Hey sports parents—think back to when your child was 3 or 4 years old. Sometimes you could hardly get them to sit still for more than a few minutes, right? How many times did you have to tell them to slow down, wait up and stop running so far ahead? Little kids are natural born runners! But as our kids got older and started getting involved in other activities like baseball, football and so forth running stopped being something you just did on the playground (think how many schoolyard games involve racing around) and almost turned into a method of punishment. Running was what the coach made them do during practice and sprint and speed drills are usually no one’s favorite.
We live in a time when childhood obesity is a very serious issue. Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents in the United States aged 2—19 years are obese. Experts say our food choices and more sedentary lifestyles are major contributing factors to childhood obesity and we at SportsSignup are determined to get the younger generations back on track and leading more active and health lifestyles. We think that youth sports is a great way to get kids up and moving but when it comes to really getting them moving you can’t beat running.
But in order to get kids to actually like running again (like when they were little kids and it’s just how they got around!) we as parents and coaches have to make running fun again. Here are two ways to do just that:
Make it a game.
Asking your child to run from point A to point B isn’t exactly the most thrilling proposition. So instead of just pushing them to go for a run ask them to play a game that involves a lot of running. Think of all those playground games like tag, kick-the-can, ghosts in the graveyard, sharks and minnows, and so forth. There is a lot of running involved in those games but running itself isn’t the goal. Just like you used to hide their vegetables in clever ways so they’d eat their peas sometimes you have to hide running in a game to make it more fun! Runnersworld suggests;
Instead of just running laps, set up a playground obstacle course; plan a Scavenger Hunt Run in a local park; do continuous relays to set team records for how many miles or laps completed; have a pajama run or a flashlight run; host a kids pentathlon; do a Prediction Run or a running version of King-on-the-Mountain.
Join a youth running club or signup for a junior road race.
“But running is boring!” Probably a common complaint a lot of parents hear from their kids. So why not turn running (which is oftentimes a solitary activity) into a social activity. Check with your local park district office to see if they have a youth running club your child can join. Now they’ll have that “team” element to get them involved and maybe even make new friends! Plus, it’s a lot easier to motivate yourself when other people are around. You could also register your child for a junior road race like the Freihofer’s Junior 3K. Sometimes a little competition is all you need!