How to Encourage Young Children to Engage in Physical Activities

According to the NHS health website, children aged 5 and under should participate in 180 minutes per day of play. At least one hour of that should be moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Our society doesn’t always promote that, however. Traveling in the car, playing video games, watching TV, and being in a stroller greatly damper a child’s activity time. What’s a parent to do?

Make it Fun

When you were growing up, you can probably recall a parent or adult telling you to, “Go play.” Basically, that was interpreted as, “Get out of my hair.” We tend to repeat those types of memories from our childhood. But if you do, be careful

Instead of playtime being presented as a negative thing, try making it enticing and fun. Start a game with your little one because along with needing active play time, they crave interaction with you too.

Get Creative

Be sure to encourage games and activities that require physical movement, based upon your child’s abilities. To effectively get your child off the couch and into the backyard or a nice sized play area, you may need to get creative.

Engage them by catering to their interests too. If your little girl loves to play dress up, play Tag while dressed in princess dresses or reenact her favorite movie. Your young son might really get into playing King of the Mountain with a new twist - adding in the super hero he’s most fond of.

Don’t forget to let your child in on the fun of making up games and activities. Children are quite creative when it comes to things like that. Praise him or her, not only for being active, but for being innovative too.

Living by Example

Naturally, kids want to be like their parents and caretakers. They mimic activities like shaving, being on the computer, and driving cars. When parents are active, they follow that lead too. The more physically active you are, you can bet your little one will be too.

Dig In

Make physical activity a joint effort. Create a chart and let your little one put a star up for every hour of physical play. Ask him or her for new ideas of things to do and games to play. When you are driving with your child or waiting at the doctor’s office for an appointment, strike up a conversation about physical activity and how good it Is and take the down time to come up with a list of fun things to do. The more you involve your child in your efforts, the more cooperation you are sure to get.

While we can blame modern society or our child all day long for his or her lack of physical exercise, it all comes back to us as parents and caregivers. The suggestions above will help you play an active role in being a part of the solution rather than part of the problem and that is a priceless gift to your child’s health and happiness.

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