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How to get your child to exercise

 Make exercise a family affair (Photo: Shutterstock)

Kids are naturally quite physical, especially the younger ones. However, with increased use of technology such as phones, tablets and TV and the older they get, many kids end up foregoing the running around in favour of screentime.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with spending time online, getting in a bit of movement everyday is good. Exercising will help boost your child’s physical and mental health, help them socialise and provide you with a bonding opportunity.

However, if you’re struggling to get your child to exercise and enjoy it, you can do the following.

1. Pick exercises that they enjoy

One way that you can easily get your child to exercise is by allowing them to select activities that they enjoy. This could be riding their bike, taking a walk, skipping, etc. 

It’s important to note that exercise is not restricted to what we know traditionally. You might have to get creative when it comes to finding exercises your child enjoys. They might not like football or basketball but prefer yoga or dancing. The point is to get them to move their bodies; it doesn’t matter how.

Additionally, when your child enjoys the exercise, they will look forward to it and actively participate. 

2. Foster a positive attitude towards exercising

We all know that when you have a negative attitude towards something, you don’t want to go anywhere near it. The same applies to your child. If they feel like exercise is a form of punishment, they have to do it to meet certain body or weight goals or because mum or dad said so, they will do everything they can to avoid exercising.

To encourage them to exercise, you need to foster a positive attitude towards exercising. Avoid making comments about weight, yours or your child’s, and the need to workout so as to reduce it. Counter what they see online or on TV about perfect bodies and body transformation by explaining that exercise is first and foremost about a healthy lifestyle and having some fun.

Don’t complain about exercising even if you find it difficult. Instead of grumbling about the soreness or how difficult the workout was, speak positively about how happy you are to have accomplished that difficult task.

Remember that even if you don’t notice it, kids will hear you and internalize what you’re saying. So if your attitude towards exercising is negative, they will pick up on that.

 Allow kids to select activities that they enjoy (Photo: Shutterstock)

3. Exercise together

When I’d workout in the morning, my daughter would beg to join in, it didn’t matter if the workout was difficult for her. She just enjoyed spending time with me. 

Make exercise a family affair by going on that walk together, doing child-friendly yoga, taking part in a morning dance session to get you going for the day, etc. Ensure that these are activities your child will enjoy and eventually, you’ll notice that they get up to exercise all on their own.

Another plus of exercising together is that you get to spend more time together, getting to know each other a little more. Seeing you exercising and enjoying it will also motivate them to get moving.

4. Avoid turning it into a competition

Instead of focusing on who ran the fastest or how much weight your child has lost, praise their accomplishments i.e. skills they have gained.

When your child sees that initially she had a difficult time following all the dance moves but they have now mastered the entire dance, they will feel more encouraged to keep it up and even try new exercises.

Would you rather see the future or change the past?

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