How to give your child an active start in life

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Bringing up your child in an active, productive home is a great way to ensure his life will be full of health and happiness. Not allowing a sedentary existence will create a healthy child with energy and motivation.

The percentage of children in today's society that are classified as obese is increasing at a staggering rate. Children sometimes seem to prefer sitting in front of cartoons or video games rather than playing outside, using their bodies and expending energy. Advertisements on the television almost encourage this behaviour.

Because today's youth are so filled with energy meant to be used in outdoor play, their behaviour suffers when they become rowdy in the home, fighting with peers and siblings and not listening to directions. If children are given the chance to lead an active lifestyle, they are benefiting their bodies and their future.

Tips for making children active

- Discourage bad habits - Parents should also discourage unhealthy eating and drinking habits. Water is the best source of hydration for the human body and kids should see their parents drink plenty of it. Sugary drinks will give children an energy boost first but quickly send them crashing down, unable to muster any energy. If a child is used to drinking water it will not be difficult to convince them to drink even more. They will stay hydrated and avoid dehydration. Juices and cordials should be a rare treat.

- Healthy breakfast - Mums and dads should start every day with a healthy breakfast. This habit should be practised by the entire family. Ensuring the children get their fill of wholesome fibre through cereals and breads will guarantee high energy levels. Sugary cereals should be avoided as they are poor for the child's diet and offer very little nutritional value. Snacks throughout the day should consist of protein like beans and lentils and occasional fruits. Suppers also need to have protein like lean chicken or fish. Accompany supper with a glass of skim or low fat milk to see that kids are getting the benefits of dairy consumption.

- Lead by example - Many parents sit idly in front of the television or computer wasting away hours instead of getting outside. Kids see this behaviour and think it to be normal and expected. When parents want to get outside and play with their children, the kids are more likely to want to spend time outside running, riding and letting their energy out. Because children often learn by example, parents need to show self-esteem and confidence to their kids. Staying physically active will provide parents with energy and an ideal body weight. Since good weather isn't always a guarantee, stock the playroom with building toys so that the child is still eager to learn and be active.

- Rest time - To stay healthy and rested, kids do need a bit of down time. Restricting television and the occasional video game isn't necessary but limiting the time played per day is ideal. Set aside an hour each day that the child may pick a form of entertainment whether it be watching a movie or playing a game online. This break in the day also gives parents the opportunity to sit and rest for a while.

Encouraging children to get outside and be active is doing a great favour to the child's future. Parents should eat, drink and play the way they want their children to and this will set a wonderful precedent for the growing years as well as adulthood. Planning family bike riding events is free and ideal for a weekend.

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