This past weekend, I shared some great times with my kids. We hosted a BBQ party for our neighborhood friends, went to a pool party, watched a few movies, went to a dinner party at some friends, did a 2.5 mile fun run at the Hazel Dell Parade, hiked Hamilton Mountain, lots of trampoline jumping and hot tubbing, dinner at Beaches restaurant…It was a great weekend. But to my dismay, when I asked my 10 year old daughter what her favorite party of the weekend was, her response was “I loved everything Mama, except for the hike and the run!”
Of course, my daughter would love everything except for the exercise!!! Ugh! So I said to her “Baby, would you prefer that I was really out of shape, sitting on the couch eating junk food all day while watching soap operas?!” Her response was “Mooommmmm” and a roll of the eyes!
I said “Baby, this is who I am. I love to be active. So as long as you’re living with me, we’re going to be hiking and biking and running and walking and kayaking and skiing….so you’re going to just have to deal with it and somehow learn how to love it. And hopefully one day you will appreciate all these great experiences!”
My belief is that as parents we have to set the good example. And my hope is that I will instill a love for exercise and activity that will just become second-nature to my kids. With that said, I have learned over the years that there are certain things I need to do to make these outings somewhat bearable for my kids.
1. Bring a friend – I will do whatever I can to invite a little friend to come along with us for our hikes, ski trips, biking etc. It makes a huge difference to the enjoyment level for my kids. If there are no friends along, they will moan and groan and complain. If friends are with us, I almost get glimpses of enjoyment! So friends make it fun for everyone!
2. Rock the music – My kids love their music so if I let them bring their IPODs, it makes the experience more fun for them. It’s a proven fact that music motivates for adults and kids!
3. Incentives (or otherwise known as bribery) – At this point, my kids do not have any internal motivation. They don’t seem to have any intrinsic joy just from reaching the top of a mountain, the end of a race or just from being active outdoors. So since they aren’t currently internally motivated, the only thing that seems to work is external motivation. So for example, on Sunday I told them if they made it past the waterfalls and back (3 miles), I would take them out to lunch. I’ve told them if they don’t complain once during our entire bike ride, I will buy them 2 toys at the dollar store. Or if they finish the race, I will take them out for frozen yogurt. So yeah, I guess I am bribing my kids but in my mind, I can justify my actions knowing that ultimately my intentions are solid.
4. Trick them – Kids typically don’t like exercise for the sake of exercise but if you disguise it as play, they are all for it. For example, a fun game of tag at the park is a great workout for everyone and a ton of fun for the kids. Hide and go seek where you make them hold a pose or do some form of exercise while they are hiding is a great way to involve some extra activity. Or a biking treasure hunt. Pick up games of soccer, volleyball, basketball or kick the can in your neighborhood is a great way to get all the kids active in your area.
If you are a parent and have learned other tips for getting your kids to enjoy exercise, please share your tips on my blog page. Maybe you will help all of us and most importantly, help our kids learn to love to move their bodies!
Yours in health and fitness,
ps. On that note, please join us with your kids for our 3 & 6 mile Summer Solstice Fun Run/Walk, Costume Contest and Live Band on Saturday evening June 25th. http://nwpersonaltraining.com/subs/events/event_details.php?event_id=140