities being top of your priority list. While some things will be obviously ruled out straight away, you might need to trial other taster activities to find out what is and isn’t suited to your little ones. Take the lead from them, you’ll soon know if something is beyond their capabilities and you can move on to finding something more suitable.
2. Don’t disrupt their routine
Children are creatures of habit, and when it comes to encouraging an active lifestyle, anything that appears to pull them away from their normal routines will be met with disdain. Instead, try to find ways to build fitness into their day-to-day. Whether this is walking to and from school rather than taking the car, taking the stairs in the shopping mall or chasing each other around the home during a game of hide and seek, find something that feels relatively normal to them.
If you’re struggling for ways to adapt their routine, you could always try exercise just before bed – telling them they can stay up a little longer if they carry out some stretches or whatever it may be before bed. Be careful here though, because while this might tire them out, it also might hype them up just as you need them to wind down!
3. Embrace their interests
Every kid has a favourite hobby, and if you have more than one child, you can bet that what one of them loves, the other one hates! Hopefully your children are open to compromise and willing to take it in turns so that everyone in the family has a chance to indulge in their favourite hobby or activity – and if not, you might need to consider some split family activities!
If they already have a favourite exercise, don’t fixate on trying to fit 3 others into their week – instead, look for ways to nurture their love of this particular activity to encourage them to exercise more often. This could be keep ups in the garden ahead of Saturday football practice or dance shows for the family ahead of evening classes. The point is, it doesn’t matter. If they already love one form of exercise, you won’t need to work too hard to encourage more of it.
4. Give them the gear they need
You don’t need to be taking part in a competitive sport to make sure you’re wearing the correct clothing. Both for yourself and your little ones, comfort will be key when it comes to exercise, so if you’re committed to doing it properly, it’s well worth investing in the right gear for whatever your planned activities may be – and you might not even need to splash out on additional clothing if your little ones already have suitable items in with their P.E kit as part of their school uniform.
Same goes for equipment, too. It’s all well and good deciding you’re taking up a new hobby to get your kids out into the great outdoors, but if this is cycling and they need stabilisers or swimming and they don’t have a cap and goggles, your fun-filled family exercises will soon fall flat. The bottom line here is to be prepared before you get them excited about exercise, because it’ll be that much harder in future if you let them down at the first hurdle!
5. Get active as a family
If you can find ways to exercise as a family, you’ll be able to encourage your children to see it as less of a chore and more something they actually look forward to. Not only is this great for everyone’s physical and mental health, but it can help you come closer as a family – encouraging you all to spend time together getting out and active, rather than sitting in different rooms or even in the same room on different digital devices.
If your kids are absolutely adamant that exercise is not for them, you might have to get creative and start tying it in with some things they love doing. Whether this is walking to the cinema or a competitive game of football in the garden followed by a barbecue, if you can change the way they think about exercise, you’ll soon find them becoming less resistant to it.
Now you’re armed with these 5 secrets to getting your kids excited about exercise, what are you waiting for? It’s time to put them into practice!
Luke Conod is Managing Director of School Uniform Shop, providing high-quality, competitively priced schoolwear to see children from primary school through to sixth form in style.