Couch Kid: 6 Easy Ways to Motivate an Inactive Child

Has your child, who is sitting on the couch in the next room, ever used his cell phone to text you to bring him a snack?

Hopefully, you can answer this with a laugh and a simple no. Unfortunately, for our family, this is a reality we stared in the face a few weeks ago. It was a normal day, we had just returned home from school and our boys immediately found their designated spots on the couch and resumed their gaming. Within minutes, I received the infamous text asking for their snack. Unfortunately, the issue of couch potato children isn’t an isolated problem we are noticing in only our household.

In fact, as a nation we are noticing a rise in child obesity and inactivity. To put this into perspective, it is believed that only one out of three children are engaging in some form of physical activity on a daily basis. If this path should continue, experts warn that by 2030 half of all American adults will be obese. While these are hard numbers to digest, we need to look at the fact that today’s average kid spends over seven hours everyday parked in front of a screen of some kind.

6 Surefire Tips For Getting Children Off The Couch

Whether it is a computer, Smartphone, or television, our sons and daughters are spending more and more time seated on the couch looking at their devices. This can present many problems for parents, but a major one is our children’s health and well-being. We obviously know that exercise or active play is good for a developing body’s muscles, bones, and coordination. However, getting our children pried away from their favorite technology can be difficult.

Undoubtedly, we probably will hear whining, pouting, crying, and an occasional slamming door when we bring up the subject of powering down to get up and moving.

Listed below are 6 ways to motivate our most obstinate inactive children:

1. Bridge technology with physical activity. Appeal to a child’s love of gaming by trying to hunt for Pokemon in your neighborhood or tapping into their inner adventurist by giving geocaching a try. If a child is competitive, try using a fitness tracker to count steps and make it a competition.

2. Let children “earn” their couch time. If a child completes certain chores, walks the dog, or shoots hoops for an allotted amount of time, allow them to be paid in screen time. For example, if a child walks the dog for one hour, he can earn 15 minutes of television or gaming. Adjust the reward to fit your schedule and family values.

3. Get hooping. If a kid balks at the idea of traditional exercises like running, little leagues, or push-ups, seek out activities that are exciting and engaging. Embrace fun and introduce the entire family to hula hooping. Hula hooping is different and will offer countless opportunities for children to develop new skills without knowing that they are actually exercising. Teach them the traditional hip movements, but expand to use their necks, arms, and legs. For added fun, encourage children to roll the hoops across the floor and put their arm inside or their foot in while the hoops are rolling. The possibilities are endless and will help restless children burn off a little “cabin fever”.

4. Look for community programs to try. Sign up children or the family for a sports league, buy a season pass to the local swimming pool, or register for an activity program (hiking, bird watching, kayaking, sledding, snowshoeing, etc.) at the nearest nature recreational park. Many cities and towns are now offering a variety free or low cost opportunities for children and their families to promote physical activity. Plus, these opportunities offer a social aspect for children and might peak their interest in a future hobby or career.

5. Get crafty. Arts and crafts offer our kids the perfect opportunities to get off the couch. Tap into the frozen winter wonderland for inspiration and the kids won’t even miss sitting on the couch. Try adding food coloring or Koolaid packets to water in spray bottles and let kids graffiti the snow for a fun winter afternoon activity. You can also fill balloons with colored water and freeze them outside. When the orbs are frozen, remove the outer shell to expose colorful balls or frozen marbles to decorate the yard.

6. Play. It sounds simple, but encourage children to play. Think back to your favorite youthful pastimes and introduce them to your sons or daughters. Teach them how to fly a kite, construct the perfect snow fort, go ice fishing, try ice skating, build the perfect snowman, or assemble an amazing fort inside. Channel your inner child and join in on the fun to seek precious opportunities for bonding with your kids.

Looking Forward

Motivating inactive children can be daunting, but with a little effort and enthusiasm we can get our children up and moving. After all, we want the best for our kids and know in the long run that increasing physical activity can drastically cut their odds of developing a variety of health conditions. If we make one or two adjustments to our child’s habits today, we can improve their outlook for tomorrow.

What techniques do you have for motivating children?

About the Author

Tara Heath is a 37 year old health professional and works as a freelancer writer in the evenings. Her writing focuses mainly on health, such as skincare and how to live a healthy lifestyle overall. She lives in Burbank, Ca. with her husband and two beautiful daughters ages eight and twelve.


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