What Motivates Kids?
So there’s a lot to gain from regular physical activity, but how do you encourage kids to do it? The three keys are:
1.Choosing the right activities for a child’s age: If you don’t, the child may be bored or frustrated.
2.Giving kids plenty of opportunity to be active: Kids need parents to make activity easy by providing equipment and taking them to playgrounds and other active spots.
3.Keeping the focus on fun: Kids won’t do something they don’t enjoy.
When kids enjoy an activity, they want to do more of it. Practicing a skill — whether it’s swimming or riding a tricycle — improves their abilities and helps them feel accomplished, especially when the effort is noticed and praised. These good feelings often make kids want to continue the activity and even try others.
The best way for kids to get physical activity is by incorporating physical activity into their daily routine. Toddlers and preschoolers should play actively several times a day. Children 6 to 17 years should do 60 minutes or more physical activity daily. This can include free play at home, active time at school, and participation in classes or organized sports.
Here’s Some Age-Based Advice:
Preschoolers: Preschoolers need play and exercise that helps them continue to develop important motor skills — kicking or throwing a ball, playing tag or follow the leader, hopping on one foot, riding a trike or bike with training wheels, freeze dancing, or running obstacle courses.
Although some sports leagues may be open to kids as young as 4, organized and team sports are not recommended until they’re a little older. Preschoolers can’t understand complex rules and often lack the attention span, skills, and coordination needed to play sports. Instead of learning to play a sport, they should work on fundamental skills.
School-age: With school-age kids spending more time on sedentary pursuits like watching TV and playing computer games, the challenge for parents is to help them find physical activities they enjoy and feel successful doing. These can range from traditional sports like baseball and basketball to martial arts, biking, hiking, and playing outside.
As kids learn basic skills and simple rules in the early school-age years, there might only be a few athletic standouts. As kids get older, differences in ability and personality become more apparent. Commitment and interest level often go along with ability, which is why it’s important to find an activity that’s right for your child. Schedules start getting busy during these years, but don’t forget to set aside some time for free play.
Teenagers: Teens have many choices when it comes to being active — from school sports to after-school interests, such as yoga or skateboarding. It’s important to remember that physical activity must be planned and often has to be sandwiched between various responsibilities and commitments.
Do what you can to make it easy for your teen to exercise by providing transportation and the necessary gear or equipment (including workout clothes). In some cases, the right clothes and shoes might help a shy teen feel comfortable biking or going to the gym.