As your children grow, they may or may not gravitate towards athletics. Some children love sports and will excel at them, and you just may find yourself raising the next Yao Ming or Fandi.
Yet there are other children who may lose interest in sports, or dislike physical activity altogether. As a parent, you can help ensure your child’s physical wellbeing by being a part of their daily exercise, and by finding ways to intermingle fun with fitness for your entire family.
Keep it Simple
Exercising with children
Start physical activity with your children while they are still young, and offer them a variety of activities. They will naturally be drawn toward those they like best, and from there you can nurture their natural athletic prowess.
Take your child to a flat, open field with just a soccer ball, or field hockey stick and ball, and let them learn to kick or dribble. As they progress in their abilities, add a goal that they can use for scoring practice, even if that goal is made up of two simple cones or a pair of shoes. You can set up rows of cones and let multiple children race each other as they dribble and weave between them.
Serve it Up
The worldwide badminton scene has come a long way in the past century. The International Badminton Foundation was founded in 1934, and now offers tournaments even for juniors. Likewise, it’s a great team and family sport that makes for a fast-paced and entertaining time.
When teaching badminton to your kids, let them have fun while they are learning to play. Discipline and skill development can come later, if they want to continue with the sport more seriously. Kids tend to love badminton because of its quick speed and light, easy to hold racket. Split your family into teams and play noncompetitive matches, do windmills, or toss the shuttle to your children from the opposite side of the net to give them practice. Challenge your neighbours to games or even a friendly tournament. Badminton is not only a great workout for you and your children, but it will develop coordination and power, encourage endurance, and teach them how to create strategy.
Make a Splash
Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular activity for the entire family to enjoy together and remains a popular pastime. Your neighbourhood most likely has multiple swimming complexes, some of which may even be indoor; inquire at your community centre or GRC if you have difficulty locating one.
The age of your children will naturally dictate the type of swimming activities your family can do together, but water games help kids lose their fear of water while emphasizing swimming as a fun activity. Younger children are still developing their lungs, breathing, and coordination, so pool activities should be kept simpler and easier. Many facilities offer classes for children and even babies that you attend with them, helping them learn to swim while strengthening the parent-child bond. Older kids might enjoy a swim team, or simply playing games in a pool. Playing games alongside your children like “keep-away” and relays with a plastic ball or other pool toy ensures that they are not only active, but that you are there to keep an eye on their safety.
Lift their Sails
For an easy, low-impact activity that will still get their adrenaline pumping, take your children kite-flying.
Flying kites may not seem like much of a physical activity, but children are almost always elated and filled with wonder at the sight of a brightly colored sail dipping and flapping in the wind. They can serve as the anchor and run with the kite, experiencing the difference in wind pressure depending on how they hold it. Encourage amicable races with other kites, or bring your own kite along and get in on the fun. You can puchase kites from D Kite Shop at Marina Mall or from the Singapore Kite Association itself.
Stay on the Run… Constantly!
Incorporate physical activity into as many facets of your daily lives as possible. Children will perceive this to be normal over time, setting them up for a future of positive fitness habits. Play active and silly games with your young children, pretending to be monsters and chasing them, or imitating animals, and encourage them to do the same.
Structure your family vacations around physical outings that will energize your kids. Go camping, hiking, or walking, depending on your vacation venue, or just take along some simple toys like a Frisbee or a ball to toss during down time.
Participation in sports creates self-confidence in children and teaches them how to get along with others, not to mention the health benefits of physical activity. Time spent playing sports and exercising together strengthens the bond between you and your child and is very important during their developing years. These years are the time they look to you for guidance and nurturing, and assuredly watch every move that you make. Whether you take them for a walk to look for animals, coach their sports team, or spend an afternoon splashing in the pool, you can help instill a lifetime of physical activity and health for your children.