6 Tips to Make Running with Kids a Great Bonding Activity
Introducing your kids to an exercise routine is probably the best thing that a parent can do for their child. It doesn’t just help them physically, but it also affects their mental health.
You can have a well-equipped home gym to exercise as a family – learn from this article on the best treadmill to invest in. An alternative to home workouts is more outdoor activity such as running.
Running is probably one of the best forms of exercise that children will enjoy. When running with your kids, you are not only helping them with their physical activity, but you’ll have a great bonding experience as well.
Here are some tips to help you bond more when running with your kids.
Gradually Introduce Running to the Kids
Whether you’re a seasoned runner or a weekend person, it pays to introduce running to the kids gradually. You’ll want to find a delicate balance between sharing the passion with the kids and not pushing them too hard.
Forcing or being pushy will lead to:
- Outright rejection of the sport
- A distance in your relationship
- Resistance, when you want to spend time together trying out new things
- Kids will not be motivated to do better or achieve more
To introduce running gradually, understand the kids’ capabilities which also depend on their age.
- Start with more manageable exercises such as running around a small yard few times a day.
- Gradually increase the speed and intensity of the exercise.
- Give kids time to rest between running sessions.
- Give them time to rest after an exercise.
- Make sure they’re nourished and well hydrated during and after the session.
Once you get back to the house, congratulate them for a well-done job, spend time talking about the experience, and plan when to do it again. Start with a less demanding schedule like once or twice a month, then aim for once, twice, or three times a week.
Other things to consider are:
Letting the Kids Know the Benefits of Running
Kids will more likely accept and keep up with the new routine when they understand all the benefits. Explaining the benefits will also allow you to connect with the kids at a more profound level-the sport will be a uniting factor.
Some of the benefits of running for kids are:
- Better mental health
- Ability to manage body weight
- Improved heart health
- Longer life expectancy
- Better sleep cycles
- Increased strength in the knee joints, ankles, and hips
- Better coordination of hands and feet resulting in better body balance
- Better health in adulthood
Because kids have different understanding levels depending on the age, take time to detail the benefits. Patiently answer their questions and keep on pointing out the benefits until they understand.
Kids will be delighted to know there’s something you’re doing as a family to keep healthy.
Looking for a Route that is Safe and Scenic
Finding a safe and scenic route keeps everyone excited about the routine. A less busy road, greenery, and manageable path are some factors to look for when choosing a course for running with kids. Create time to take in the scenery, chat, crack jokes, and enjoy each other’s company.
Some tips to achieve this include:
- Choosing a route that has less traffic
- Make sure the course is kids friendly
- Find a scenic route that takes you to places where you can stop for lunch or snacks. Parks, near the beach or a lake, an idyllic meadow are excellent choices.
Bond Over Fun and Stylish Clothing
Wearing comfortable clothing will make running more enjoyable for kids of all ages. Match the colors and choose whatever is fashionable and fun at the moment.
When deciding what to wear on a workout, be practical but also show some style:
- Choose bright colors to make it easier to spot the kids just in case they wander away
- Wear clothing that reflects the season perfectly
- When running in cold weather, wear layers to keep everyone warm and dry
- When it’s hot, go for breathable materials that let air flow freely
Comfortable shoes are a must for everyone, including parents. Be sure to choose kids sneakers that fit well and have good support. To make the exercise more fulfilling, involve the kids when shopping and selecting the family workout clothes.
Patiently Answer Questions Along the Way
Children are curious all the time. You’re sure to face hundreds of questions when running. Take this advantage to teach them about the environment, animals, and plants you find on the way. You can even stop to point out a few trees or plants.
Because kids love learning new things, they’ll always be looking forward to what their next trip has in store for them.
Incorporate Games and Challenges
Remember running time is a chance to bond, explore and have fun.
To achieve this, layout outdoor games such as
- Competing to the next pole
- Seeing who can count the most birds, and
- Timing each other as you race to see who’s faster
Any outdoor activity or race that involves everyone is bound to keep the whole family motivated and excited for more next time. As you already know, kids detest chores, and adding fun to the routine keeps them happy.
Join a Running Group
Because kids love making and spending time with new friends, take this chance to find a running group. The effort will allow them to make new friends and have more fun going out for runs or trips. Look in your neighborhood for age-appropriate groups and attend a few meetings before taking the plunge.
Another option you should try is participating in fun racing. Check different race options and make sure to consider your kids’ ages and abilities. One excellent option is a 5K race in your local area. The race will make even the slowest kids feel they’ve achieved something by crossing the finish line.
Acknowledge Achievements and Track Progress
Rewards, acknowledgment, applause, and encouragement are the best ways to ensure your kids want to keep running. They also feel closer to you. Being part of a team or group also means that someone is always rooting for them.
Keep track of their progress and make it visible with medals, trophies, stickers, and signs. When your child slacks or doesn’t want to run, don’t give up. The next outing could be the turning point that makes them realize how much they enjoy running.
Also, let the kids discover the progress they’ve made along the way. It will encourage them to keep pushing harder. Ways to track progress include:
- Keep track of routines like running time, distance covered, and speed
- Record new techniques, movements, and transitions you learn while working out together
- Make checklists that you can always review after a run- do this weekly or monthly
You can give rewards after:
- Two weeks of regular running
- Monthly or at the end of an agreed program
- After achieving annual goals or setting new personal records
When you make running part of your lifestyle, you’ll bond, lose weight, get fit and healthy. Running enables your family to achieve the minimum physical activity guidelines.
Research indicates that only 24% of children between the age of 6 to 17 have at least one hour of physical activity every day. By running regularly, you’ll maintain a happy household where everyone feels accommodated and appreciated.
Tips from RunnerClick Pro Coaches
Whenever looking for running advice, we like to lean on some of our coaches for the Runnerclick Pro online community.
Whitney Heins is the founder and coach of The Mother Runners. Here is what Whitney has to say, “Talk openly about why YOU love running & what makes it so special & amazing. Talk about how it makes you feel strong, how awesome it is to work hard towards a goal & achieve it, the friends you’ve made, etc. Expose them to the running community by taking them to races. & never ever pressure your kid to run.
If you run with them, make it 100 percent FUN. If you pressure them to run faster or farther, you’ll kill any innate desire they have to be a part of this sport. And, cheer a lot! And be specific in your cheering. Say more than “you’re doing great!” Tell them how tough they are to not give up when they are tired, or how strong they look charging up a hill, etc.”
Another coach, Carrie Miller owner of On Race Pace, has this advice:
- Get them excited about it – maybe buy them some new running shoes and have them know it’s a really grown-up thing to do. They are running just like mom or dad!
- Don’t push it if they don’t want to run. It needs to be something they want to do. *Depending on age, have a realistic goal and plan. I lead a program at school with 4K to 4th graders (ages 4-10) who train 2 times a week for 6 weeks to run a local 5k. I’m always shocked at how well they do and how much they enjoy the accomplishment of the race.
- Start short/slow and build. A quarter-mile turns into a half-mile and so on. No big jumps in mileage – keep the pace what they are dictating or wanting to do – don’t push for more until they are ready or want more.
- Make it fun: Do a scavenger hunt run where they find certain items with you, run with your dog, run to a fun place to eat, etc.
- Celebrate! After they accomplish a new goal or have a great run, let them do something they want to do as a reward – give them a certain dollar amount to spend at a store, eat ice cream, buy some candy.
- Make sure they are eating healthy – Nutrients, fruits, veggies, protein for their body to be healthy and sustain the efforts they are giving.
- If something hurts, take care of it right away and don’t run through it. Take a break until they feel 100%.
- If they are training for a goal – keep to a schedule that they can understand and see.
My 2 Cents as a Running Coach
As a coach for a kids running program, I agree wholeheartedly with what has already been said. If you make it feel like work, the kids are likely to get frustrated and disengage. On the other hand, if you work to make it fun, the children will follow your lead.
Playing games, offering incentives, having a positive attitude, and letting your child lead are all little things you can do to keep running fun and engaging. Just keep in mind that if you are hoping to get a PR with your small person in tow, that isn’t likely to happen for a while. However, if you are hoping to share your love of something amazing and to heck with time or distance, you are heading in the right direction.
Building a love of running and helping to foster a situation where you are raising your running buddy is really an amazing journey. Don’t be afraid to travel that path!
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