Your guide to getting your kids active – Amina Naguib30 June 2020
By Amina Naguib
For the love of the game & the little people playing it.
It always catches me by surprise when parents/friends ask for my advice about their kids’ workout habits, eating habits, or health habits in general. Despite being a coach, I get motherhood wrong on a daily basis. I’ve lost my tempe motherhood wrong on a daily basis.
I’ve lost my temper, I’ve refused to listen, I’ve forced my kids to do stuff they don’t want to do, and to be quite honest, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve bribed them with candy and iPads. I’ve also done motherhood well sometimes and it’s usually harder, but at those times, I applaud my kids and not my parenting skills.
We tend to forget that we are raising unique, little human beings, who are slowly coming into their own. No two kids are the same, so knowing your kid is key to influencing them in a positive way.
My background in sports science, physiotherapy and coaching do not give me the authority to advise other parents, but I’ll allow myself to share some thoughts and tips to get your kids excited to exercise.
1. WHEN YOU JUMP, THEY JUMP
You complain that your kid doesn’t exercise enough; he/she prefers to plop down on the couch and watch TV or play video games, but do you ever wonder if you are exercising enough?
Does your kid see you exercise? For as long as I can remember, my parents dragged me down to watch them work out or had me work out with them (flashback to Jane Fonda’s videotape and my mom’s fluorescent leggings). Consequently, starting from the third week of their lives, my daughters have experienced being strapped in a bouncy chair, watching me attempt to get through a workout.
I’d like to think that the torch will be passed on to their kids. Kids copy their parents, so whatever they see you do, they will do.
2. FRIENDS & GAMES
Have you ever tried bringing along one of their best friends to do a sport with them? Trust me, this one works like a charm. Exercise does not have to mean being on a scary competitive team. Exercise can be a game you play as a family. My kids love it when we blast the music really loud and just dance on the furniture. They also enjoy taking their bikes out for long rides.
3. NEVER BACK DOWN
Kids are relentless. Don’t let them talk you out of making them work out. Stand your ground. Be nice, patient and take them to practice. Do not give in or the same thing will keep happening over and over again.
4. YOUTUBE GOALS
Believe it or not, we watch tons of Believe it or not, we watch tons of YouTube videos of inspirational athletes. This has inspired my kids to have idols and to try out numerous sports. Don’t force them to play a sport they are not interested in. At our house, we don’t really care which sport you choose, as long as you do something, even if you change it a million times.
5. SHOWING UP
It sounds so basic, but kids really appreciate their parents watching them practice. After a long day at work and your bed calling you for a nap, it’s so easy to throw an iPad at the kid and skip practice altogether (I’m guilty of allowing this to happen when I’m drowning in work and drained), but the satisfaction I get when one of my kids says, “Thank you for watching me today,” is worth a billion naps. Single parent? Stuck at work? No worries; involve family and friends. Having someone close to them watch also makes kids feel important and empowered.
6. BE HONEST
Kids have a lie detector. Be honest with them about how they’ve performed. If they ask you how you think they did at practice or after a game, flip it around first, and ask them the same question. They’ll usually have your same answer. There’s nothing wrong with a little constructive criticism. I’ll never forget the day Minnie, my daughter, fell on a leap in a competition. After she was done, I told her how excellent she was. She looked at me as if I was crazy and said, “Mommy, I wasn’t focused and I fell. I did better last time.” Be honest about their performance, and they will be honest with you.
7. SHOW APPRECIATION
“Watching you was the best part of my day.” Once you change the way you think, everything falls into place. Instead of thinking, “Ugh, I need to take them to practice,” think, “I’m so lucky I get to take this little human to practice and watch him/her.” They love hearing it, too.
8. FUN COUNTS
Never ask how they did; ask them if they had fun doing it. My 6-year-old is on a gymnastics team. They have practice 5 times a week for 3 hours or more per session. To me, this is burn-out waiting to happen. So, we skip a day, and whenever I sense that she is tired physically or emotionally, I also let her skip training. Injuries happen when kids are tired, and when there is not enough downtime to recover. Again, you know your kid, so don’t let anyone, not even a coach, force you into something that you know is not good for them.
9. BRIBERY PAYS OFF
Guilty, guilty, guilty. As an amateur parent, it used to be chocolate or candy, but I soon realized that the cavities weren’t worth it. I now bribe my kids with new workout gear or allow them to make slime for the millionth time this month.Guilty, guilty, guilty. As an amateur parent, it used to be chocolate or candy, but I soon realized that the cavities weren’t worth it. I now bribe my kids with new workout gear or allow them to make slime for the millionth time this month.
10. SIDELINE PARENTING
Picture your kid in a school play. Would you stand up and tell them how to act? Nope, you’d cheer them on at the right time. I like to apply this when I watch my kids partake in sports. Being a parent and a coach myself, I find it super difficult to keep my mouth shut, but I do try my best and it turns out to be even more fun.
I guess, to sum everything up, only you know your kid. I can’t listen to a situation and blurt out words of wisdom about a kid that you know best. Ultimately, your little human will imitate you. Use that. Parenting isn’t easy, each parent has a story, and so does every kid.
With love, from the very normal, imperfect mom of two fabulous little humans, Amina Naguib.