Tips to get your child to be more active

  • Permanent lessons: Emma Watson makes her way through Betty Doyling’s obstacle course at the International Day of the Girl celebrations at National Stadium

    Permanent lessons: Emma Watson makes her way through Betty Doyling’s obstacle course at the International Day of the Girl celebrations at National Stadium


Last weekend I participated in the International Day of the Girl celebrations at National Stadium, and built an obstacle course for the children to complete.

One little girl said, “Can I walk? Because running is a bit like a sport.”

Her comment made me chuckle — some children just aren’t into sports or anything related to exercise.

It doesn’t mean they should be glued to an iPad all day. There are plenty of things you can do to help get your child moving and discover the joys of exercise.

Think outside the field

Not all children are drawn to organised sports such as football or field hockey. Look for other activities your child may enjoy, like dancing, swimming or martial arts.

It may take some patience and lots of trial and error before your child finds the right fit.

Join in

Children love it when their parents play with them. When I used to teach Zumba, my daughter would learn all the dances with me. When I forgot the moves she’d remind me what I missed.

Try and encourage your children’s fitness by staying active as a family.

Walk, take a bicycle ride together or play hide-and-seek at Botanical Gardens as a family. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment.

Offer positive feedback

Always stay positive. Children who aren’t naturally athletic may be self-conscious about their physical skills (or lack of them). They may also fear exercising in public and worry about feeling embarrassed.

Make sure to give all the support and cheerleading you can offer. Nagging or negative comments don’t work and will only make your child feel bad.

Use exercise as a reward

Forcing a child to exercise could backfire and increase resistance to physical activity.

Exercise should never be used as a punishment but rather a reward.

Your child might be happy to run around with you, do push-ups or play catch for 20 minutes if it’s a chance to take a break from homework.

Make exercise a regular routine

Make sure that children’s fitness is a part of the regular family schedule in the same way that chores, work, school, birthdays and playdates find their way on the calendar.

Children are more likely to stick to an exercise plan if it’s done on a routine basis.

Your child will begin to expect that Sunday mornings usually mean a beach run and play, and a couple of nights a week after dinner the family takes a quick walk through the neighbourhood.

Let them take charge

Let each child take a turn choosing an active weekend or after-school fun activity.

If they love nature, they may opt for a run through the sand dunes. The more sedentary child may select an activity like walking or biking.

Whether you wind up at a bowling alley or dance class, it all counts as exercise and your child will feel a sense of control over the situation. For younger children, you may want to limit some of the choices.

Keep our children fit and B-Active For Life!

Betty Doyling is a certified fitness trainer and figure competitor with more than a decade of experience. Look for B. ActiveForLife on Facebook

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Published Oct 16, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 16, 2019 at 9:16 am)

Tips to get your child to be more active

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