How to Encourage Kids to Be More Active (and to Put Down Their Electronics)
By Kids In Sports
Posted November 21, 2019
It’s no secret that children today aren’t active enough, and they’re suffering as a result. Many of them would rather play games like Fortnite than go outside. But what exactly can you do about it? How can you motivate and encourage your kids to put down their smartphones and controllers?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the recommended amount of physical activity for children aged 5 to 17 is at least an hour. If you had to take a wild guess, how many kids do you think actually manage that these days? If your answer was “almost none,” then you wouldn’t be far off the mark.
Per the WHO, approximately 80 percent of adolescents are not sufficiently active. As a result, their physical and mental well-being are suffering. Jamie Bussel, senior program officer at philanthropic health organization The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has said that roughly one-third of children are overweight.
The solution to this epidemic is deceptively simple - we need our kids to be more active. We need to encourage children to put down their electronics and get up from their couches and desks. We need them to spend less time playing games and watching Netflix and more time getting the exercise they so desperately need.
The only question is, how exactly do we do that? First, you need to give them the freedom to find something they genuinely enjoy doing. Don’t pressure them, and pay attention to whether or not they’re enjoying whatever you’ve got them doing.
You can’t force a kid to participate in anything, nor should you. What you can do is introduce them to as many different and diverse physical activities as possible until they find something they like enough to do it consistently. To that end, you might consider enrolling them in an after-school program focused on keeping active.
Alternatively, if that doesn’t work, you might consider scheduling a concrete time each day when you and your kids can get exercise. Work in a system where you track each day they successfully complete the necessary amount of activity. Reward them for consistency. This could be anything from letting them choose a weekend vacation to giving them something special for dessert.
As a last-ditch effort, consider that kids don’t necessarily need to toss electronics aside to exercise. There’s a growing camp of games in the vein of Pokemon Go that encourage physical activity as part of their core gameplay loop. Give a few of them a try as these games have a lot of potential as motivators.
Last but certainly not least, lead by example. You can’t expect your kids to be active if you aren’t bothering with exercise yourself. By making exercise a priority in your own life - applying all the advice listed here to yourself in the process - you’ll give them something they can aspire towards in terms of staying fit.
It’s clear to anyone who’s paying attention that today’s kids simply aren’t active enough. Most of them would rather play games like Fortnite than get up and move around. You can change that, but it won’t be easy.
You’ll need to work with your kids. Help them find something they love doing it, and embrace it alongside them. And in the process, maybe you can make some positive changes in your own life as well.