Three years ago today I posted an article about fostering an active lifestyle for your children (see here). My son was 3 years old and my daughter just 15 months.
At the time, I wondered if my kids would remain as enthusiastic about exercise as they grew older. No one knows what the future will bring. All that I could do was encourage the kids to remain active and hope that they followed suit.
To my surprise, their eagerness about playing in the gym has changed. As toddlers, they always asked for gym time but their attention spans were limited. Three years later, they still ask to play in the gym, but now I can’t get them to leave. My son wants to practice sports before school. He heads right to the gym after school. My daughter wants to practice new “moves” while her brother is at school so she can show him up after. A day doesn’t pass without the kids asking for gym and sports time.
Ironically, I have never once told my kids to exercise or play sports. They want to do what they see their parents doing. My kids have grown up watching us train. When my kids see me do something, they want to try it. It is human nature for kids to imitate their parents.
Telling the kids to do something is not nearly as effective as personally demonstrating through daily actions. Children are much more attentive than many realize. They listen to what you say. They watch what you do. They watch how you act. They watch how you interact with others. Everything that you do around them is taken in and processed. Kids are like sponges. They absorb everything.
If you want your kids to become more active, become more active yourself. Change starts at home. Parents need to lead from the front. It isn’t the world’s responsibility to raise your children. The most important job of a parent is to serve as a valuable role model.
And please don’t confuse my message. I’m not here to suggest that we force our children to become athletes. I just want my children to be healthy and active so they can enjoy the world around them. Most kids start with an eagerness to play. They enjoy running around. They enjoy being physically active. Parents need to continually encourage and promote such activity. Fortunately, it is easy to do. Get off your ass and play with them. Go for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Throw the ball. Do something.
If all your kids see you do is text on the phone and watch television, that’s what they are going to do. Kids will follow your lead. If you remain active, it’s likely they will too. If you sit around and do nothing, that’s the life that they will learn to live.
Lead from the front.
“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” – Khalil Gibran