It turns out that dads have a lot of influence in how active their kids are. Here are 7 great ways that dads can make a big impact:
1. Be an active role model
A study titled “Influence of parents’ physical activity levels on activity levels of young children” found that children of active fathers are 3.5 times more likely to be active than children of inactive fathers. This is the perfect reason to try something new and to show your kids how committed you are to your own physical activity.
If you aren’t already active, you’ll soon see the impact on your entire family once you get moving yourself.
2. Encourage, encourage, encourage
If the kids know Dad is interested in what they are doing, they are more likely to keep it up. So dads, pay attention to your child’s activities. Notice when your son jumps rope 20 times in a row. Ask your daughter all about her Rally Cap game and what she liked about it. Watching your child, whether in an organized sport or in the backyard, shows that what they’re doing matters.
3. Play with your child
Playing with Dad not only gets kids active, but it helps them to regulate their emotions and develop their emotional intelligence, according to this Civitas article. If a child throws a tantrum while playing, Dad can address the issue with him. Children get on better with other children and become better suited for team environments – and life in general – if they understand their emotions and how to control them.
4. Roughhouse with your kids
Mom is typically the safe, nourishing parent, which allows Dad to be the unpredictable one. Roughhousing is good for kids for a number of reasons, as this Art of Manliness article points out. It improves your child’s resilience and helps them develop grit, rewires the brain for learning, helps build social intelligence, introduces respect for limits and boundaries, builds the father-child bond, and promotes physical activity. It also gives kids confidence to explore their environments and take risks, especially when Dad is by their side.
Don’t think this is just for boys, either – girls who roughhouse with their dads tend to have higher self-esteem and self-confidence, and are more prone to socialize during physical activity.
5. Get away with your child
The father-child – or family – getaway is a great way for children to get involved in a fresh batch of physical activities. My dad used to take me camping when I was a kid. We’d set up the tent. We’d walk down to the water station, fill up our thermoses and walk back. We’d hike through the bush.
Not only did this allow me to explore my surroundings as well as my physical capabilities, but Dad taught me about respecting the wilderness and all that lived within it. Instead of trying to hide the fact that there might be bears in the woods, he taught me what I’d need to do if I ever came across one.
The kind of life knowledge that fathers can impart during outings is invaluable.
6. Pass on your knowledge
Dads have had a lifetime of learning they can pass on to their children at different times – this is also true when it comes to physical activities. From a young age, my dad was teaching me how to throw a Frisbee, how to paddle the canoe properly (he gave me a kiddie paddle for my fifth birthday), how to fly a kite, and how to cast and reel the fishing rod. These are just a handful of things I learned from my dad when we were outside, playing and being active together, but they’re all things that still keep me active today.
7. Involve yourself
This Family Education article sites a study that followed a group of boys and girls for 26 years and examined the roles of both mothers and fathers in cultivating the child’s emotional health and empathy. The study found that the most influential factor in a child’s emotional health, by far, was how involved the father was in the child’s care. Children who have involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their physical surroundings, and have better social connections – all of which relate to physical literacy.