July 13th, 2022
How to motivate kids to do sports and reduce physical inactivity?
An agile and active child is a healthy child, but how to motivate them to go outside instead of sitting indoors? And even more so – how to keep a child away from mobile phone, computer or TV and engage them in activities that bring joy? These questions tend to preoccupy many parents, and Lauma Grīva is ready to share some answers – she is an athlete, coach and ambassador of BeActive Beach Games, and almost everyone in her family is engaged in sports. “We can say that sport runs in our family genes. My parents played sports and always took me with them to trainings or competitions, so most of my life I’ve been in motion, perhaps more so than others,” she admits. Lauma Grīva and her family will also take part in the European Family Cup that will be held in Ventspils on July 23. Until July 20, any family can apply for participation in the games at https://pludmalesspeles.lsfp.lv/
Start from an early age
Lauma’s advice is to develop a child’s interest in sports from an early age, but not necessarily forcing them to do sports: “There are different ways to make sports interesting. Just take your child with you to competitions so that he or she can watch his or her parents or siblings play sports, or watch some competitions together. Then sports and the sporting environment become commonplace, gradually allowing the child to get used to loud ovations and emotions as well.” Sports events are becoming more and more suitable for children – you can come with a stroller, there are special headphones for noise reduction for children, etc. In addition, such events often provide entertainment for the little ones – slides and attractions that form a connection with sports and joyful emotions.
It is also logically connected with the recommendation to turn physical activity for children into an interesting game, a fun pastime, perhaps, even creating a storyline. We can certainly recall our own childhood when we learned how to turn somersaults or ride roller skates, kick the ball into the goal – satisfaction, joy and self-confidence were boundless. In the same way, set some achievable goal or task for your children, for example, get to the farthest tree on roller skates, find five identical objects during a walk, ride bicycles to the farthest shop or swimming spot, climb the stairs once a day if the apartment is on one of the upper floors. Children are happy to succeed, therefore, if the goal is achieved, it is necessary to praise, recognize their efforts and diligence. It will also motivate them to strive further, to perform a specific task or exercise even better, to achieve more.
Lead by example and involve
It is equally important that parents themselves set an example and spend their free time in motion – both in sports and in everyday activities (whenever possible, drive less, use stairs, go for an evening walk even after a long day at work and spend your holidays physically active). Seeing that other family members are active and do sports, the child will take it for granted and will also want to get involved.
This is particularly relevant for families with children of different ages. The little ones will look at what is happening as a game, but older kids, teenagers most often engage reluctantly, with a reproachful look on their faces that their parents make them do completely stupid and boring things. Lauma suggests: “It is important not to give up. They may not like it once or twice, but gradually teenagers also find something appealing to themselves. Even better, if you can take their friends with you, because children need company. It is important to be together and do something together, creating a common tradition.” She adds: “And be sure to praise for the effort, for accomplishment. This is the biggest motivation when parents notice, believe, appreciate and support. In adolescence, it helps a lot to boost self-confidence, faith in one’s own abilities and strengthens the emotional bond with parents.”
Listen to the needs and desires
No matter how much parents want their child to be athletic, anticipate his or her achievements and, perhaps, a career as a professional athlete, it is essential to talk to the child to find out whether he or she wants it. This conversation may reveal why they don’t like to move or don’t want to engage in any physical activity, or on the contrary – which sports seem more thrilling, where they want to try their hand. “Choose activities appropriate to your child’s age and abilities – if they can’t deliver at the very start, they will lose confidence and interest. Gaming elements are always worth keeping in mind as a method of achieving results – step by step, from easier to more complex activities, with pleasure. I believe that sports for kids under the age of 14-15 should bring joy, the child should be interested,” the athlete Lauma Grīva explains.
It is no less essential to dose the duration of movements. No one knows our children better than we do. Therefore, it is important to notice when the child is tired and let them just do nothing. Watch your child and motivate to physical activity only when they have reserves of strength.
Just as adults get into a routine of repeating the same actions, children also experience the same, and even faster. It is perfectly normal to allow yourself to be passionate about several things at a time, try what works better, what is more interesting. Lauma Grīva notes, “Our son is now six years old, and he is already interested in trying everything, for which my husband and I are only happy and supportive. At the end of July, our whole family will go to Ventspils for the BeActive European Family Cup, where adults and children of all ages will be able to try about 30 different sports – this is a great way to arouse interest in sports.”
Provide kids with colourful and varied gear, moreover, choose it together – protective shields and other equipment, sports balls or rackets, even sportswear. They can and should be allowed to try it all out outside of training or sports field – feel the handlebars or frame of the bicycle, turn the pedals, put on roller skates at home, take a tennis racket to bed or wear their favourite sports shirt when going on a visit.
Lauma Grīva and her husband train kids and adults, developing general physical fitness, popularizing and promoting a healthy lifestyle, as well as remind that training correct movements is one of the main tasks at any age and it is recommended to start it as early as possible. In turn, the BeActive Family Cup is aimed at promoting beach sports and active lifestyle in families and individually. This competition will be part of the BeActive Beach Games program on the weekend July 23-24, where everyone will be able find a suitable activity, regardless of physical fitness and skills.