Why Your Kids Don’t Want To Be Active

Encouraging kids to be physically active is important for their health. But what if your kids don’t want to play outside or take up sports?

While it’s easy to blame video games as the source, there could be other reasons as to why your kids don’t want to be active. Here are just some of the possible reasons as to why your kids may be refusing to exercise.

You’re not leading by example

Kids look up to their parents as role models. If you’re not leading an active lifestyle, they may not see the reason as to why they should. Consequently, if you want your kids to play outside, it could be time to start getting off the couch yourself.

You could inspire your kids by taking up new sports or by taking part in competitive events such as runs and bike rides. Alternatively, you could plan activities with your kids such as family walks, family bike rides, games of football in the park, or other adventurous days out. You could even plan active family vacations involving skiing or cycling or kayaking. By getting used to seeing you exercise, they’ll start to see it as the normal and healthy thing that they should be doing. It could also be a great chance for family bonding and forming memories.

You’re pushing them into activities that aren’t for them

It’s possible that your kids may be refusing to take part in activities because you’re pushing into activities that aren’t for them. As your kids get older, they’ll start wanting to choose their own activities. These may not be the activities that you have a passion for.

For instance, your child may not be interested in ball sports and may be more interested in other athletic activities. A girls gymnastics class or dance class for instance may be better suited to your daughter than a netball club or a hockey club. Some boys meanwhile may be more interested in swimming or running or cycling. You may even find that your child wants to go against gender norms – for instance, it’s now much more common for girls to want to take up football and boys to want to take up ballet. Embrace the fact that they want to take up a sport, even if it’s not your preferred sport.

In other cases, kids may have no interest in sports whatsoever and may have a more creative streak. In these cases, it could be worth considering arts and crafts tasks that combine physical activity. This could include encouraging them to do chalk drawings on the pavement or allowing them to help with gardening. Such tasks could be equally active while keeping your child stimulated. Talk to your child to get a good idea of what their passions are.

You’re treating exercise as a chore

Some parents make the mistake of turning exercise into a chore (or even a punishment). This could include making your child play outside for an hour before they’re allowed to play on a games console or enforcing a weekly family walk.

Exercise is likely to become a chore for a child if it becomes a routine. If you constantly go for a walk around the same area at the same time every week, your child is going to get bored (and you might start getting bored too). Instead, use the opportunity to explore new places in your local area together. You could even plan out museum trips and trips to attractions – most of which will include a lot of walking without your child thinking of them as exercise.

Meanwhile, if you’re trying to get kids to play outside at home instead of playing indoors, consider whether your home’s outdoor space is an enriching enough environment. If there’s nothing in your backyard for kids to play with, they’ll have no reason to play out there voluntarily. Ways of creating an enriching space could include adding a trampoline, adding a paddling pool, deciding to learn more about having an in-built pool fitted, or even allowing them to take on their own gardening projects. You can’t always expect kids to use their imagination.

There may even be ways of combining technology and the great outdoors. There are many kids apps that can encourage kids to go outdoors and have fun. These could be worth downloading onto a tablet for your child to play on - they’ll feel as if they’re playing a video game while also being active outdoors. You may be able to help choose these apps with your kids.

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