How to Get Your Kids Interested in Sports or Physical Activities
By Bernard Johannes Sleijster
Children should be getting at least one hour of physical activity per day. That’s an absolute minimum. When I was a kid, we spent so much time running around outside that it was never a question of just one hour, but nowadays, with phones, TV’s and iPads, getting a kid to play outside can be a challenge.
So how do we get kids more active in their daily lives? Having raised 4 children of my own, I can recommend a few of my top tips.
Find out what they’re really interested in
You may be a hardcore baseball fan with dreams of your child becoming the next big star, but please don’t let your projections define their future. They may go to baseball just to please you, but they won’t enjoy it if inside their true passion is for tennis, for example. Never force your child to do something they truly don’t want to do.
I encourage you to try all the different sports there are, even those that may seem strange to you. Listen to your child and pay attention to them, see what they respond to best and positively encourage them to continue with it.
I would not recommend comparing your child to another, “Billy is so good at basketball, he plays everyday, why can’t you be more like him?” This is an almost sure way to get your child to give up basketball altogether. Nobody likes being criticised. Instead, why not find positive and uplifting ways to encourage your child to play sports.
Teach by being
It’s no surprise that kids look up to their parents. If you tell them, “you must exercise every day” but don’t do it yourself, they may not be as keen to listen to you. See if they can join you during your practices, be it morning yoga on the beach or a bike ride in the evening. They will love spending time with you and it will somehow feel more natural to them to be active if you’re active too.
Got a dog?
If you have a dog in the house, see if you can get your child to be the main dog-walker of the house. Make them feel important, saying that it’s “their” dog or that they do this job the best. Half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening – a great way to get them moving.
If you don’t have a dog, encourage your child to walk or cycle everywhere. Not only is it better for the environment, something that I’m quite passionate about, but it will also keep them fit.
Build a tree house
If you have a garden in your house, why not build a tree house? Kids love making stuff, and when it’s done, they will stay active by climbing it. If you can’t have a tree house, why not hang some ropes on the thicker branches and encourage your kids to climb them? You can even make it into a game, like treasure hunting, with one of the clues being on top of that rope.
Do something different
Very few people like routine, especially kids who can’t sit still for very long. If you make them do ballet everyday for 6 months, they may get bored and lose interest. However, if you vary things every now and then, they will never know what’s coming next and will get excited by new adventures.
Perhaps you could try new things every other weekend, like go surfing, rock climbing, a tree-top adventure park, trampolining, horse riding – anything you can think of. Make it a fun day out. Your kids will see new places and keep active in the process.
Did you know that many gyms now have classes for kids? They’re done in game-form, for example jumping around obstacles. This allows kids to have fun since they don’t see it as a chore, and get fit at the same time. Not only that, but if you go with them to do your own thing, you will teach by example that going to the gym is a good thing to do.
If you’d like to know more about Bernard Sleijster, he runs a children charity called Sleijster4Children in South America.