Your kids may have started wanting to walk 10 steps ahead of you at school — cough, cough, never happened — or they might roll their eyes so often you’re worried. Like the old wives tale goes, they might actually stay that way … but even though they won’t admit it they’re still looking to you to show them how to live their lives.
When it comes to physical activity, the need for parents to be role models is especially important. According to an article in Gateway, a study conducted at the University of Alberta — in which kids in Grade 5 wore pedometers to accurately measure their daily activity level — “found that the most active children had parents who placed a higher value on their own personal fitness, reported greater encouragement of their children to be active, and frequently participated in physical activities with their children. Furthermore, this effect was most strongly observed on weekend days.”
In other words, it’s not enough to sign your kids up for soccer, dance, and tennis; if you want to encourage your kids to live a healthy, active lifestyle, you’re going to have to practice what you preach. No, this doesn’t mean you have to sign up for boot camp, or start training for the next marathon. It can be as simple as letting your child see you taking the steps instead of the escalator, or organizing a family walk or bike ride just because it’s a beautiful day (or even when it’s not).
If you need some inspiration, take a look at articles from real life role models (mostly parents just like you) who are making physical literacy and physical activity part of their family life. Take it from this mother who forced herself to climb a rope tower just to show her kid it could be done; what you do matters.
Need more proof? Check out this powerful Australian commercial that shows kids are always watching us. Apologies for the upcoming goosebumps.