6 Methods to Motivate your Kids in Healthy Ways

To some kids these days, being social means using social media, and being active means playing sports video games. However, while there’s no harm letting your kids have a little chill out time with a gaming system (as long as the game isn’t too violent), there are ways you can help them take control of their health.

Physical and mental development are important to the future success of your child. However getting them motivated to go outside or meet new friends can be a challenge for any parent. Hint: the reward should be the accomplishment itself, not a “bribe”. Here are six ways you can help your kids tackle new challenges…


1. Don’t Confuse your Ambitions with Theirs

You may have some ideas for what you’d like your child to pursue, whether it’s a dance class or joining a hockey school. However, while you may have loved those activities as a child, it doesn’t mean your offspring will.

Empowering Parents notes that you should really separate your own desires to help you motivate your child to get up and go. Ask them questions about what they like to do, and if they don’t know, help them by asking them prompting questions. Listen to what they are telling you, not what you want to hear.


2. Show them the Positives of Being Active

Your child may have the misconception that exercising is only hard, and that there are no rewards – perhaps how they feel about eating Brussels sprouts. However, if you show them how getting outside can boost their mood, they may follow suit.

WebMD suggests playing tennis or going bike-riding together. Not only will you enjoy the companionship, you can watch them light up when they get more active. Ask them how the activity is making them feel, and adjust the activity accordingly if it’s too much.

Family Vacation

3. Use Value Induction

Psychology Today explains that this involves you as a parent explaining to your child why you think certain behavior is positive–or not desirable. For example, you can try to rationalize to them why sitting on the couch watching television is not something you value.

The online source explains that your children listen to you, and (amazingly) even want to be like you. Instead of asserting power over them, or ignoring them when they mess up, instilling your values is a sustainable method that stays with a child in the long-term (it helps if you practice the values you preach).

Play Video Games

4. Apply Positive Reinforcement

This is a long-used technique that doesn’t require you to turn to punishment. The basic premise of it is that the child gets accustomed to a positive outcome for taking on a task, and the outcome doesn’t have to be a gift you shell out money for.

This could just be telling your child how great they’re doing, giving them a hug, complimenting them to others–generally helping them feel good for their accomplishments. This can help motivate your kids to do more, while at the same time boosting their self-esteem.

Child School

5. Make it Look Easier

Perhaps your child is struggling with confidence, and they haven’t left the couch because they don’t think they can take on a task successfully. Instead of nagging, lead by example–put on their skates for them and teach them to glide, grab a sketchbook and show them how fun and easy it is to create simple art.

As WebMD points out, you’re their biggest role model, even if it seems they’re more interested in the newest pop star. If they see you easily navigating a task, they’re much more likely to try it, noted the online health source.

Child Thinking

6. Help them Envision the Outcome

Advice from PsychCentral suggests helping your child adapt to the unpredictability of life, but it can also be applied to a motivational context. It helps your child navigate ups and downs by envisioning a positive outcome; this can help them reach the other side without being stalled by fear.

This technique can be used often, so your child starts to adapt this thinking as part of their mantra. As an example, think of taking them to a sporting event and telling them if give it a try, they could have the thrill of scoring the winning goal or touchdown someday. If they seem genuinely disinterested, work on finding out what their dreams really are.

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Jeff Hayward

Jeff Hayward

Jeff has more than 15 years of experience writing professionally about health, travel and the arts among other subjects. He continuously looks to improve his own overall health through exercise, diet and mindfulness. He is also a proud stay-at-home dad that loves taking photographs both professionally and as a hobby.