1. Get Friends Involved
Try to sign up your child for activities with his or her friends. Make a few phone calls to the parents of your child’s friends to see if there is interest. Once you have them playing together, try to carpool with the other kids, and perhaps take it a step further by taking the kids out for a healthy snack when the activity is over. Strong bonds of friendship mean the world to children, and this little extra effort will be an enormous help in motivating your child to stay with an activity.
2. Choose the Right Activities
Sometimes, children are placed in the wrong activity. If your child is shy or timid, aggressive sports like football may not be right for her, or if your child is not particularly fast, track may not be the best activity. Place your child in an activity you know she will be comfortable with, and take into account her personality, skills, size and desires. Select an activity in which she may experience some success. Talk to your child to find out what activity excites her, and try to build on that excitement. As an added benefit, you may find out something new that you never would have known about your child.
3. Make Fun the Focus
For many kids, as soon as the focus of an activity becomes “being the best” or winning all the time, much of the fun, and a good deal of the interest, are lost. Find an activity that is enjoyable to your child, one with the right type of leadership from a coach, teacher or mentor. Teach your child to always give his best effort, and to be proud of his accomplishments. Teach him to strive to be the best he can be, and always compliment his efforts.
4. Teach Kids the Health Benefits of Physical Exercise
Whether they are playing sports or doing calisthenics, children should understand that the activity is helping them to stay healthy. Talk to your children about the health benefits of their activities. For example, if your child is on the track team and participates in the mile run, compliment his performance in the race, and mention that running improves his cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Explain how he is making his heart stronger and improving his ability to run further and faster.
5. Teach Kids That Physical Activity Improves Cognitive Skills
It is now well established that exercise and physical activity lead to improved brain function. Exercise can, in fact, create a stronger, faster brain. Tell your kids that every form of exercise they do causes more blood to travel to the brain, which in turn helps new brain cells to grow, leading to better cognitive skills.
6. Teach Kids How Physical Activity Reduces Stress
A brisk walk, a basketball game, or aerobics can help you relax, divert you from the causes of your stress and improve your mood and temper. If your child gets upset easily because she has a lot on her plate, get her to step back and take the time to “smell the roses” with an exercise break.
7. Make Physical Activity a Family Event
By making physical activity a family event and encouraging playing sport or just playing in general, you are not only promoting a healthy lifestyle to the children involved, you’re also being a good role model.
8. Build Kids’ Self-Esteem with Success
Children with high self-esteem have confidence in their ability to perform daily tasks or face a variety of challenges in life. For some children, it’s a pretty natural quality that comes easy to them, but for others, it is acquired through life experiences and lessons taught by those around them. As parents, you generally want to build up our children’s self-esteem as best as you can so they have the confidence to excel in activities as well as life in general.