Raising kids to become healthy, well-adjusted adults is every parent’s goal. But not every kid is open to suggestions that connote “health.” So if you’re struggling to convince your child that making healthy choices is worth their time, what should you do?
There’s nothing wrong with a little well-intentioned bribery when it comes to your child’s health. Parents offer incentives for lots of things; they pay allowances for chores, give special deserts if their kids eat all their veggies and buy multivitamins for teens that taste like candy. It’s OK to incentivize exercise too.
If your child has a chore list that must be completed to earn privileges in your home, add daily exercise to the list. Make something important to them, such as screen time, dependent on exercising first. If these ideas seem too coercive to you, flat out offer to pay them for it. An extra $5 or $10 tacked on to their weekly allowance might be the push they need.
Play Active Video Games
Most kids love video games. Many parents worry that their kids are spending too much time with their screens, but this could be the secret weapon you’ve been looking for. There are a lot of actual fitness programs out there for video game systems, but children are often as resistant to these as to any other exercise routine. The trick is to get them playing entertaining games that just happen to involve a lot of physical activity.
Most major game systems today have games that use a sensor bar, motion controllers and some kind of specialty mat or platform. Using these tools, your kids have to actually move their bodies to play the video game. They can duck, bob and weave with a boxing game; jog, hit baseballs or play tennis in a sports game; or get a great cardio workout dancing to popular music.
Join Forces With Other Parents
Children love to do whatever their friends are doing. In fact, as a parent, you may spend a lot of time worrying that your child will do things they shouldn’t because of peer pressure. Why not turn that tendency into something positive?
There are undoubtedly other parents in your circle who want their kids to get more active as well. Reach out to them and talk about getting all your kids into an activity together. Your child and theirs are more likely to say yes to joining a soccer team or starting karate class if a few of their best friends are joining too.
The CDC says that nearly 20% of Americans under the age of 19 are clinically obese. Given the serious consequences of childhood obesity, it’s worth reallocating some funds in your budget to invest in things that will mitigate them.
For the cost of a new iPhone that your child doesn’t really need, you could buy an above-ground pool that will keep your kids and their friends active all summer long. Instead of those expensive tennis shoes your teen wants, invest in a pair of in-line skates or a cool skateboard. The average family could afford a membership to their local community center gym if they just cut their consumption of soda in half.
It’s worth parents’ time and effort to find creative ways to support their kids in making healthy choices. Sneak in some exercise with video games; get their friends involved; invest in their fitness where you can; even bribe them if you have to. If your efforts result in a healthier and happier child, it’ll be the best investment of time and money that you’ve ever made.