All kids need exercise. Stacks of scientific research through the years support the myriad ways exercise. This helps young bodies and minds as they develop and grow.
Message for Parents & Grandparents
It’s important, then, for parents and grandparents to encourage their children or grandchildren to be active and develop healthy habits. During such conversations, setting a positive tone is paramount.
Learning the values of good fitness and nutrition should be a confidence-building exercise for kids and adolescents. The goal should be to focus on the positive – on health, on fun, on long-term benefits.
Such conversational care is necessary in a world where, according to a 2016 Journal of Pediatrics study, more than half of kids ages 9 to 14 say they’re dissatisfied with the shapes of their bodies. Such negative self-image at such a young age can lead kids down unhealthy paths, both physically and emotionally.
Yes, childhood obesity is an epidemic in this country [affecting 13.7 million children and adolescents], but the problem isn’t based around weight or body shape. Concerns about obesity center around health issues, and it’s important to make that clear when talking with kids and teens.
To help achieve the right tone for these conversations, we offer the following “dos” and “don’ts” for communicating.
DON’T make it about weight. Being physically active has several benefits that have very little to do with weight. So, don’t make health synonymous with the numbers on a scale. Help kids accept who they are and what they look like.
DO focus on the benefits. When talking to kids about being physically active, make it about these benefits, both physical and mental. Exercise helps make you feel better, keeps you stronger and helps you concentrate and perform better in school. Make these benefits and others the focus of your conversations.
DON’T make exercise a chore. Yes, as adults, the prospect of hitting the gym every day can feel like a pain at times. But, always keep in mind your kids are watching. Help them understand why you take the time to keep yourself physically fit; and why you want such benefits for them.
DO keep exercising positive. Exercise should be fun, especially for kids and teens, and it’s up to us adults to encourage this. Play with your kids or grandkids, but also be there with encouragement and resources. When they show interest in something new with activities, such as cycling, skateboarding, running, etc or joining a sports team.
DON’T exclude kids from your activities. If you have any movement-based passions of your own, like running, cycling, hiking, skiing, etc., include your child. Sharing what you love with who you love is an invaluable way to communicate to your child that such activities can provide a lifetime of fun and appreciation.
If pain, injury or other movement limitations are keeping your child from experiencing a life of activity and physical fitness, visit our athletic trainer (sports rehab). Our athletic trainer can assess and treat many such limitations, and even provide suggestions and modifications that will allow a child to more fully participate in their activities of choice.