Encouraging healthy active kids is something all parents want to do for their children. This is especially true when you’re a parent who’s undertaken a fitness routine of your own.
But, how can you help them build that healthy active lifestyle in a way that sticks with them?
In this episode of the GMB Show, Andy, Ryan, and Jarlo speak candidly about their experiences as fathers raising healthy active children. Besides the usual Dad duties, you’ll also hear them draw on their many years of experience in teaching fitness to children.
During the conversation, you’ll learn about some common misconceptions parents can have about kids and fitness as well as see just how easy it really is to teach kids to be active and healthy and have them stick with it.
- How to determine what programs are appropriate for your kids.
- The number one way parents ruin fitness for kids, without ever realizing it.
- The simplest yet often overlooked approach to fitness that easily encourages kids to stick with it.
- How to lead by example, and have a great time doing it.
- To recognize the specialization trap and how to keep your kids from falling into it.
A Simple Method For Encouraging Healthy Active Kids
Ryan: Hey everybody, welcome to this edition of the GMB Show. Today’s episode, we’ve got Andy, we’ve got Jarlo, we’ve got me, talking about kids.
Andy: I thought we were going to talk about boats.
Jarlo: More boats.
Ryan: More boats. It’s all about boats. A 22 footer, right?
Andy: 22 footer. That’s what, that’s-
Ryan: That’s what Amber said and-
Andy: For today’s show, you should get a 22 footer. But moving on to kids, a lot of people ask us how they should encourage their kids to be more active at various ages. You know, how do I get my kids into fitness or into moving or into just being active or being strong so that they don’t have problems later on. How do I make it so that it’s something they want to do. Then also we get questions like is this okay to do with kids, is this safe, is this all right. I think Ryan and Jarlo all three of us have kids, and we’ve spent a lot of time with them, because we’re good fathers. We have some ideas on this too, and we’ve also taught children, Ryan and I especially have done a lot of teaching of kids, and I think we’ve got some ideas on this. It doesn’t mean that we’re experts. We’re not parenting gurus or anything. Maybe we can give you some ideas for those of you who do have children or have friends who have children, ways that you can show them fun things to do that they’re going to enjoy that will set them up to be active and healthy later.
Jarlo: First on the safety issue, you know, whether particular programs are appropriate for your children or teenagers and what not. One of the things to know that’s really important to understand is that kids on a primary level are self regulating. The worst thing you can do is set expectations and have non adaptable, non adjustable programs where you tell them to complete something or else, or force them to do a certain thing. On the other hand, there’s a reason why there’s a pitch limitation in like Little League Baseball and things like that. Because after a certain point, they aren’t as good at self-regulating. But what I mean by self-regulation for children in terms of programs such as ours is that they’ll stop at a point before they’re going to get hurt.
Ryan: Uh huh.
Andy: Right. Children aren’t so attached to achieving a-
Andy: A skill or outcome that they will push themselves to an injurious level.
Jarlo: Yeah, that usually happens at the teenage and young adult level.
Jarlo: At that point. Another thing too is that our programs, as a whole, because they encourage self regulation and auto regulation and our program, that way they’re inherently safe. Because we don’t tell someone to go to a certain point, right, so in that respect, yes.
Andy: And so one of the keys there is that, the reason that Jarlo says our programs is because we specifically know that most of our programs don’t have very clear you must hit this number of repetitions or you must be lifting this amount of weight or you must be doing whatever, right? Because it’s hard to say children at different levels of ability or size for their age or whatever are going to be able to hit all of those. On any other program, too, the most important thing is to make sure that it’s process driven rather than outcome driven. Practice this kind of movement, experiment with this kind of skill, right, rather than you must get this for this duration in this specific way before you can do any other thing.
Ryan: Exploration is a big thing, I think. You know, coming back to the play aspect of things, just look at kids, and if you watch how they move when they go to the playground, they just do. There’s something there, and they just want to climb it, or they just want to jump off of it, and they’re not focusing on achieving a particular skill, they’re just trying to play with their friends. I think that when you have-, well, I’ll give you an example of my children. Eight year old daughter, six year old son. When we move around and play, there is nothing I’m trying to get them to do. They’re not trying to achieve a cartwheel or something. I might be working on my cartwheels. They see me do it, they play around and I’m not coaching them, basically, is what I’m after. It’s trying to get them involved and get them to move and enjoy the process. I think that’s a big thing.
Unfortunately, I do see parents because of the gym in Japan that I have where we only focus on children, some of the parents want to get involved and think that they need to be coaching from the sidelines. That, I don’t think is a good thing. I think if you do have your child go and learn from somebody, let that coach be the coach. It’s a different topic. But basically, when you’re with your children and you’re doing some of these programs with them, a good example might be Vitamin, a program Vitamin that we have. Don’t expect your children to be able to do anything and put pressure on them to achieve. I think, my opinion, is just let them play. You know, do it with them and say if they want to do it, cool, but I don’t know, I wouldn’t even have them go through the progressions necessarily.
Andy: Right. Because children learn best by exploring and by following their curiosity.
Andy: And that’s the way that they learn mentally but also physically, as well. So you don’t want to hold them to a specific standard or tell them that you’re measuring them against a specific thing. Obviously, you don’t want to teach them to do challenging movements with bad technique, but technique is actually a lot more flexible in children.
Jarlo: Yeah, there’s more band width-
Ryan: Yeah, right, yeah.
Andy: So you shouldn’t focus on well don’t do this, do it this way, make sure you do this. It’s different from teaching adults, because children don’t think the same way as adults, right, and they also don’t have the same level of ingrained motor patterning that we do too, so they can actually experiment a lot more, and their bodies are built to absorb a lot more of error in that experimentation, as well. Show them something that, for them to explore and for them to follow their curiosity on, and then mostly just get out of their way rather than trying to correct them.
Ryan: That’s a good point right there. Just let them do it. There’s no reason to jump in and try and coach them. I don’t think I’ve ever really coached my kids. I’ve just done stuff with them and they just play.
Jarlo: On a practical level going back to how to encourage this, one of the things that you’re dealing with, one of the barriers and obstacles is opportunity. So you have competing elements on your time and your children’s time. You have of course they want to play and we want them to be able to do this and of course physical play, but you’re competing against, you know, depending on the age of your child, you’re competing against homework, you’re competing against other scheduled activities. It seems like there’s a lot of scheduling in kid’s lives.
Ryan: Uh huh.
Jarlo: Right, but these are important things, you know, homework, chores, other family responsibilities. All of these other things. So what you’re looking for is providing the opportunity. In that respect, and why it’s a practical thing is, the things that Andy and Ryan were talking about, with playing, exploration and making mistakes, is that you don’t really have to have a regimented program, and that’s good, because you wouldn’t be able to employ a regimented program sustainably-
Jarlo: And consistently anyway. If you can only have 15, 30 minutes, that’s better than nothing, and would you rather spend those 15, 30 minutes doing like 5 sets of pushups, right, or would you rather have them practice something like a cartwheel or like moving around, rolling around, or especially the locomotives that we like to do with the bear walk and the monkey and the frogger. These are all things that are fun and can be progressive as much as the child wants to do within that time frame, and you don’t really have to have like a really detailed plan. The opportunity costs a big barrier in those questions that parents ask. How can I get my kids to do more. Well, you have, you know, the opportunity to do that is something that you’ll have to schedule in.
Jarlo: And the more regimented you try to make something, the less likely that’s going to appear on the schedule.
Andy: Right, so then how do you make them want to take those opportunities with you. You have to create some opportunities and time in the schedule, but then how do you make sure that these are things that your children want to do with you, right?
Jarlo: Uh huh.
Andy: Because if it feels like something that you’re putting an expectation or forcing them to do, they’re going to rebel against it, right? Really, I think one of the biggest things is just not to make it other, not to make it strange. Especially not to make your own practice and training something that you do privately away from them.
Andy: Right? The more divisions you create around physical practice and real life the stranger it’s going to seem to them, right? One of the biggest things is really to let them see your practice. Let them see what you do, and let them see that it’s something that’s rewarding for you and fun-
Jarlo: And a normal part of existing.
Andy: Exactly, a normal part of your life. And then it’s going to be something that they’re going to be a lot more inclined to want to do with you.
Ryan: Along those lines, as well, when you’re working out, something I’ve found with people is that they might think that their children are impeding on their workout. So let’s say your child comes over while you’re working out, and you say no, no, no, Daddy’s working out or Mommy’s working out, go do your own thing. Well, if you really want to get your family involved, then understand that yes, they might be intruding in your workout, but I kind of look at it as a different way. There’s an opportunity for you to kind of put that workout aside and then play with your kid on those movements. So rather than following that program that might be laid out for you that day, look at it as an opportunity for you to share this with your child.
Jarlo: And I know that’s difficult.
Ryan: It’s very, it’s so difficult.
Jarlo: Because you also have to carve time out for yourself.
Jarlo: Within that, and that’s what I meant about the schedule and being regimented, that also applies to yourself. So it’s difficult, it’s hard, you’re going to have to make some certain choices in that day, in that month, in that period of time of your life.
Andy: Right, but if you are a parent, then that’s not going to be anything that’s a foreign concept to you, right?
Andy: You know that you’re having to make adjustments on the fly and make changes and just do the best you can sometimes.
Jarlo: Yeah, so we’re not saying that this is what you should be doing all the time.
Jarlo: Right. What are your options and what are your opportunities, and sometimes you have to take advantage of it when you can.
Ryan: Yeah, and just like you said, Jarlo, I mean there are times where you just need your own workout, obviously. But there are times that it’s going to happen when they’re going to come on over, and if you get angry at them for interrupting your workout, then they probably won’t want to do it with you again.
Andy: So another thing to think of is that one of the reasons that we’re discussing this is because people specifically ask us all the time how can I get my, how can I do this with my family. How can I get my kids more interested in this, how can I get my kids more involved in this. And so we’ve addressed some of that. Mostly just make sure that you practice in front of them. Show them that it’s fun. Invite them in to be part of it when it makes sense to do so. But the other thing is also that you have to also allow for the opportunity that they might not be interested right now-
Jarlo: Uh huh.
Andy: In what you’re doing. You might have to find other ways to get them interested in more physical stuff. My daughter is not at all interested in doing monkey crawls with me, at all. But we moved last year to a place that’s got a great pool and there were other kids a little older than her that were there every afternoon, and over the course of about three months, my three year old learned to swim really, really well. Because she wanted to be down there playing with those kids. We found that and I didn’t want her to do any other specific kind of activity. I wanted her to do the thing that she was interested in. Over a few months it was almost every day she spent two hours practicing swimming, and she loved it.
Andy: And so maybe you might find other things that they’re interested in which can then draw them to different things later on.
Andy: Right, so it’s again coming down to not imposing a set idea on them, not imposing our will on them or our idea of what training should look like, but letting them find the path that’s interesting.
Jarlo: There’s more and more of that research coming out, that early specialization in athletic activity is no good.
Andy: It’s, some of the highest performers in very specialized sports, like what was it, Olympians, most Olympic medalists have experienced an average of like five different sports before they were ten.
Ryan: Yeah, Wayne Gretzky, there was, yeah, talking about him, as well.
Ryan: Depending on the season, he was doing a different sport when-
Jarlo: Yeah, a very broad base.
Jarlo: At a young age. Versus being just a hockey player.
Ryan: Uh huh.
Andy: And so kids have to experiment and have to choose their own thing, and a lot of times it ends up being different from the parents.
Ryan: Oh yeah.
Ryan: And there’s nothing bad about that at all. I think that anyone listening to this would agree that there, they don’t really care that their children do specific sports, but they just want their children to be happy.
Andy: And to move, you know, be physical and be comfortable in their bodies and be able to, well, to have that physical autonomy too as they grow, they can choose what they want to be able to do.
Ryan: All right, this is a short one today, but I think we talked about some good stuff. If you do have any questions, we’d love to hear from you. Call night, too, ideas, whatever, let us know. You can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, but also please leave a comment below, because we would love to hear from you. All right. Thanks fellas.
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