Exercise is one of those things that our bodies were created to do. Our bodies were made to move and work—not sit for hours upon hours. Unfortunately, in this day and age, we are seeing a significant decrease in activity levels among children, tweens, and teens—even among the littlest of them.
Most adults (except for those struggling with addictions and/or mental health issues) should have what it takes in their brains to perform self-discipline and to do what is good for the health of their bodies. It’s just easier to give in and not practice self-discipline or self-control, but the ability and capability in an adult’s brain is usually there.
Children and adolescents, on the other hand, are not fully capable of being able to resist addictions or temptations, such as video games, drugs, too much tv, sugar, etc. This is due to the fact that their brain is still a work in progress—specifically the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain helps with our decision-making skills and our comparative judgements. Children and adolescents have a hard time weighing risks up against instant gratifications due to their prefrontal cortex not being fully developed. This makes it extremely easy for them to become addicted to certain things. Not only is hard for them to resist temptations but because their prefrontal cortex is still developing, this part of their brain is highly susceptible to change in an unhealthy way during this formative time; therefore, they need our help! They need our guidance!
With this understanding, we need to have compassion on our children and teens when they make mistakes, but most importantly they need an example and a “coach/teacher”. They need someone showing them how and why its important to exercise, to get enough sleep, or to eat healthy meals/snacks. As a parent, it is OKAY to set healthy boundaries and expectations for your child. In the end, it will help them to feel loved and safe.
A healthy boundary might be… “electronics have to stay in living room (or main living spaces)”. A healthy expectation might be… “30 minutes to an hour of exercise/PE is required daily”.
Addictions are promoted when a child/teen is given too much empty, free time. Children need opportunities and encouragement to experience meaningful, healthy activities such as nature scavenger hunts, family walks (without any stress-talk), family capture the flag, or nighttime hide-and-seek. It’s also OKAY not to make activities optional. As long as your child is physically capable, it will be beneficial for them to participate. Just let them know that you care for them & their health!
Helping your child structure their day during this “stay-at-home” order is super important. They are used to being on a schedule or at least knowing what subject/activity comes next. Requiring them to do an elective and PE will help fill their time with something that will stimulate their brain in a different way, which in turn will help them with their schooling and attention. Keep them accountable as well. Their teachers would be their accountability. Let them know you truly care about their education and health in this way!
My kids and I have created and filmed 15 different PE videos for children & teens to use during this time. They provide a full body workout every time! Not only will your kids get in a quick easy workout, they will also be learning about the following: how to perform exercises with correct form, the names of muscles, and sports (basketball, track/field, and soccer) drills and skills. There is also quite a bit of work in the area of agility, speed, balance, and coordination. These videos can be done once a week, twice a week, or three times a week. It’s great to pair these videos with a running schedule. For instance, you could have your child run on Mondays and Wednesdays, do the full body workout videos on Tuesdays and Thursdays, then end with a Fun Friday—dancing, yoga, tennis, hiking, etc. Of course, there are other good options to choose from on YouTube when it comes to your kids getting a good strengthening, full-body workout. Just make sure they are performing those workouts with good form to prevent any injury!
If you’re interested in checking out those videos, you can find them here… https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEIiosIBR6Q2C3QNMmryBGhk5a01pizGl . Also, if you have any questions or need any specific workout ideas for your child, feel free to reach out to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading and blessings to your family! Go be the “teacher/coach” your child needs!