How to Help Your Kids Build Good Habits

Children look forward to summer holidays all year round. For some kids, this could be the bait they hope will get unlimited screen time. In many households, summer may not be an outdoor pool for everyone, but it certainly frees children from the pressures of the end of the school year and gives them time to relax, pursue other interests, and try new activities.

The long and relatively carefree days of summer are the perfect time to help your child develop healthier habits, like eating. B. Regular exercise and control over screen time. Screen time self-monitoring will serve your child well in the future as it teaches balance and self-control. When parents can learn how to help their kids build good habits for exercise, it becomes easier to help them monitor other behaviors and limit their own screen time as well. Regular exercise is not only good for our body, but also has a strong effect on our mental performance. This can greatly improve a child’s academic success. What better way to use the summer vacation?

Forming a habit may seem easy, but it’s not! It takes time, commitment and motivation. The results of a study conducted at University College of London show that it takes an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. Coincidentally, you have almost as much time to get into the exercise habit during your child’s summer vacation.

This notion that exercise is important applies not only to children but to adults too! For adults, exercise not only offers a variety of physical and emotional benefits, it also transforms your brain. Exercise increases production of a brain protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which improves cognitive abilities and helps you manage stress.

Developing an exercise habit over the summer also means getting your kids outside and reducing their screen time. You might even be able to use screen time, not just as a reward for exercising, but as a tool to guide and inspire you. Fitness games are available on virtually every console and device, and there is ample evidence that sports-based video games increase participation in sports. Virtual reality is going mainstream and it’s not hard to get kids and teens excited about VR-based exercises with a few YouTube videos.

If you plan to make exercise a regular habit for your kids, you should be aware of the benefits of exercise. You need to be able to explain the cognitive and emotional benefits of regular exercise to help your children understand the value of an exercise habit to their brains and bodies. The research is compelling: children who regularly exercise vigorously attend school better, do better in school, and remember better than their less active peers.

Here are five tips to help your kids build good exercise habits:

Once you start a regular exercise routine, you should make your kids aware that they are improving their fitness and focus.

1. Be consistent but flexible.

In order to make exercise a habit, you need to set a minimum number of days per week (five days per week should be enough, although daily is ideal for strengthening the habit). Talk to your kids about exercise every day to keep them front and center. Try to have a daily time and routine for exercising, but be flexible about how you form a habit. If a play date with friends is spent running around outside or swimming in a pool, count it as daily practice. If you or your child are drawn to a particular type of exercise, make a conscious effort to mix them up.

2. Make sure the workout is accessible.

Even if you live in a warmer climate, going for a swim in your backyard pool every day is probably not practical or possible. If you’re not willing to take your child to a pool five times a week during the colder months, you need to make sure the child has access to and is comfortable with another form of exercise. Be prepared to hit a local gym, brave the cold weather for a winter walk with the kid, or find a way to make indoor exercise fun. Fitness video games can make working out in the living room easy and fun. You can even try pairing an exercise bike with Screen Time, e.g. B. watching a show on Netflix or listening to audio books or podcasts.

3. Find an activity your child enjoys doing.

Your child doesn’t have to love it, but it has to bring him or her satisfaction. Add music or other screen-based entertainment if needed to make it engaging.

Alternating between exercises like walking, running and hiking can excite them. Introducing new physical activities has the added benefit of getting your child to try something that the child doesn’t even know excels at. Finding something new that the child is good at, even if it is difficult, can create a sense of satisfaction that keeps the child coming back for more.

4. Cross training is just as good for you as it is for your kids.

Alternating between different physical activities works different muscles and engages different parts of the brain. Dancing, team sports, cycling, and running all require different combinations of executive functions. Encouraging your child to cross-train can mean signing the child up for seasonal sports (anything from soccer to basketball to baseball or softball) or setting up a family adventure day each week that includes different types of active play and exercise.

Prophetsee Journals/Unsplash

Source: Prophetsee Journals/Unsplash

5. Stay local.

Anything you can do close to home and leverage your local resources is just more practical and repeatable. The nearby gym can be used, although it doesn’t offer as many options as those in the next town. If you live near a bike path or park, make it a destination for walks and bike rides. If you live in the city, try to get places on foot instead of driving.

If you’re taking the time to make exercising a habit this summer, it’s important to find a way to continue that habit during the school year as well. You may need to adjust your homework requirements so that exercises that are likely to help your child stay focused and complete homework more efficiently come before you sit down with textbooks or screen time. Consider altering your dinner schedule so that the family moves before dinner.

When you’re short on time, shorter interval training has been shown to have major benefits for both physical and mental health. You will see the difference, not only in your child’s performance at school, but also in their attitude and focus at home.

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