Motivating children takes creativity. Here’s how you can get your child up and moving, doing activity that doesn’t include a video screen or television.
If given the opportunity, my son would play Minecraft all day and night. He and his friends would skip meals and sleep. Many parents can sympathize.
If you look at chat rooms for Minecraft and other popular video games, you’ll find complaints from children stating that their parents (cruelly) limit their online time. My husband and I are some of those parents.
In our house, my husband and I have the password to our son’s computer. He gets an hour of video screen time each day and can earn a bit more if he does chores.
That leaves TV, which is another challenge. Many kids will sit in front of the tube for hours.
Several studies show the benefits of exercise on physical and mental health. The challenge is how to get your child up and moving. That takes creativity.
The obvious answer is sports for those who enjoy team activities like soccer, baseball, and basketball. If your child has an interest, it’s easy to find an afterschool or weekend team to join. However, if your child is like mine and has no interest, you need to get creative.
My son just enrolled in a standup comedy class after school. It’s more than standing in front of a microphone. The teacher includes theater games that employ movement. Next semester, he wants to sign up for improv, which has a lot of physical activity.
Here are 10 forms of exercise that will get your child up and moving:
- Dance. Enroll your child in a dance class. It can be ballet, hip hop, tap, or theatrical.
- Plan outdoor family activities. You can find a trail and hike it. Join a community pool in the summer. Go rock climbing. Take a walk or ride a bike. Play miniature golf.
- Plan indoor family activities. Bowling, rock climbing indoors, and ice skating are good choices.
- Walk, don’t drive. If you live within walking distance to a store, give your child a small list and have him pick up three or four items that are easy to carry. Also, if your child wants to visit the local library or a friend’s house that is also easy to get by on foot, have him walk.
- Have your child walk the dog. If you don’t have a dog, have him volunteer to walk a neighbor’s.
- Ask your child to bring a friend. He might not object if his buddy comes along. Just make sure the activity is something that interests both of them.
- Make family chores part of the routine. Depending on his age, he can rake leaves, mow the lawn, and shovel snow in the winter.
- Take a drama class. Just like with standup and improv, acting classes use a lot of movement.
- Find a martial arts or skateboarding class. Both are all about movement.
- Buy workout videos. You can even find them on YouTube. They range from aerobic exercise to yoga to kickboxing.
What’s essential is it must be fun. Give your child options. Ask him what he’s interested in (other than video games).
If you aren’t opposed to video games and your child can limit his time online, Leigh Stringer, author of “The Healthy Workplace” and a consultant on wellbeing, suggests gamification. “If you are regularly using a fitness wearable, a powerful motivation to encourage us to move more and or to engage in healthy behaviors, you’re participating in gamification,” she said. “We know that commercial video games have been popular for years and that the gaming industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. The system of winning and getting points is rewarding for kids and for all of us. It motivates us.”
Stringer plays Pokemon Go with her child.” It’s an activity we can do together that gets us out and moving,” she said.
February 27, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN