Look for sports clubs and events your children can join in – There are many clubs that cater to all ages and all sports. If you think your child is a budding footballer, gymnast, ballerina or rugby player, etc, search on-line, check Abu Dhabi World or Yalla magazine or ask at reception for some places that you can enroll.
Make an indoor obstacle course – If it is too hot outside, you can always plan an indoor event. Find the biggest and safest room in your house and make an obstacle course up using whatever items you have available. For example large boxes to crawl through, cushions to jump onto, a broom supported on a two chairs to climb under, balled up socks to throw into the laundry bin, a rope on the floor to ‘balance’ on, etc .
Keep it fun – Exercise should always be an enjoyable experience and, especially for the younger ones, if you push too much at the start, they may lose interest and not want to do it anymore. Let the child choose the activity and ask about sample classes before enrolling for a whole term. Use positive terms for all activities. Competition is good, but it should not be about always winning or coming first. Let your child know they have your support and you are proud of the effort that they put in. Use phrases like ‘Well done, I love your energy today!’ or ‘You tried so hard, I’m so proud of you’. Celebrate the successes but also be positive for the losses. Talk about how great they were or how much they have improved, and they will keep trying. If you only tell them what they can’t do they will lose self-esteem and confidence.
Do be realistic – When starting a new exercise or sport, do not expect great miracles or change at the start. Set small goals and work beyond them. If your child is not very fit, it may take a while until they can go through a whole session before they get tired. Give them time to improve and, most important, keep encouraging.
Limit the time with technology – Try to give limits to the amount of time spent on iPads or other electronic items. Do not use it as a babysitter or a distraction during meals. This time should be concentrated on the food and being social with the family. Also, eating while playing can lead to excessive snacking and promote obesity and cardio-vascular problems. Make sure that games or activities on the iPad are educational and not platform games (like subway surfer or Mario) – these can lead to eye problems, especially before the ages of 10.
Pick positive rewards – Plan a family trip to the beach or the park if they did a good job at school rather than a lollipop or a candy bar. This will help them to associate happiness and enjoyment with exercise and getting healthy.
On-line exercise – there are some fun groups on Youtube that do great exercise routines for children that are enjoyable and keep them moving. Following are some of the ones that we use in Sesame Street Private Nursery: