How to Prevent Your Child from Becoming a Couch Potato During COVID


kids playing outside

Quarantine and exercise do not go particularly well together. Depending on where you live, you may not have the luxury of taking long walks or playing in the back yard. But whatever your isolation situation looks like, you can use these tips to help your kids stay healthy and at least a little active.

1) Clear a Space for Play
Does your house have room for a kid to run in circles? Exercise can’t happen if there isn’t somewhere to do it. Clear an open space in the living room, playroom, or kitchen, and keep it open for the duration of your local quarantine. Put fragile objects away, and use a critical eye to look for sharp corners. Your kids can use this space to dance, do pushups and jumping jacks, or simply pace back and forth while they text their friends.

2) Find Exercise Videos
The internet is full of fun exercise and movement videos for kids of all ages. Try looking for yoga, tai chi, dancing, or even simple aerobics programs that your kids can follow along with. Try a different video every day until you settle on something your family loves.

You don’t have to limit your search to programs meant for children, but remember that kids don’t have the same attention spans as adults. Good children’s exercise videos are short, engaging, realistic, and fun.

3) Model Breaks and Stretching
Quarantine naturally favors sedentary activities. Your kids are inevitably going to spend more time on the computer, read more books, and work on small projects that don’t require leaving the house.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these activities, but there is something wrong with sitting in the same chair for hours on end. Encourage your kids to get up, stretch, and drink a cup of water at least once every hour. After they’ve improved their circulation, they can return to their book and finish that chapter.

Remember, kids like to copy their parents. Take your own breaks on an hourly basis, and make a big show of moving and stretching. You’ll feel significantly better, and your toddler will immediately start doing the same thing.

4) Reward and Encourage Active Behavior
Kids naturally want to move and play. They want to throw a ball for the dog, dance to their favorite music, and run as fast as their legs will let them.

However, kids can also be sensitive to their parents’ needs. If you’re working from home, your child will probably start keeping to themself. If you get irritated by loud noises, they’ll refrain from starting a dance party or throwing a ball against the closet door.

This means that if you want your kids to be more active, you need to create an environment where that activity is welcome. When your work-from-home day is over, try putting on upbeat music and inviting your kids to play a game of hide-and-seek. Turn on the lights, open the windows, and show approval when your children start to play.

Quarantine isn’t going to last forever. Take this time to show your kids how movement and activity can be a part of their daily lives – even when everyone is stuck indoors.

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