Editor’s Note

We’re pleased to introduce this guest post from Amy Williams. Amy is a mother of two and a former social worker. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like helping kids stay active.

Getting outside.
Parents everywhere know: the advent of technology has turned many of today’s children into couch potatoes. Getting kids active and moving has become more and more difficult, and this can lead to an increased risk of health issues today or in the future.

So how can parents encourage their kids to exercise and spend less time with their handheld devices?

  • Trade-Offs

    A major culprit of sedentary habits for kids is gaming, whether they’re playing in front of the TV or behind the screen of a smartphone. Try making a trade-off with them: 30 minutes gaming versus 30 minutes of activity. Additionally, you can encourage them to play more active games like Pokemon GO or Wii instead. If you don’t already have a Wii system or something like “Dance-Dance Revolution,” consider investing in one and getting your kids to play more active indoor tech-related games.

  • Pets and Play

    If you happen to have a pet, encourage your kids to participate in play-time with them. After all, our pets need physical activity, too. For example, following some simple training, dogs love to play hide-and-go-seek. Any dog that knows how to sit and stay, can be taken into a room, given those commands, and called by their child to come find them after they have hidden somewhere else inside the house.

  • Be Competitive

    Turn everyday activities and events into a competition between siblings or parents and their kids. Getting from point A to B can become a foot race. If you have access to a basketball hoop, a quick game after dinner could decide who does the dishes. Given a little incentive, kids love a good challenge and a chance to outshine other members of their family.

  • Give Them the Choice

    Children like to think they’re in control sometimes and planned activities are a great opportunity to turn the reins over to them for a change. Decide as a family that you’ll be doing a weekly or daily activity and rotate the person who gets to choose that particular outing. Hiking, biking, rock-climbing: you may be surprised to learn the activities your children enjoy.

  • Be Charitable

    Especially if you or your children are interested in a certain cause or movement, participate in local charity events like fun-runs, walk-a-thons, mud races, or anything else that involves activity. If there’s nothing appealing available to join, think about putting together your own event to help their school, church group, or other local charity that moves them – pun intended.

  • Participate with Them

    When it comes to being more active, the best way is to make it a family affair. Perhaps you could go for a bike ride before dinner or have a weekly bowling night with your kids. After all, children learn from the examples you’re setting for them.

Maybe you’ve seen some of those PSA announcements about getting kids to be more active by getting them to do things like looking for their Mom’s purse. In another spot, the Mother cuts power to the entire house to stop some boys from playing a video game. Just remember: parents don’t need to be dishonest just to get their kids to be more active, they just need to get a little more creative.

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