The first step is to help the little ones make physical activity an everyday event, now and as they grow. "Movement and exercise for children should be a habit as common as brushing teeth daily, but more fun!" says Rae Pica, movement education specialist and author of A Running Start: How Play, Physical Activity and Free Time Create a Successful Child (Marlowe & Company). Teaching children about exercise is just one of the many things that parents do so that children start well.
Because it is important?
"The children were born to move," says Pica, noting that the movement helps children develop not only their bodies, but also their brains, their ability to learn and their social skills. "It has an impact not only on the physical development, but also on the cognitive, social and emotional development of every child." Early childhood is also the best time to establish good habits for children to seek and enjoy exercise instead of avoiding it. And, of course, starting early means reaping the benefits early! "Moderate to vigorous physical activity feeds the brain with water, glucose and oxygen, which we all need for optimal performance," says Pica. "And it starts up those endorphins, so we also feel better, that goes for parents and children."
Be an example to follow
Children can be "born to move," but if they do not see their parents making the exercises a priority, they will quickly become couch potatoes. "What is important for adults also becomes important for children," says Pica. Then, adults need to be good role models. Children are paying attention (even if they never seem to listen to us!). So make sure that yours see parents who exercise and enjoy it. Beyond being a good role model, it is up to you to promote the exercise to the children making sure they have time, space and opportunities to move and play. It is as easy and as difficult as that. If you feel challenged by living in an urban environment or extreme weather, you may need to be more creative to find those spaces and opportunities. And we all have the challenge of time: who can fit into everything we want and need to do? That's why making an exercise habit helps. We all find the time to brush those teeth; We need to find that time for the exercises too.
Play together, play together Play with your children give children playmates, show that you think playing is important and offers you the opportunity to move too. But children can also and should play independently. "Children will learn a lot when they play alone: problem solving, conflict resolution, creative self-expression," says Pica.
Try the following: