The statistics are alarming more U.S. children than ever are overweight and obese, putting them at risk for a host of illnesses including diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. The National Association of Sports and Physical Education recommends kids get at least one hour of physical activity every day to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. But how can fathers help their kids get off the couch?
A recent Men’s Health article, reported by MSNBC.com, offered several tips on helping your kid get more fit. It’s part of the magazine’s FitSchools campaign to fight childhood obesity.
"Making sure your kids enjoy being active is the key to keeping them healthy for life," said FitSchools adviser Jim Liston.
He says fathers shouldn’t compare their kids to others when it comes to sports skills, even if they’re the same age. Children develop coordination skills differently and it’s important for dads to realize this.
An important parenting advice tip Liston offers is to not reward your kids with food. Although an occasional treat is acceptable, this practice can teach kids to eat when they’re not hungry. A better option is to reward them with something else, like extra playtime.
Knowing when and how to praise your kids can make them want to try harder instead of giving up. Mix instruction with encouragement and teach by showing, not telling. Fathers may not realize that their kids may not understand what they mean when they say, "keep your eye on the ball," for instance.
Most importantly, have fun! Liston reminds dads to avoid too many rules because it can make their kids want to avoid playing with them. Don’t be bothered if your child wants to stop playing a game of soccer to chase a butterfly. "As long as young kids are running, jumping, and having fun, they’re improving their health and athletic ability," he said.