Corinne Austin | Personal Training

How to Role Model Good Health to your Kids

As parents, we’ve all used the old saying ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ Unfortunately, in terms of teaching our kids healthy behaviours and lifestyle habits, it’s more about them seeing you practice what you preach.

Your child is more likely to engage in greater levels of physical activity if you also make the time to exercise regularly. Similarly, your child will more likely make better nutritional choices if he sees you making healthy food choices yourself.

Indeed, as parents, you are permanently role-modelling acceptable behaviours and choices to your kids. You’re in a unique position: your actions and role-modelling are two of the most powerful influences in their lives. If you wish for them to grow up happy, healthy, and well-informed about good lifestyle habits, then it’s time to review and reflect upon what you are currently unconsciously teaching them.

Parents don’t need to be elite athletes or high performers to impact their child’s desire to engage in regular physical activity. It’s the simple act of planning and embarking upon regular exercise that is key here – from walking the dog to fixing up the deck, from picking rocks up out of the paddock to attending bootcamp sessions – it’s all physical activity. And all of these will be deemed acceptable and normal ways of living when it’s viewed by the younger eyes in your household.

With the influential power of role-modelling, we must also be careful to not promote negative behaviours which may counteract the healthy behaviours we are trying to convey to our kids. Parents who exhibit couch potato behavior or have poor dietary habits are more likely to have children who overdose on screen time, or who live life on foods which are highly processed and full of sugar. Children who don’t get enough physical activity and who have poor nutrition will have more difficulties at school – on both social and academic levels. But that’s a story I’ll have to tell another day…

It must also be highlighted that role-modelling of healthy behaviours must also be backed up with parental facilitation, encouragement, and involvement in the childs physical activity. These three factors are equally as important as the role-modelling itself. Parents need to provide opportunities for their kids to be active, praise and encourage these behaviours, and be involved in some way in the activity too. Most importantly – make sure they’re having fun whilst doing it. Fun and laughter will sell any activity.

So, how can we create opportunities to exercise as a family? Here are a couple of great ideas (alter them to suit the age of your children):

  • Explore natures playground – for example, visit a local beach, collect sea shells, and have races along the sand.
  • Treasure hunts! Hide balloons, coins, clues – get creative.
  • Hide and Seek and other similar games.
  • Head to the local pools. Have handstand competitions, dive down to collect items off the bottom, throw a ball around, have water running races.
  • Kick a ball and give them turns to chase after it.
  • Go to the park. Be a monkey yourself. Your energy will become their energy.
  • Buy some basic props. Skipping ropes and hoola hoops provide hours of entertainment.
  • Search YouTube for old school exercise sessions. Get the kids to follow the direction of the instructor. You do it too! It’s a great laugh.
  • See who can do the best or most press-ups, pull-ups, squats, highest jumps, run around the house the fastest, etc.
  • Household jobs. Give them a couple each. It’s a race to see who can do the best quality job in the best time.
  • For birthday parties do something active – rock wall climbing or ten pin bowling.
  • Let the kids make up their own game. Be actively involved.
  • Tag! There are many variations with this too.
  • Walk/ride to school and back. Or dawdle and collect stones. Either way, it’s more active than driving the car.

The opportunities to exercise as a family are endless. Plan it as quality time together – especially in the weekend when everyone has a bit more time. Set your kids up to live the best life possible. Get involved in their activity and their health. Encourage, motivate, and support.

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