Over the years, I’ve tried my best as a parent to foster a love for physical activity in my kids. Teaching them wellness through movement is investing in their healthy future, so I am obviously motivated to do it. One thing I’ve come to realize is that not only do parents play a very important role in getting kids moving and positively influencing them to participate in sport, but there’s a lot we can do to help nurture their love of being active.
Here are some of my best tips on how to do just that.
1. Reinforce that girls can play too
Even in a dress. It doesn’t matter to me what the kids wear, especially my girls. Do you want to wear a skirt on your ride? Do it. Do you want to wear a dress under the hockey gear? Do it. Do you want to wear a dress when you’re hiking? Just do it. There is a time and a place for technical fabric, but most of the time, I don’t care what you wear, I just care that you’re out there, moving and smiling.
2. Try new things and make it super fun by doing it with friends
You can celebrate the challenges and the successes together.
3. Teach resilience
Crashes happen. There are some things your kids won’t be quite ready for, but it’s important to know that it’s fantastic that they tried. When they’re ready, and only when they feel very good and ready, it’ll be waiting for them to try again.
4. Be a role model
It can be as simple as a walk in the park, but take the time for yourself to be physically active, and let your kids see.
5. Encourage sport through art
Having visual art or sports books as part of the things that surround us will demonstrate the things that are meaningful to us and make us whole.
6. Make it a family affair
And have fun doing it by taking a moment to be silly together.
7. Aim for the sky
Because achieving their full potential, might even surprise them!
8. Set goals
Even if that goal is sometimes simply ice cream at the end of the bike ride.
9. Reinforce the good feelings
It feels good when you achieve something, whether it comes with a medal or not! Take pictures, give high fives, praise the hard work, and be impressed by them.
10. It’s okay to take a rest
We all need it sometimes.
11. Teach them to be creative
Maybe they can make up their own sport?
12. Think outside the box
Introduce active games like geocaching. Someday, if your kids opt out of organized sports, provide the building blocks to stay active on their own.
13. Teach them to be team players
On and off the playing field.
14. When they ask to try something new, let them try
Every time. Let them try.
15. Have them take ownership
For example, have them understand how all their gear works and also have them take ownership in caring for it.
16. Remind them of Mother Nature’s wonders
17. Let them play. Freely
18. Choose sports and activities that all siblings can be included in
When they can all participate, no matter what their level of abilities are, it becomes a family affair.
19. Always, always show me your “grrr” face!
Photos courtesy of Van Colden.