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Help Your Kids Be More Active

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

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The earlier you can shape a child’s attitude and behaviour to enjoy being active, the easier it is to keep them enthusiastic about physical activity.

This will have a lifelong impact on helping them to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Physical activity helps children build relationships and social skills, maintain a healthy weight, develop muscles and bones and improve movement and co-ordination skills. Active children are often healthy, happy, focussed at school and sleep better.

If you have a child that does not enjoy physical activity, there are many ways to help. You need to be prepared to be persistent, positive and patient. You need to find a way to make activity more enjoyable than the couch.

Try a range of different activities - children may not enjoy what we enjoy. They may need to develop fundamental skills such as balance or how to throw to gain more confidence in an activity. You can help by playing with them at home and practicing different skills such as bouncing a ball or hopping. If they feel successful at an activity they are more likely to want to do it again.

Make time to be active as a family. Kick a ball around the backyard, go swimming or play at the park together. By being active with your child it may give them the confidence to be active with friends. Be positive with your language regarding physical activity - for example, say ‘that was awesome, I enjoyed our game’. Be a good role model for your child, just by walking your child will see that you value activity.

Try to make physical activity part of everyday life. Walk, scooter or bike to school or to get the bread instead of taking the car. Washing the car can be fun, walk the dog or play with the cat, do homework on the trampoline. Teach your child that participating in sports days or PE at school is valuable. Limit TV and other screens to two hours a day and spend the extra time outside.

Try to match activities to your child’s abilities so they don’t become disheartened. For example, instead of walking for 2 hours, walk for 15 minutes and make it enjoyable. Consider different types of activity - active play is often good for children as it involves short spells of physical activity and built in rests. For example, hop scotch, tag, 123 home or skipping. Aerobic activity involves more continuous activity and is great for your heart, brisk walking, swimming, netball and dancing are good examples.

It is important to encourage your child to take part in physical activities that are appropriate for them.

Activities should be fun and offer variety. Praise your child for being active, be positive about their achievements big or small, reward them (with active outings) for persistence and taking part.

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