In an age where young people are captivated by technology, it isn’t always easy to keep them active and involved in sports.
Other times, other customs
If you are a parent, you were probably born a few decades ago. You have probably heard your own parents utter the phrase "In my day..." and today, you may find yourself saying something along the same lines. If, like many people, you have a tendency for nostalgia, you may recall the good old days when playing outside was a favourite activity for children and teenagers.
Times change, and today, interest for technology is growing. It’s not the only factor contributing to a sedentary lifestyle, but its impact on the various aspects of children’s development, health and life is of particular concern for many parents—and rightly so! If you are among those who believe that nothing is more beneficial for children and adolescents than sports and outdoor activities, you are probably right. The big question now is—how do you motivate them to get more active?
Playing outside—nothing is more beneficial 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 provide many benefits, mainly because they:
- contribute to maintaining good health
- promote the development of motor skills
- whet the appetite
- reduce stress and restlessness
- improve concentration
- promote restorative sleep
- stimulate creativity, achievement, and self-confidence
- contribute to the development of social and relational skills (cooperation, sharing, team spirit, etc.).
So, encourage your children to play outside, and take advantage of the opportunity to go outside with them!
Leading by example
You have probably often noticed that children tend to imitate their parents. What better legacy to offer them than a healthy lifestyle with an emphasis on outdoor activities and sports? If your child senses that these activities are off-putting or boring to you, their enthusiasm may be dampened. On the other hand, if they see how much you enjoy going outdoors, you’ll make them want to join in!
Lifestyle and interests develop largely during childhood and adolescence. You can instill your child's desire to be active and to surpass themselves by playing sports yourself and by making outdoor activities a top priority for your family. The same goes for a healthy and balanced diet; your child is watching you and their brain is taking notes! So set a good example by adopting behaviours that promote well-being and optimal health.
When it comes to performance, moderation is key!
The desire for performance is the fuel that drives human beings to achieve, create, excel, and surpass themselves. A healthy desire to perform often brings out the best in people. However, parents must be careful not to put too much pressure on youth. It is important to remember that stress is not always very far removed from anxiety, which can be harmful. Children and adolescents may not 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 standards of success. When pressure gives way to positive reinforcement in the form of praise, congratulations, and encouragement, children are more likely to thrive on healthy motivation and are more likely to shine. Remember the importance of celebrating success and be forgiving of "less successful" endeavors! Encourage effort, initiative, diligence, and perseverance. The pleasure of staying active will then have its rightful place.
In conclusion—some advice
- Keep a balance between structured sports (e.g., team sports, ballet, etc.) and non-structured activities (playing ball in the yard, hiking in the forest, etc.).
- Help your child discover the activities they like and that motivate them. Avoid imposing activities as much as possible.
- Limit the time allotted to screens by establishing a rule (e.g., 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!