Do you wish your kids would just get off the iPad and go to play outside once in a while? Or maybe you're thinking about getting healthier yourself and want to know how to bring your children along for the ride.
Here are some tips to get your little ones interested in living a healthy, active lifestyle. Bear in mind that the younger you get them started, the easier it will be for everyone involved.
Children learn by example so the most important thing to do is to be a good role model. Eat healthy foods, don't smoke and drink in front of them (or at all) and be active yourself – don't let them see you slobbing out in front of the TV all the time or that's what they'll want to do as well.
At weekends, take them out to the park or somewhere they can run around and let off steam instead of sitting at home playing computer games. At least once a week, organise a fun activity that the whole family can join in with. Play a game of football, go for a walk or bike ride or take them swimming at the beach or local pool. Make sure everyone is included and having a good time. You can even let the kids take turns to decide which activity they want to do.
Find out what they enjoy and what they're good at and enrol them in appropriate extra curricular activities or let them join a sports club. One child might be interested in dance, another hockey, another karate. Don't force them to do anything they don't want to. Exercise should be presented to them as fun, not a punishment or chore.
Children thrive on encouragement so make sure to give them positive feedback – not necessarily when they're good at something, but just for taking part. Never call them fat or lazy (even if you feel that they are) as this will just undermine their self-confidence. They'll end up labelling themselves as fat and lazy and not see any point in trying to change.
Feeding kids healthy foods will provide them with more natural, sustained energy than junk food which will probably make them hyperactive for a few hours then cause a massive energy slump. A growing child needs to eat a range of nutrients to support their developing body, not many of which you will find in cake.
Take this a step further and teach your kids about nutrition. This will help them to make healthier choices when they're older. Tell them what certain foods contain and how they affect the body – not just that this one is 'bad' and this one is 'good'. You can get your children interested in fruits and vegetables by growing your own if you have the means and the space to do so. Let them plant, water and care for the crops themselves and they'll be more inclined to try them once they make it to the dinner table. If this is not a possibility, take your kids to the supermarket with you and let them choose what fruit and veg they want to buy.
Finally, make healthy living a way of life. Incorporate exercise into everyday activities. If it's close enough, start walking the kids to school instead of driving. Pack fruit as a snack in their lunch boxes. By making a few small, positive tweaks to your daily routine, you can actually make your children excited about living a fit and healthy lifestyle. You'll probably also notice that their concentration will improve and they'll be happier in general. It's a win-win!
How have you encouraged your children to be more active? Share your tips and tricks with other parents in the comments below!