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Posted 01/23/2020

Raising an Active Child From Day One

Raising an Active Child From Day One

The reality of raising children in the modern 21st century is the opportunities for children to be active continue to decrease while the health needs of our population suggest being active is needed more than ever. Whether preventing disease and illness or just wanting your child to have their brains stimulated beyond screens and indoor play, there is a great need for raising active children. Here are four ideas for helping your child be active from day one and develop lifelong habits which will help them continue making choices to be active and healthy as teenagers and adults.

Practice Healthy Habits Yourself

Children learn from the modeling set before them each and every day. If you have certain practices you utilize to stay healthy and active keep them up, and if you have goals of developing other active habits then start right now. Children will benefit from watching you do things like exercise, meditate/relax, eating a healthy varied diet, utilizing medical care and other health-related habits. 

Also, make sure to include your children as much as possible in activities so you can bond and create positive memories around active habits. Cooking healthy meals or snacks together, going for walks or bike rides together, finding parent/child exercise or yoga classes and having your child accompany you to appointments are all ways to achieve this goal.

Encourage Outdoor Play All the Time

Depending on where you live you may find encouraging active outdoor play is easy or more challenging during certain seasons. If you live in a climate where there are distinct and varied seasons, make sure to purchase or find a wardrobe that encourages being outside. If you live in the northern areas of the United States where winter and snow/ice is a reality for at least half of the year, make sure you invest in quality winter coats, snow pants, kids snow boots, weather-proof gloves and hats. Find weather-specific outdoor festivals or activities for all seasons. This can be water parks or splash pads in the summer, playgrounds in the spring and fall, sledding and ice skating in the winter and sports or leisure activities outdoors all year round.

Active Indoor Opportunities

Even if the weather outside is not child-safe for periods of time during the year, there are still so many ways you can get your children moving. With individual and team sports for children of all ages, indoor play areas aimed at young children with large motor equipment, or even finding a child-specific YouTube channel that teaches children yoga-based movement and breathing, you can always find something to do. 

Other ideas for indoor activities that get children’s bodies moving and active include indoor swimming pools, indoor tumbling gyms, bowling alleys, open gyms for riding bikes or other sports equipment, indoor ice rinks, movement-based video games on the Nintendo Wii or other systems or just dancing around the house.

Limit Screen Time

While screens like television, tablets and smartphones can be helpful for children to utilize on occasion, the truth is most kids need far less screen time than they currently have access to in order to stimulate and develop their brains in the healthiest way. The recommended amount of time behind screens for children ages 2 and up is at most 2 hours per day and some organizations recommend 1 hour or less for those age 2-5. 

Find rhythms and routines which keep your kids from being able to sit and stare at their devices for big chunks of time and reserve screen time for days where it is more helpful. Examples of helpful times for screens might be sick days, while parent(s) are cooking or doing a household chore, or perhaps as an occasional reward.

While there is a lot vying for your child’s attention and the temptation to allow kids to be sedentary is higher than ever, there are so many opportunities for your child to be active and stimulated. By modeling an active lifestyle, encouraging daily outdoor play as much as possible, finding indoor activities that are movement-based and limiting screen time you will be helping your child develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

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