As an adult it’s easy to see the rewards of personal health and fitness because it shows in your energy levels, your body, and just overall how you feel. For kids, though, it can be a bit tougher to see the merit in going out and getting exercise by playing outside rather than spending time in front of a video game console or on the computer. So if you’re having a little bit of trouble getting the rest of your family as excited for getting healthy as you are, consider trying a little bit of the carrot (minus stick) treatment.
When you’re showing your kids that what they’re doing is working towards something good, it’s important to show them the progress they’re making. Try keeping a white board or a chart up where everyone can see it in the living room, dining room, or kitchen so they can see how well they’re doing. Depending on how you want to do it you can reward your family and kids for their actions like trying new, healthy foods or going out and playing outside rather than sitting indoors, or just have a thermometer/progress bar style chart to show them how close they are to the reward. It’s not important how you go about it, just that they can see that their effort is putting them closer to their goal.
Just as important as tracking the journey is having a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow! But what to reward them with for following good health and fitness habits? Well for starters you don’t want to reward them with treats that reinforce unhealthy behaviors. If video games and the internet are the problem you don’t want to reward them with a new game that turns into a fresh distraction. Food is another bad choice because reward foods are usually sweets or other unhealthy choices. Instead try to reward them with an experience that they can look forward to. For example, if everyone reaches their healthy choice goals for the week then plan a trip to the beach or to a nearby fun spot to visit. For bigger milestones, consider planning a camping trip or going somewhere exciting like a theme park. The important part of these rewards is that it gets them as active as the activity it’s taking them to get there!
Last but not least while it’s important to work together as a family towards your goals it’s just as important to reward individual achievements, too. If one child is willing to try some healthy vegetables that your other child is being picky over, give them a fun reward. A little literally healthy competition never hurt anyone and so long as it has the same end result, everyone getting healthy and having fun together!