The popularity of indoor games is rising with the use of Video games, Nintendo, play station, VCRs, DVDs, and Internet use. These take children away from outside activities and put them on a couch in front of a computer or big screen. Studies say that these devices could also be leading children to adopt more sedentary life-style one which could stick with them for the rest of their lives.
Couch potatoes syndrome is one of the reasons for obesity, heart diseases, diabetes and cholesterol in young kids. Lack of exercise and obesity are the top two health concerns for U.S. children. Can you imagine that kids as young as 8yrs old are taking cholesterol lowering drugs. Now there are special pediatric cholesterol checkups.
So, as a parent, wake up and smell the coffee. Parenting influences played a major part for their sedentary life-style. Either we can have a healthy active kid or a nice chubby couch potato who will end up chemically fried with pills or worse dead by the time they grow into adulthood.
If you want to make a change in their lives, read on….
Parents should always strive for balance between exercise and healthy eating. Making exercise a fun game is more important because if you do exercise you won’t realize you are doing exercise. It really helps. It makes you feel better about yourself. Some of the joys of physical exercise are:
Think outside the playing field.
All children are not soccer or basketball players. There are other activities also like, dancing, rock climbing, swimming, martial arts, or cricket. Be patient until you get one game for your children.
Family time can do wonders.
You don’t need fancy classes or fancy toys for the child to play. Play with them, run with them. Walk to school together. Take the bike and run.
Limit screen time.
Computers, TV, internet whatever it is restrict them to one or two hours per day. Suggest alternatives as tag time, walking dog or board games if it is winter.
Lead by example.
You sit in front of the TV with remote on one hand and popcorn on the other and expect your child to go and play outside? It is not going to happen. You have to show the kids how to do it. They learn from you each and every move. You can walk instead of driving to the corner shop. Climb up the stairs instead of taking the elevator all the time… you can be a role model to your children by incorporating small physical activity in your everyday life. Participate in active pursuits that you enjoy and let your kids see them. Talk to them about how much you enjoy such pursuits.
Offer positive feedback.
Shower children with praises for their fitness effort and yoga stands. Children need lots of encouragement for reaching even small goals. Remember to acknowledge the effort, choosing to be active or trying to improve their skills rather than the outcome. Kids need all the support and cheer leading you can offer. Nagging and negative comments don’t work with kids. It will only serve to make your child feel bad.
Bring a friend along.
Kids love to hang out with peers and buddies. Offer to bring them along for ice-skating or swimming. Children like to play with friends in playgrounds. Just make sure the focus is on making fitness fun and learning new skills. It is not winning and competition as this can dampen your child’s enthusiasm for the game.
Use exercise as a reward.
Don’t ever use exercise as punishment. Usually push-ups and run-laps are used for this. Instead try using them as reward. Running, playing and kickboxing for 10 minutes are a break from monotonous home-work. They are all fun stuffs. Instead of sweets and chocolates exercise can be offered as reward.
Establish a regular routine.
Make sure your child’s fitness program is plugged into family schedule in the same way that school work, shopping, party, groceries, birthday parties and play dates find their way into your calendar. You and your child are more likely to stick to an exercise plan if you incorporate it into your life on a routine basis. This way your child will begin to expect and accept the walking two days a week, yoga one day, one day bike session and one day tennis and so on.
Take a non-negotiable position.
As brushing teeth, eating food, wearing a seat belt a subject of debate in your home? No they are not. They are all activities that promote health, safety and well-being. The same way fitness too is important. The same approach should be given to exercise too. It’s a no-brainer. Regular exercise is good for the mental and physical well-being of the child. Stand firm from the get-go and don’t let your child argue the merits of computer games vs playing outside tennis.
Now, Go out and have some fun.