Sport and physical activity are an important part of a healthy childhood. Sport supports the growth and development of bones and muscles, helps to control weight, eases levels of anxiety & stress and helps children to foster social skills like fair play, teamwork and leadership. But how do you encourage kids to play sport when they are saturated and in some instances addicted to a range of digital devices?
- Lead by example -Our own behaviours are often passed down to children, so some of the best ways to get the kids out and about is to show them how you get involved with exercise. Head to the park as a family to play a game of soccer or cricket and be enthusiastic about it, seeing it as an opportunity to de-stress and relax.
- Offer your support -Encourage the kids and offer positive reinforcement, even if they aren't a natural “sports star”. Go to their matches, cheer them on, acknowledge their successes and do not dwell on any mistakes. The emphasis should be on effort and participation, rather than winning.
- Altering your home routine -At home, there are often many tempting distractions including TV, video games, laptops and mobile phones. Try to reduce the amount of 'screen time' the whole family is getting. It doesn’t have to mean taking the digital devices away completely, but rather restructuring some habits and routines. Instead of watching television for half an hour after dinner, why not go for a family walk or kick the ball around together in the backyard? That way you can get some exercise into your own day and show the kids there’s more to life than a screen.Rather than focusing family time on doing something passive like watching television or movies, mould the time around getting active instead. The more your kids do this while they’re young, the more healthy habits are likely to stick with them for life.