Over the years, in dealing with our adorably willful, now 6-year-old daughter, my husband has often joked that you don’t negotiate with terrorists – and he’s right. Younger children especially know that phony tears, shrieking tantrums, whining, and perhaps the most deadly, the “I thought you loved me” face, are all tactics that can petrify parents.
But some things, like walking to school, are worth fighting for. Aside from the obvious health benefits of the exercise, it’s been proven that physical activity in the morning helps kids academically, too.
Winter can make walking a tough sell for kids. Especially when, like this year, it seems as though it will never end. So when those two cornerstones of good parenting – bribery and blackmail – don’t work (I’m kidding, mostly), consider these tips, tricks, and games to help make your battle a walk in the park.
1. Be prepared
It’s not enough for your kid to be dressed for the weather, you need to be ready too, and leave early because there will be lots of dawdling, sudden stops, and unexplained sitting down.
2. Check your ego/dignity at the door
You know those moments when your baby was crying and you’d do anything to make them stop? Channel that. Be ready to march, run, pretend fly, sing, moonwalk even. If they’re having fun, who cares?
3. Embrace the moment
Literally. This is a great time to hold your kid close to you, and really talk.
4. Multi-season game: car bingo
Sure, its no Candy Crush, but this game of picking a color, and seeing who can be the first to spot 10 cars in that hue keeps my daughter alert and entertained, and her need to spot a car before me has her moving quickly, too. Bonus exercise comes courtesy of her “in-your-face” dance.
5. Winter game: explorers
Gather up as many sticks as you can before you leave, and then every time you see a large mountain of snow, climb it and plant those sticks in the snow as if they were flags.
6. Multi-season brain busters
Alphabetical Going on a Picnic Game, Geography, Name that Tune, I Spy. Get nostalgic and play all the games you loved as a child.
7. Buddy system
One of the easiest ways to get kids to do anything is to get their friends on board, so find another family, or just offer to take turns with each other’s kids to make it a fun walk for all.
This is what works for my winter warrior, but most of these can be used or adjusted to your child’s unique personalities. In the comment section below, I’d love to hear your thoughts, strategies, and any anecdotes you could share on what gets your kids going.