Getting our children moving means we have to move ourselves!
As parents we are all concerned about whether our kids will gain the right attitude towards health. Being fit and healthy invariably mean a happier life after all. Stop worrying about it. The way to achieve a healthy aptitude is not by nagging your kids; it means changing our own attitudes and teaching them by example. Yes, nobody said raising children was easy!
Stress, obesity and other health problems are becoming too common, even in children. It is important to get our children get used to a healthier regime where exercise, healthy eating and keeping fit is a priority. If we start them off young with the right kind of attitude, they have a fighting chance of keeping it going throughout their lives. It is always better to prevent problems related to bad health than going for the cure, right?
Benefits of Physical Activity
Apart from the obvious health benefits, the other benefits that our children get from engaging in physical activities are noteworthy.
All kids, especially when they are toddlers, go through a phase when they insist that everything is ‘theirs’. Sharing, cooperating with others, waiting for their turn, teaches them patience and teamwork which are important part of being in any family, work or city unit. These social skills could potentially reduce the amount of unnecessary bullying, violence and aggressive behavior- far more important than any lesson in French, math or history.
Involvement in regular physical activity helps build certain skills such as hand to eye co-ordination, body balance and strength. I know of a friendof mine whose family never encouraged any kind of sport or outdoor activity. As a result, the child was always self-conscious and nervous about trying out anything new out of the fear of judgment and reaction from others. If we want our children to be confident individuals, we should involve with them and show them that we can do the same.
All children like to hang out with kids their age – either for some casual talk or in an organized game or something. Activities with physical exertion give them a chance to socialize and make friends.
Case in study, my two-year-old! He waits anxiously for the evening so that he can go to the park and be with all the other kids.
Another important benefit that physical activity has is that it brings the family unit closer together. Even though a lot of parents work part time or don’t work in the early years of their children’s lives, they are not really able to spend quality time with them. Setting aside regular time to get out of the house and do something with our children ensures we are giving them quality time with us and strengthens the family unit.
Raised energy and better sleep
Regular physical activity helps blood circulation going, increases lung capacity with all fresh air coming in and brings on sleep more easily, not only for children (especially those who are difficult sleepers) but for us parents too as we get the evenings to ourselves! Regular exercises on our own daily routines help as it wouldn’t hurt to get our own circulation going and clearing out our lungs as well. Exercise brings on ‘good fatigue’ which helps us sleep better.
Image Courtesy: docakilah.wordpress.com
What can you do?
It is a fact that children look up to their parents. For they are not only genetically inclined to behave like us but also hero- worship us, wanting to do everything we do as that is the route they perceive to be the best. In fact, studies have shown that until children turn two, they actually think they are us!
So knowing this, it is easy to understand how our language, action and behavior influence those of our children’s and puts the added pressure on us of having to do the right thing in order to ensure that they do.
My husband comes back tired from work everyday to sink down on the couch and watch TV which I had sympathy and understanding for before we had our son. But now, when I see how my son runs to his father as soon as he walks in the door to say ‘Papa what should we watch on TV?’ I get genuinely worried.
There are two things I don’t like about this picture; the first being that my husband is dismissing the family rule of a certain amount of TV time in a day, or maybe because it is easier and secondly, that my son thinks bonding with his father as watching TV with him. This neither allows them to have much conversation, nor does it encourage my son to hold any importance for physical activity.
After talking to a few other parents, I have found out that this situation is a common phenomenon. To change the attitude of our children and get them moving, we as parents have to take the initiative ourselves and here we look at how we can start off the process.
Start getting physical yourself
If you don’t have a regular physical activity you spend time doing everyday then now is the time to start. Whether it is taking up a sport, going to the gym, walking in the local park or swimming in the closest pool you have access to, any kind of exercise to get your adrenaline going is highly recommended. Your kids will see you doing this and not only learn the importance of physical activity first hand but might join in as well!
Join your children in active play
When we take a look at the activities we engage in with our children, we need to reassess them and focus less on the watching TV and having them tag along with us and do more action oriented things like taking them to a park and tossing a ball or Frisbee around with them. Having them walk the dog with us enables us to engage in some together activity while giving them a sense of responsibility.
I know a group of mothers who get together once a fortnight and organize excursions to museums, parks and other places outside their local areas. That’s a great way help kids explore and be adventurous!
Encourage a bit of housework and gardening
Children love to do housework from when they are very young. Makes them feel responsible and all grown-up maybe! As parents, we can encourage them to continue this, as it teaches them responsibility and gets them moving. Gardening is another great way to get children be active and breathe in some fresh air.
Teach them how to swim / bike: Do it with them
Teaching children how to ride their bikes or swim are great ways to get the adrenaline going. And if we get ourselves involved in it, we may find ourselves with a regular bit of daily exercise and bonus of bonding with our kids at the same time.
Support your child’s choice in sport
We may not always agree with what our kids do but it is important to support and encourage their choices. Going to watch them play the sport and )for them to succeed, boosts their confidence and encourages them to continue with their active effort.
Help kids think of active alternatives
Every child walks around saying ‘I’m bored’ at times. Although it is not a good idea to spoon feed suggestions to them, we can always guide them to active options. Whenever my son asks to watch TV, I try and suggest other options like going outside to the garden, throwing a ball around the house (which is not always a great option for your breakables!!) or even help out with some chore or the other. Anything is better than making him a couch potato!
Have regular time caps on sedentary activities
In today’s day and age there are so many sit-still indoor activities that have taken over like the TV, video games, computer games and the Internet. Our children just don’t feel the need to go out of the house to play or engage in any activity. One should ensure their child to go out to the park every evening or some time.
The competition these days got a major role in keeping children indoors and stuck to their desks because most children have extra after-school tutorials to keep up and have little time or energy left to do anything else.
The truth is that there are many excuses we can all make about not exercising – I hear myself say it all the time ‘oh I have to do this or that or the other’. What I am beginning to understand is that not only does this hour or so a day set aside ‘my time’ which is hard to get but also ensures I lead an overall healthier life with a better appetite, a more regular sleep cycle and a better shot at living life.
So make sure you make an effort to go out there and get off the couch, for you can be sure your child will do the same someday!