Before tablets, laptops, and smartphones became common household items, kids kept themselves busy by being active. Remember the days when you’d stay outside until the street lights came on or your parents hollered at you to come inside?
Things have changed. Sure, kids still like to play outdoors, but they can also be perfectly content with a screen for hours. And while everyone, including kids, needs a little bit of R&R, too much screen time is concerning.
So what’s the key to ensuring your child remains active? Here are five ways you can get your kid off the couch and integrate movement into their daily lives.
1. Get Tech on Your Side
A kids smartwatch is a great way to promote activity in your child’s life — and for more reasons than one. First, it promotes healthy competition among family and friends. A smartwatch for kids typically has step-counting capabilities. If any adults or kids they know are also counting steps on their smartwatches or Fitbits, they can compare step counts.
Second, what kid doesn’t want to be like all the big kids? So many teens and adults have smartwatches these days. Giving a kid something they feel is only reserved for adults will make them feel special — and excited about putting it to use.
In addition to the activity smartwatches encourage, you’ll have peace of mind knowing where your child is, thanks to the device’s GPS tracking feature. Your child can also use the watch’s built-in phone to contact you wherever their wanderings take them.
2. Fill Your Calendar With Fun, Kid-Friendly Activities
Activity is more fun when it isn’t forced. And if kids have an event to look forward to, it will seem more like something exciting to do rather than work. So load up the family calendar with outings and events that have movement baked in.
For kids, being active doesn’t have to mean intense exercise. Sometimes, it’s just about getting them out of the house and doing something interesting that requires walking, running, etc. A walk of several city blocks is as valuable as a lap around the track.
A family organizer app can help you plan all those activities without getting overwhelmed. You might schedule a trip to the zoo, visit a museum, or simply have a picnic in the park. Whatever you plan, these apps will help you easily keep track of your schedule so that nothing fun falls through the cracks.
3. Use Positive Reinforcement
When encouraging kids to be active, you might have more success if you offer a reward. For example, tell your kid if they participate in something active for two hours, you’ll let them have one hour of screen time. Then work your way up from there. Encourage them to be active for an entire week. If they reach their goal, take them out to eat at their favorite restaurant.
There is nothing wrong with a little positive reinforcement when it comes to promoting activity, movement, and an overall healthier lifestyle. So find a few things that will incentivize your child that you see as reasonable rewards. Then start using those positive reinforcements to initiate movement in your child’s everyday life.
4. Sign Them Up for Sports
One of the easiest ways to get your child up and moving is by signing them up for activities where attendance is required. Soccer, basketball, and baseball or T-ball are perennial favorites. Or perhaps gymnastics or dance will be more your child’s speed. As long as it requires movement and your kid enjoys it, it’s a win.
These activities will allow your child to interact with kids their age and get exercise all while having fun. The best part? They might even end up loving something you sign them up for and decide to pursue it long-term.
An undergraduate research study found that daily exercise among college students reduces the likelihood of depression, helps prevent disease, and boosts grades. Why not get your child started now? The benefits are endless, and it’s one of the best ways to promote a healthy lifestyle that will be sustainable long-term.
5. Purchase Outdoor Play Equipment and Toys
You might have a great idea for getting your kid motivated to go outside, but what happens when they actually get there? In pre-digital times, kids drew with chalk and played make-believe. But today’s kids are used to a little more stimulation; they might need some toys and other play equipment to keep themselves occupied.
Buy them a set of bases and let them play kickball or softball with the neighbor kids. Purchase an outdoor playset or trampoline for the backyard. Let them pick out a bike or scooter that they love from the sporting goods store.
Although these items may seem pricey, you have to look at them as an investment. If they get your kid outside and developing healthy habits, those purchases will be well worth it.
Technology is a wonderful thing — sometimes. Of course, it’s handy that so much can be done with the touch of a button. Still, you don’t want to raise your child to think that physical activity isn’t important. That’s why you need to find ways to incorporate movement into your child’s everyday life. This doesn’t mean taking away screens completely; it just means finding a healthy balance.