Not all kids or children enjoy sports. Many children spend a huge part of their day sitting down in school, sitting watching TV, sitting down using computers or mobile devices or, slightly better, sitting and reading. This isn't great for their activity levels, fitness and health. Doing a sport is not the only way to help a child get active and fit. Good diet and sufficient sleep are vital, add activity to the mix and your child will be fit and healthy. Read on from step one for some ideas about getting a kid who doesn't like sport to be active.
Ask the child if they want to do any sport. Also find out whether they are afraid to try. Ask your child if they don't want to take part in team sports for fear of being bullied and being 'picked last'. Reasons that may discourage a child from participating include a fear of looking unattractive; body consciousness if overweight, gangly or very skinny; dislike of the temperatures outside; and a complete dislike of or disinterest in sporting activities or competitive activity. These reasons are very real for the child and are not about laziness or wimping out. Learning to accept that your child has these feelings towards sports is an important part of finding a pathway to keeping fit that will actually work for the child.
Seize any opportunity to involve the child in sport. If your child shows an interest in a sport, no matter how left field it may appear to you, take that as an opportunity to get the child active. For example, if the inactive child displays an interest in archery, trampolining, golf, rollerskating, canoeing, dry slope or snow skiing, these are all great possibilities for keeping active but may not be considered the "standard" sport a school offers.
Ask the child whether they like to play classic childhood games like 'Tag' or 'Capture the Flag'. These games can get the child out of the house, running around. Even though this isn't a sport, this activity is just as good as a child playing sports. If the child doesn't want to go outside and play tag, there are video game consoles that promote fitness (Wii, Xbox Kinect, etc.). Some of these are very active and can get the child moving around a lot without even realizing it's exercise.
Try organized activities. Foundations like 'Play 60', which is a youth organized program, that get a group of kids together to do agility drills or obstacle courses with kids just like them, could be an option.
Let your child regularly ride a bike or scooter around your block. Hula hoops and skipping ropes might be old fashioned, but they work because children enjoy them and can do them on the spot. Teach your child to skip or use a hula hoop. Get the whole family involved, who can skip rope the most times in one minute, who can keep the hoop spinning longest? Good, active, family fun.
Play silly games, indoors or out, that get your child dashing about. Time how long it takes your child to find eight blue items bigger than a cracker in your home and garden. See how long it takes for you child to go to their room, undress and put on as many clothes of their favourite color as possible and report back to you. Throw in some added impetus. If your children can compete with each other, even better! If not, encourage your kid to improve their time. Stand-up-sit-down-turn-around and clap! Just do it. It doesn't matter if you feel silly––you'll have a healthier child.
Explore dance. If your child is keen to do so, dance lessons are a great way to be active for boys and girls. Jumping around to music at home is great too. Play them the tunes from your youth and show them how you danced, get gran and grandad in on it too. Family activities can be inclusive of everyone and a learning experience too. Imagine gran showing the children the waltz and then being shown how to Cha-Cha-Slide!
Try, on a regular basis, paying, or rewarding in some other way, your child to do active household chores. Mowing the lawn, making the beds, putting out the washing on the line, vacuuming all the floors are all great activities.
If possible, get your child walking to school. If your child walks for 30 minutes to school every week day, that's fantastic. You can let them get a ride home if it's not safe for them to walk after dark.
Walk as a family at least three times a week. Go to visit friends or to the shops on foot if possible. Take a walk around the neighbourhood, take the dog! Go to the park, your nearest reserve or anywhere else that is good for a stroll.
Get your child gardening if possible. This is something they can do all year round if you plan well. Digging, weeding and just playing in the dirt all get children outdoors and active. Encourage growing vegetables, herbs or fruit for the family dinner table, or flowers.
Go on active family outings as frequently as possible. Fruit picking, geocaching, sightseeing, bird watching, even walking around museums. All of these activities are better than sitting on the couch. Younger children may enjoy play parks and ball-pits, older kids might enjoy an adventure playground.
Get out to a wood or forest or wood frequently. Climb trees, build dens, play hide and seek, hunt for bugs, or fairies, doesn't matter. Engage your child's imagination as well as their body. Visiting green spaces is especially important if you live in a highly urbanized area where nature is in short supply; use the walk as both exercise and a way of teaching your child about animals and plants. Many children will be so fascinated by discovering nature that they'll be keen to do more walks to keep learning about what the animals are doing and discovering new plants.