Parenting Tip of the Week – Kids and Physical Activity

Go outside and get moving!  Studies show that children who are physically active have greater self-confidence, do better in school and are able to more easily face challenges.

The Importance of Play

Playing with your child is more than just fun. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is an essential part of child development. Why? Because play contributes to healthy child development, including the cognitive, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. As the CDC says, children who are physically active “tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (e.g., memory), and classroom behaviors.”

In a previous parenting tip, we talked about using play to help track developmental milestones. Today’s parenting tip is about the benefits of being physically active with your children and some tips on finding the time to getting outside with your children.

How much time should be spent on physical activity?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children between the ages of 6 and 17 get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. While an hour may not be much to your growing child, for a busy parent it can be tough to find ways to carve an hour out for physical activity. In order to make it easier, try the following ideas:

  • Be an example! By leading an active lifestyle yourself, your child will learn good habits from you and will be more likely to be active themselves.
  • Sign your children up for a rec league. From baseball to soccer, most communities have some sort of recreational sports league. Ask your child if they are interested in playing! Sports leagues can be a good way for your child to learn more about social and emotional skills as well.
  • Take your child to the park. Making a special trip (even if the trip isn’t that far!) to a park or playground can make physical activity feel like a reward instead of an everyday thing.
  • Encourage play instead of TV or videogames. Instead of watching screens after dinner, encourage your children to turn off the TV and go outside to play instead. Turn it into a bonding experience by taking the whole family out after dinner for a night-time game of tag of catch.

In need of some ideas for specific activities you can do with your children? Try some of these:

  • Play Wiffle Ball in the backyard
  • Go on a bike ride
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Choreograph a dance to do together
  • Play hop scotch in your driveway or on the sidewalk
  • Invent trick throws with a Frisbee and play catch
  • Run around in the sprinklers
  • Take a walk around the neighborhood

For more information, check out the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

How do you get your kids outside to play? If you have any suggestions, share them with us and other parents! Tweet us your tip at @PCAAmerica or leave a comment on our Facebook page!