How to be an active example for your kids: advice from the pros

How to be an active example for your kids: advice from the pros

Back in October, we asked parents to make a promise to focus on three things that would help their kids develop physical literacy. One of those three things was putting yourself at the top of the list and being an active role model.

When you’re chasing after kids, trying to run a business or manage a career, and have a household to maintain, it can get a little tricky to take care of yourself. So we asked our group of Role Models for their best advice on modeling active healthy choices for your kids. Here are their responses:

“Find activities that promote health which your kids love and do it often (and do it with them). For example, they like playing at the playground, well they will doubly love it if you are playing there with them.”
— Dai Manuel, The Whole Life Fitness Manifesto

“Lead by example and be the parent you aspire your children to be to your grandbabies. Love, kindness, care, health, happiness.”
— Christie Kennedy, The Whole Life Manifesto

“While I am constantly trying to get my kids moving and active, sometimes it’s the other way around. The slow mom in me loves that when my daughter and I go for a walk together she encourages me to run. “You can do it, mom!” My 10-year-old knows that I would like to be a runner, and we switch between walking and running when we’re out together.”
— Puneeta Varma, Ketchup Moms

“Do things you love with your entire family. My husband is a huge hockey guy who grew up around the rink, and went on to become a zamboni guy and a goalie. We’ll go to family skating together and he will skate with the kids, and then we’ll have a rest on the bench while he does a couple laps by himself (forwards and backwards). The kids absolutely love seeing him do this, and love it even more when he comes and does the next lap with them in his arms.”
— Holly LaRochelle, The Inspired Home

“I have always found the best way to be an active role model for my daughter is to seek out activity options for myself while she is doing her sports, taking advantage of the facilities where she practices to get active myself. I’m rarely the sit-in-the-stands mom, and she notices — the other day when I mentioned I needed to skip aquafit to do some errands she said, ‘but you LIKE aquafit!’ So I went and I did like it. (Who needs groceries anyway, right?)”
— Heather Gardiner, Shift Mama

“For me, I always have to watch my language when I talk about exercise. Even on days where I’ve had the most miserable workout ever, I try. To frame it in a positive light. Instead of saying, ‘that run sucked’ I say, ‘it was difficult, but I finished!’ Modeling good behaviour is also key. Taking care of your gear, wearing appropriate protective gear (I’m the only mom who wears a bike helmet), and obeying safety rules.”
— Jennifer Pinarski, Now Get Outside

“I still do my basement workout when my little ones get up early. It’s a pain sometimes, as they want my attention, but I have to believe I’m reinforcing fitness as a priority in our house.”
— Kathryn Lagden, Burlington Parents

“This one is really small (but very achievable). We always do the ‘park far away from where you’re going’ thing. And my kids know why. It’s such an easy way to add a bit more activity to a day. And there’s way less stress looking for a parking spot when you want the one that’s far away. Another one for me is to be transparent in what I’m doing when it relates to my own physical activity. If I’m going out for a walk with a friend, I don’t just say I’m going out. I tell my kids what I’m doing and why. If I’m going up the street to work out with some neighbours, I tell the kids that’s what I’m doing. Because my solo activity time comes when they aren’t around, when I can work in talk about my physical activity (or their dad’s), I do. It’s one thing to do stuff together as a family. But I also want them to know I do it on my own, too.”
— Stephanie Slate

“Try new things. After we encouraged our kids to do triathlons we realized we had never done one. Now we have each done a few and the kids were at the finish lines. One of my kids spends 10 hours a week at gymnastics so I signed up for the Adult classes. Way too much fun! Kids wanted to rock climb so hubby and I took a one hour lesson so we could belay for them. And set goals — could be as small as finding three geocaches on the weekend, or as big as running five kilometers together. Now my kids are 9, 11, and 13, and all five of us ran our first 10 kilometer race this past Sept. They keep increasing the size of the goal! No idea where they get that from. Lol!”
— Deb Lowther, Boomer Nutrition

“We’re setting goals with our outdoor adventures. Today we’re biking 20 kilometers, today we’re going to cross-country ski for 10 kilometers each. Sometimes we remind our kids it’s not just for them but that mom and dad need to be active, too. I also focus on a lot of active transportation to school, and activities. Because we do so many active outings together they often have a hard time understanding that I swim and ski without them.”
— Kari Svenneby, Active Kids Club

“Lead by example! If you can walk or bike somewhere instead of drive, do it. Let the kids choose whether they scoot, bike, skip or walk.”
— Karen Ung, Get Outside Guide

“When my son started showing interest in riding a bike, I bought a bike for myself at the same time. I figured I couldn’t really push a sport or activity that I myself didn’t enjoy doing. I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a child but I got the hang of it pretty quickly and now it’s my favourite thing to do with my son. I think there’s great value in learning a sport or activity together. So often we try to introduce sports to our children that we already enjoy, or we shove them off to play a sport that we don’t actually play ourselves. To choose something and learn it together is a lot of fun. It’s a neat experience being a beginner at something and learning with your children when you are both at the same level.”
— Tanya Koob, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies

We’d love to hear how the whole role model thing has been going for you. Share your biggest successes and greatest challenges in the comment section below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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