While changing habits applies to adults wishing to make positive changes to their lives, the same holds true for kids. In fact, even more so, because the habits you instill in your kids now will stick with them and help them develop into healthy and happy adults.
One of the most important habits related to wellness is developing a love of exercise. Personal trainer Ashleigh Lovino agrees, saying: “Once children realise that exercise can and should be fun, they’re more likely to continue with it into their adult years”. Here are some tips on how to do this:
Model your own behaviour
It’s all very well shouting from the couch to your kids that they need to grab a soccer ball and head outside. But they’ll be far more likely to listen to you, and do it with enthusiasm, if they see you living a healthy and active lifestyle too.
Get outside and play soccer with them on the lawn, explain why you like going for a jog or visiting the gym, and show them how much enjoyment you get out of exercise, as this will be the biggest motivator there is. “I also role-modelled off my parents who were very active, and I was able to see the value that it added to their lives and our family as a whole," says Ashleigh.
Help them find their niche
Not all children love rugby, netball or tennis. Some may not enjoy team sports, or prefer a discipline not offered at school. Maybe it’s rock climbing, karate or paddling that gets them excited? Find out about extra mural sports classes in your neighbourhood and then let them do a trial class to see if they enjoy it.
You could also speak to their friends’ parents and see if their children would be interested it’s always more fun doing activities with friends. You can then also share lifts to and from sport, saving everyone time.
It’s all very well exercising solo, but there’s something special about doing things together as a family. Whether it’s a Parkrun on a Saturday morning (even if the little ones walk), to cycling down the promenade together, to entering races together – have fun exercising together.
Make it part of your family life
If you can, find every reason not to get back in the car and rather walk or cycle together. Whether it’s walking to school, riding to the shop to buy milk, strolling over to a friend’s house or even walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift – show your kids how to make healthy choices.
Other ways to incorporate exercise into daily life is by organising camping and hiking trips on the weekend, signing up for surfing lessons or joining a neighbourhood tennis or cricket club. Anything that gets you out the house, into the outdoors and raises your heart rate a little bit is great. It’s not only healthy but will also help you forge precious memories.