By Sam Tyrer, Head of Change Talks

As a parent of two young children (three and one), I am often amazed at their never ending amount of energy. I am also certain that we all, as parents or carers have thought to ourselves “I wish they would sit down for a minute”. Especially after a busy work day, you just want a little moment to sit down and have a cup of tea. Now, I can’t talk from direct experience here as a parent but I can talk from experience of being a teenager (a grumpy one at that).

As your children get older, exposed to more things such as gaming and social media, they want to spend more time on these platforms rather than going on a family walk or any other activities you want to do. I am not saying this is for everyone, but technology as we now see it, is ever present in all of our lives.

It's a familiar scenario for many parents - the struggle to tear your kids away from screens and get them active. As they grow older and become more immersed in the digital world, finding ways to keep them physically active can become even more challenging. But fear not, there are strategies you can employ to encourage your children to be more active and embrace a healthy lifestyle.

First and foremost, lead by example. Children often mimic the behaviour of their parents, so if they see you prioritising physical activity and enjoying it, they are more likely to follow suit. When we talk to children in schools about why they spend so much time on technology, they often respond “because my parents do”. Make exercise a family affair by planning fun outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or playing sports together. Not only will this encourage your children to be more active, but it also provides quality bonding time for the whole family.

Additionally, make physical activity a part of your daily routine. Incorporate short bursts of activity throughout the day, whether it's dancing to their favourite songs, playing active games indoors, or taking regular breaks for a quick stretch or walk. By making physical activity a natural and enjoyable part of their daily lives, you can instil healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

It's also important to provide a variety of options for physical activity to keep things interesting and engaging for your children. Encourage them to explore different sports, activities, and hobbies until they find something they truly enjoy. Whether it's swimming, martial arts, dancing, or even just playing tag with friends, finding activities that they love will make them more likely to stick with them.

Finally, limit screen time and set boundaries around device use. While technology can be a valuable tool, excessive screen time can contribute to a sedentary lifestyle and detract from opportunities for physical activity. Establish clear rules and expectations around screen time, and encourage alternative activities that promote movement and exercise.

Remember, every little bit of physical activity counts, so don't feel discouraged if your children aren't immediately on board with the idea. Be patient, persistent, and supportive, and gradually they will become more active and develop a lifelong appreciation for health and fitness.