5 Ways To Engage Your Family Into Physical Activity Mode
Nowadays, it is challenging to make our children move from the screens of their devices and do some physical activity that involves the movement of body parts other than their eyes or fingers.
But not all is lost…
I will give you five recommendations that you can try and see how they do:
Pops and moms first!
I will never be tired of telling you that children learn more by example than by lectures.
If you do not have a hobby that still involves physical activity, look for it. The best thing to do is to ask yourself five questions to find out what interests you:
a) Do I prefer activities indoors with AC or outdoors?
b) Do I like short but intense exercises or do I prefer longer in duration but moderate?
c) In what sport or physical activity was I good at when I was a child or adolescent?
d) Do I like to exercise alone or with other people?
e) Do I need scores, rankings, or other specific results to keep me motivated?
I am sure that by answering these questions, an idea will come up within the vast variety of physical activities that are offered today, which may be of interest to you. It is essential that you feel very comfortable doing the exercise and not considering it a sacrifice or an obligation.
Of course, your health condition must always be taken into account before deciding what physical activity you are going to try. So, check with your doctor.
If you have the green light from your doctor and you have already chosen your activity, start by doing it and inviting your significant other, if he or she shares the same interests as yours; and, if not, do it for a while alone until you begin to experience the benefits that this activity will provide. Not only will you notice these benefits, but your family will also see your changes, and, at that time, the “general family change” will begin. When one is convinced of something, it is much easier to transmit it to others.
Their interests are not necessarily my interests.
If you already have a sport or physical activity that you practice because you have just discovered it, or you have practiced it for a long time, or because you have always had the dream of practicing it, this does not mean that your children or the rest of the family necessarily have to do it too. The passion for a sport can not be imposed; we either feel this passion, or we do not feel it. It is something given to us by our abilities and interests.
We, as parents can: suggest, explore, and expose our children to different options, but it is they who, in the long run, decide whether they want to continue or not. Pressure from parents will only discourage them and reduce their self-esteem, which can affect many other areas.
So, the next time your child tells you he or she does not want to be the baseball player, tennis player, swimmer, etc., that you wanted to be when you were young, stop before criticizing or pressing him or her.
The best thing is to expose them to different options, not only of formal sports but of unstructured physical activities. The important thing here is that the “fun” factor is always present.
You and the child will eventually realize what he or she likes and what their level of ability is. These two aspects are inseparable when deciding what sport or physical activity is going to be practiced.
We know that from Monday to Friday, the daily routine is usually the same. Get up, children go to school, we go to work, we leave work, children go to training (if they have it), we do chores with the children, then dinner, and sleep. There is not a lot of difference in our days.
But, on weekends we do not have to follow the same routine! Choose options where there is, at least, a fun physical activity involved for the whole family. Each family is different, but it can be: a bike ride to various parks or the beach, frisbee, baseball courts, trampoline places, a simple game of basketball, paddle tennis on the beach, etc.
You will ask me, but how can I convince my son to do this when he wants to be stuck on their devices.
– Promise that it will not be more than 1 hour
– Let them know that you will do it too
– Agree that they could come back in 1 hour to keep playing their game or do whatever they want
– Insist but in the right way
If any of these do not work, here you have an “emergency tool”: invite a friend of your child to join. This tactic rarely fails.
It is possible that they do it in the first place to please you or, to get rid of you….but it does not matter. It is sure that if it is fun, they will get hooked on the activity and enjoy it and, if you keep your promise that it was not going to be too long, the second time you invite them, they will want to do it without so much pressure.
Consistency but not too much seriousness:
We know that practicing sports went from being a way in which children had fun while exercising, to a lucrative business where there are economic interests and, therefore, a lot of pressure is exerted on children from a very young age to obtain results. Besides, many parents consider formal sports as a way to achieve scholarships that would reduce future investments in their children’s colleges. All of this represents an additional pressure for children to take responsibility and to see sports as an obligation and not a fun activity anymore.
Teaching children to do things consistently does not mean that they have to take those things too seriously; “too seriously” means that the fun element is lost. Remember that children are children because they find adventure and fun in everything. The moment these two elements disappear, their motivation and enthusiasm also go.
Which actions could be positive to develop consistency in your children sports?
1.- Getting to their practices on time.
2.- Making a schedule for them to do their homework on time before training
3.- Have them eat clean and be hydrated.
4.- Teach them to respect their coaches
5.- Instill sportsmanship.
6.- Encourage them to make their best effort to train and play well.
7.- Teach and show them how to handle stress and frustration.
8.- Teach them not to rely too much on specific results.
These are things that will teach the child consistency and discipline for both, the sport and other aspects of his life.
Which actions could be detrimental towards the motivation or performance of the child?
1.- Parents or coaches getting too intense or aggressive towards the child’s performance.
2.- Demanding specific results without taking into account the child’s level of ability, age, and effort.
3.-Yelling instructions or negative comments at children when they are playing.
4.-Parents becoming too aggressive towards other parents or coaches.
5.- Parents becoming mad or frustrated because their children didn’t perform as expected.
All these are things that give the message to the child that this is not a fun activity but an obligation. Here is when we ask ourselves:
Why does something that my child liked to do so much, suddenly not motivate him at all?
My child is not Lebron James, Ronaldo, or Serena Williams … now what ??
Today, more than ever, it is vital to understand that children do not tend to do physical activities or sports. We live in a society in which the best invention is the one in which the person moves the least. So, pretending that our children will ask us to enroll them in an outdoor sport, each time is further from reality.
Therefore, we have to be patient in the face of their natural resistance to move away from the front of “the screen” and the obvious numbed motor coordination they have towards sports or physical activities.
It is imperative that parents choose the place and the people who will take care of their children’s physical training very well. If these people do not have the pedagogy and ethics necessary to explore, evaluate, and positively reinforce the child’s abilities, they can demotivate or frustrate them for life.
To start that exploration, a place that offers a variety of activities is a good idea. The child will realize what they like and what they are good at, and the coaches will realize the child’s abilities; thus, they can recommend to the parents other more specialized programs for the child to perfect his or her talent.
In summary, if you want to get your family to engage in a more active life, start by doing it yourself; have patience with the other members of your family, offer them various plans where there are physical activities involved and, do not forget that you and the others must have fun in this whole process!
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