The activity level of today’s child is less than it was twenty years ago. But, according to the Canadian Pediatric Society Public Education Advisory Committee, parents should be asking why?
According to experts, children are simply not getting enough exercise. And, some parents may be to blame. Here are common mistakes parents make and how they affect their child’s activity level. Should you be concerned?
Not enough free play
Parents believe in organized sports but are less likely to allow their children free play. According to pediatricians, organized sports are wonderful but practicing twice a week is not enough physical activity for children. Parents believe that unless the activity is organized the children are not getting enough exercise. This is simply not the case. Free play lasts for prolonged periods of time, while organized sports activities may last just an hour, twice a week. Doctors recommend that children get a minimum of one hour of physical activity each day. Free play is the best way to ensure your child maintains their activity level. Free play consists of running in the backyard, jumping on a trampoline, or playing chase.
Screen time approval
Parents should aim for less screen time in the home, but unfortunately most do not. Guidelines vary, but some experts report that watching television or playing video games should be limited to less than an hour each day. Instead of sitting in front of a TV, encourage your child to get outdoors. Even better, is when the parent accompanies the child and plays with them. Modeling the behavior you would like to see does wonders.
Not understanding what physical activity is
There are times when we misunderstand what physical activity is. We don’t think of our usual chores as exercise, but doing the dishes or taking out the garbage, is a lot better than sitting on the couch in front of the TV. Organizing a family chore day is great exercise, and who can complain when you are all doing it together. Spend time outdoors with the kids raking the yard or washing the car. Just an hour each day will promote physical activity and keep the house in tip-top shape.
Thinking you don’t have time
Parents are strapped for time. From work to homework, family’s have less and less time each day. But, sometimes time is not prioritized. Parents may not have the time to supervise their children’s activities two or three hours each day, but they can assign work or play. If you have older kids, get them involved watching the younger kids. You can also join forces with friends, much like carpooling. Organize a roster for parents to supervise playing kids on a rotating schedule. The children will get their exercise and parents will have a little extra time in the day to do what they need to do.