Running your kids………..
I usually don’t compare people to dogs, but then again, we are all animals by nature. As a dog lover of 6 ( 4 are rescue dogs ), I have 2 labs and a Golden and energy are their middle names, especially the Labs. I know quite well that if they don’t get that 15 to 20 minutes of exercise a day ( we play fetch and an interesting version of dog/person baseball ), they will likely get into trouble or dive me crazy . On the other hand. If they are given the attention to get things off their “paws”, they are loving, relatively calm ( Labs?) , and rest peacefully at night. If this sounds familiar to kids, you are dead on.
The plethora of studies emphasizing the beneficial effects of regular exercise for children far exceed the amount of space for this week’s column. I will instead suffice it to say, exercise is better than any magic pill for both the physical and emotional sides of life. What’s nice is that the effects are immediate and long lasting if they are fun and enjoyable.
But for most kids, exercise is boring unless they are really into sports. This lasts into the teenage years when some then decide to pay attention to their bodies and decide to get into shape or are forced to by that high school coach The motivation here for most of the teens is to attract the opposite sex and become stronger than the concept of exercise as a form of self-therapy and self-care. That comes into play for many adults. The rest of the teens and adults alike tend to be sedentary and often overweight and depressed.
Now, getting kids to exercise when they don’t want to is a common parental battle often compared to bring a horse to water. On this one, I think we pick this battle for it has to do with both the physical and mental health of our kids. As a loving parent, we owe them a long and healthy life. So, how do we win this one? It’s actually pretty easy especially if you have dogs.
1. Exercise yourself as an example to your kids. Modeling behavior as a parent carries a lot of weight. Most kids identify with their parents – both the good and not good stuff – Exercise and fitness is obviously a good one.
2. Exercise with your kids on a daily basis. I personally love this one. My kids and I do a variety of challenges daily. Running time trials ; swimming; tennis; or we make up games like “tickle monster”. We engage in one of these for 20 minutes a day and we all feel and act better towards one another.
3. Reward the behavior. Make the outcome a celebration – make a healthy smoothie together. Kids love to win by the way and parents need to be okay with losing.
4. Take turns making up sport or activity games. The rules might get a little confusing and change frequently, but the idea is that everyone plays and gets the benefits of exercise. Consider NOT keeping score to reduce competition unless they are all against you make a big deal if they beat you.
I officially recommend adding running to your parent list of “things to do with my kids everyday”, and watch the benefits before your eyes. Stay healthy.
Dr. Keith Kanner
Anchor/Host Your Family Matters
Mental Health Expert/Contributor
NBC California Nonstop