The habits we instill in our kids carry with them throughout their life. When they become adults, either they will have to fight to undue bad habits that have been instilled in them or they will look back and thank you for the foundation that has been laid in their life. It’s never too late to start encouraging good health and fitness habits…no matter how old your kids are.
5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Exercise
1. Be Silly
Kids like to laugh. We adults need laughter too. After a long day (or a long night if you’re up at night taking care of babies!) sometimes it’s just plain hard to smile or be silly. These are the days my kids ask me why I have a “mad face” on. I tell them I’m not mad, I’m just quiet and thinking. I really have to work on my thinking face!
I’m challenging myself to step outside of my comfort zone, not just on these tired days, but every day, and be silly when you work out. It will attract your children and show them it’s fun. Pick exercise moves that make everyone laugh. Try spinning your arms like a windmill, flying like a plane, bear crawling around the room, playing chase in a circle, slithering like a snack on the floor, or jumping like a monkey. Watch the video to see how we do it!
2. Make it Short
Kids’ attention spans are about as long as their age. If you have a 5 year old, they are good for about 5 or so minutes.
Now, I firmly believe their endurance and attention span can be improved with training, routine, and patience on our parts to encourage and model for them to stick with it. But if you are just starting to incorporate your kids into your workouts give them some slack. If they hang with you for 5 minutes, praise them! That’s a step in the right direction because they are beginning to enjoy working out as a lifestyle.
BURSTClub workouts are the perfect option. They are 15 minutes from start to finish so even little ones can make it through the majority of the workout. You warm up for 3 minutes so this is the perfect time to deviate from the warm ups given on the website and make up your own silly routine. Then you stretch for 3 more minutes. You’re kids may not make it this long and that’s ok! Then get them all psyched up and ready with their first exercise as the BURSTTraxx starts to count down 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-GO!!!
Kids love the suspense of the BURSTTraxx music, it gives them a short, focused time to give it all, and then they love collapsing on the floor in exhaustion when the music says “3-2-1-Down.”
(Mine love to “ham” up their exhaustion, as you can see in the video)
3. Establish Exercise as a Lifestyle
If you’re kids know you BURST 3-5 times a week, pick the days you are “mandating” they do it with you. I have to be honest with you here. We have gone through seasons where it’s a battle or our kids complain about working out. These are the moments we’ve had to just let it go (some things aren’t worth a fight when you’re kids are 1, 3, and 5 – there are enough battles!).
However, now that are kids are getting older (11, 9, 6) they are involved in track and gymnastics and other sports and are starting to see the value of having an “edge” over their competitors. In spite of them knowing how valuable exercise is, we still have to encourage and set the time that they “will” work out with us. It’s a value of our families to have healthy fit bodies. We aren’t making them run 5 miles a day…we are talking 15 minutes. Most kids waste 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there (or in reality, an hour here and an hour there) all day long on a DS, IPhone, IPad, or Facebook. They can spare the 15 minutes.
You first have to establish in your own life that exercise is a value to you and your kids are more apt to follow as you include them in the lifestyle of it.
More is caught than taught.
Our kids are watching what we do, not just what we say. So make it a habit yourself to exercise 3-5 times a week and commit to the lifestyle of it – not the next 90 day fad. See “what to say” to help them comply with this lifestyle of activity on #5.
4. Talk about the Value
Kids are never too young to understand how the body works. You don’t have to be a scientist or a nutritionist to find fun ways to teach your kids about the human body. Ask questions and see what they value or play “Would you rather.”
Would you rather be tired and sick or strong and energized?
Would you rather be the fastest runner in your class or the slowest?
Would you rather sleep all day or climb a mountain?
Would you rather be someone who gives up when things get a little hard or someone who is known for working hard?
Come up with your own questions. Some of these may sound extreme, but “Extreme Questioning” is a technique many business leaders use to help clients come to a better understanding of what they value. We can apply the same principle to our children and their health to help them understand the value of exercise.
5. Offer Choices
One revolutionary thing I have learned as a parent is control doesn’t work. Threats don’t work. Shaming doesn’t work. So leave those tools in some other tool box because you aren’t going to need them to get you’re kids to exercise.
As parents, we aren’t trying to get our kids to do what we want. Our ultimate goal is to teach them to use their freedom wisely and learn to make wise choices. If you can equip and empower your children to understand their responsibility in every decision, stopped blaming mom and dad when they are in trouble and look within and realize it was their choices that got them there, you will have succeeded in the toughest job on the planet – parenting!
So how do you offer choices to help your kids exercise? (Hint: this principle can be applied to any thing you are trying to train your children on). It’s revolutionized our parenting.
Try a conversation something like this:
“Hey sweetie, exercising our body is important for you so that you are healthy and strong. I know you also want to do well in soccer (or football, P.E., etc.) this year so I want to help you. You are going to work out with me 2 times a week for just a few minutes on Tuesday and Saturday.”
“Aww mom (dad), I don’t feel like working out. It’s too hard.”
“Well sweetie, you are free to skip the workout, but if you do for the day just understand you are also skipping _______ (Iphone, IPad, DS, Play Station, Movies, Books, or whatever it is they escape to).”
Give them the choice, but with consequences. This is called teaching them to use their freedom wisely. They are free to workout or not workout, but their is a consequence either way.
Don’t shame them, say it with a sassy tone, or threaten. Simply say:
“It’s ok. You don’t have to workout today like we had planned to. But understand that if you choose to not workout, you are choosing to not play your _____ all day. You are free to have it back when you decide you’re ready to do your workout so just say the word and let me know when you’re up for it!”
And then it’s up to you, as the parent, to act like it. I tell you that in love. I see too many parents give in to their children’s whining, bargaining, or temper tantrums. Believe me, I’ve experienced them all! But you can’t be mad at your child for not complying if you aren’t willing to enforce what you mandated them to do. So stay true to your word. Remove the thing that is dearly loved (remember, because they chose it, not you!) until they come to you and say they are ready to workout. It could be days, but stick to your guns!
If you will do this, and be consistent, you will likely only have to enforce this once time and then they will join you willingly and will actually grow to love it! Especially if you’re conversation is respectful, your tone is kind, and you have somewhat of a lase-fare attitude – act like it’s not hurting you because it’s not your choice! It’s theirs! You are equipping them to understand at an early age that their choices have consequences. Sometimes those consequences are good (healthy body after working out) and sometimes those consequences are bad (choosing to forfeit time on their electronic device until they decide they want to workout).
This may sound harsh to you, but you wouldn’t let your child drink poison or smoke a cigarette at age 8. We understand those aren’t valuable for their health so we put boundaries in place to prevent that and we don’t even think twice about it. But when it comes to helping our kids live healthy lives we feel “mean” for putting boundaries in place to encourage our kids towards a healthy lifestyle.
Now my babies are growing but we still BURST together!
I’d love to hear how these 5 tools help empower you as a parent to train your kids to love exercising like never before! What are some tricks and tips you can share with us all? I’d love to hear from you!