Today's guest post is from Amy K. Williams. Amy K. Williams is mother of two and a former social worker, specializing in teen behavioral issues. Parenting is her passion and she is especially involved in spreading the word about positive parenting techniques.
It can often be difficult to motivate a child to go outside, especially in this day and age. According to a recent study, only one in three kids in the United States are physically active every day. The challenge can be even more daunting if the child has a medical situation and might not be able to see why time spent outside can actually be good for them and their recovery. It is always best to speak to the child’s doctor, however, to see just how much physical activity they can safely handle.
Depending on the age of the child, parents will want to pick an activity that is as age appropriate as possible. For those kids on the younger side, for example, going to the gym or an extended run might be a little too much for them in the immediate future. However, more structured activities, such as an easy soccer game, swimming or a bike ride will be just what they need to coax them out of their shells. The games should be tailored to who they are both physically and emotionally.
Of course, the best way to help a child who is often cooped up indoors recovering is to be a role model. Children of all ages look up to their parents, and will often try and mimic them as much as possible. If the kids see mom and dad outside enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, they will be much more likely to get up off of the couch and join them. Once the kids get into the habit of being outside and physically active with their their parents or on their own, they will be totally hooked!
Kids are social creatures by nature, and never want to do anything alone. While the presence of a parent is key, the parents should also focus on setting up playdates with friends and encourage outdoor play. Even if a child is somewhat reluctant to do something that could be physically demanding, they will be much more likely to participate in the activity if they see their friends around them having a good time. Some gentle cajoling with peers will be all the motivation needed.
Limiting screen time will also be a great way to get a child outdoors. Even for kids who are recuperating from surgery will find themselves distracted for hours on end by an endless cycle of television and surfing the internet. By cutting off their access to electronics after a certain time period, such as an hour or two, the child will be much more likely to venture outdoors and play instead of whiling away the hours being bored and listless inside.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids should get no more than two hours of screen time each day, so parents needs to give their couch kids alternatives to these passive and unhealthy pastimes. Playing around at the local playground with friends or even just walking the dog with mom and dad are great ways to spend time outdoors instead of staring at a computer screen or television. To keep that temptation away, all electronics should be in a central location that can be monitored by each parent.
By simply working with a child, they can come out of their shells a little bit and more fully enjoy the world when they are not inside recuperating. Even for kids that have had surgery or face certain medical issues, outdoor exercise is essential for their emotional and physical well-being. Come up with fun and different activities, Parents, because you play a major role in getting the kids outside, and following our advice can make it that much easier on the whole family. Once the kids are outside, they will love the exercise!