Keeping children and adolescents active

In an age where youth is captivated by technology, it isn't always easy to interest them in physical activity. Here is some advice in this sense.

OTHER TIMES, OTHER CUSTOMS

If you are a parent, you were probably born a few decades ago now. You have surely heard both your own parents utter the phrase "In my day..." and today, you may surprise yourself saying something along the same lines. If, like many people, you have a tendency for nostalgia, you may think back to the golden days when going out to play was a favourite activity for children and adolescents.

Customs change, and today, interest for technology is growing. This is not the only factor that promotes sedentariness, but its impact on the various aspects of development, on health and on the life of children is of particular concern for many parents—and rightly so! If you are among those who believe that there's nothing better for children and adolescents than sports and outdoor activities, you are probably right. The big question is—how do you motivate them to be more active?

PLAYING OUTSIDE—THERE'S NOTHING BETTER FOR CHILDREN!

It is well-known that children need to have fun, run, and create. Playing outside often allows them to do all of this at once. Outdoor sports have many benefits, mainly because they:

  • contribute to maintaining good health
  • promote motor skill development
  • whets the appetite
  • reduces agitation and stress levels
  • improves concentration
  • promotes restorative sleep
  • stimulates creativity, achievement, and self-confidence
  • contributes to social and relational skill development (cooperation, sharing, team spirit, etc.).

So, encourage your children to play outdoors and take advantage of the opportunity to go outside with them!

PLAYING OUTSIDE—THERE'S NOTHING BETTER FOR CHILDREN!

LEADING BY EXAMPLE

You have undoubtedly often noticed that children tend to imitate their parents. What better gift to offer them than healthy habits that have an emphasis on outdoor activities and sports. If your child feels that these activities put you off or bore you, it is likely to cool his/her enthusiasm. On the other hand, if he/she sees how much you enjoy going outdoors, you will make him/her want to go outside with you!

Lifestyle and interests develop mainly during childhood and adolescence. You can instill the love of physical activity and achievement in your child by participating in sports and making outdoor activities a family priority. This also applies to choosing a healthy and balanced diet; your child is watching you and his/her brain is taking notes! So, be a positive role model by choosing behaviours that promote well-being and optimal health.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE

IN TERMS OF PERFORMANCE, MODERATION IS THE KEY!

The willingness to perform is the actual fuel that pushes human beings to fully realize their potential, to achieve success, to create, and to excel. A healthy commitment to perform often brings out the best in people. However, parents must be careful not to put too much pressure on youth. It should not be forgotten that stress is not always very far from anxiety, which can be harmful. Children and adolescents do not necessarily have the tools to identify and express their emotions, including stress and anxiety.

It's good to step back and take stock of our own expectations and our standards for success. When pressure takes the back seat to positive reinforcement in the shape of validation, congratulations, and encouragement, children thrive on healthy motivation and are more likely to shine. Remember the importance of celebrating success and don't be too hard during less successful efforts! Encourage effort, initiative, diligence, and perseverance. That way, the fun of staying active will have its rightful place.

IN CONCLUSION—SOME ADVICE

  • Keep a balance between organized sports (i.e. team sports, ballet, etc.) and non-organized activities (playing ball in the yard, walking in the woods, etc.).
  • Help your child to discover activities he/she likes and that are stimulating. Avoid imposing them as much as possible.
  • Limit the time allotted to screens by establishing a rule (i.e. a maximum of two hours a day).
  • Ensure that the activities chosen are practised safely.
  • For more fun, invite grandparents and friends to join you in your activities!

NOW, IT'S YOUR TURN TO PLAY!

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Keeping children and adolescents active

In an age where youth is captivated by technology, it isn't always easy to interest them in physical activity. Here is some advice in this sense.
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