Motivate your kids

So how do you get kids motivated to be active, especially those who aren’t natural athletes? The key is finding activities they enjoy. The options are many, from running and inline skating to tennis and swimming. When kids find an activity that’s fun, they’ll do it a lot, get better at it, feel accomplished, and want to do it even more. Likewise, if they’re pushed into activities they don’t like, they’re unlikely to want to participate and will end up frustrated and will feel like exercising is a chore.

It’s much easier to motivate young kids than teens to establish new habits. Start as early as possible and if you haven’t been living healthy before, then it’s time to start during pregnancy. Studies shows that pregnant women who are overweight or have poor eating habits during pregnancy are at greater risk of having overweight children.

If you already have kids, then there’s nothing to wait for. Start today! Being physically active, eating healthy and sleeping enough is important during all periods of life. You never get too young or too old for that. Kids who grow up in an active family are more likely to remain active as adults, and they’re likely to pass on a passion for physical activity to their own kids.

Be a role model

Many parents know that their kids need to be more active and eat healthier, but it’s a completely different matter to motivate them to change habits. If you want to successfully motivate your kids to live a healthier life, the number one on the list is to become a good role model. Kids do as we do and not so much as we say. Set a good example by being active and eating healthy yourself!

Be positive

One of the most important ways to get your kids to appreciate physical activity and sports is to always talk positively about it. Kids love to do things together with their parents, so try to do lots of fun activities together. Of course, as parents, we always want the kids to do the right things and we can sometimes be quick to correct the mistakes they are doing. Let them make mistakes and don’t comment or correct everything. A good rule of thumb is that kids should get 5 times more positive feedback than negative. More about this in the chapter on becoming a good sports parent.

Have fun!

All kids are different and enjoy different types of activities, but the main reason for most kids to participate in physical activity is to have fun. Of course, it’s important to meet friends and to get better at the sport, but having fun is and will be number one. Find out what your kid likes and try to find some activity based on this. Keep in mind that we all need variety.

Many parents push their kids to start a particular sport just because they love that sport themselves. This can put them off for life. Try to find a balance of encouragement and pushing and remember to do it for the kid’s sake and not for your own.

Kids love to be active. They love to play and move around because it’s fun, but they don’t directly think about their own health, so don’t use this as an argument to get them active. Instead, always try to find the fun in the activity and use that to motivate them.

Prioritize and Plan

To get physical activity into your and your kid’s life, you have to plan and prioritize your family time. Every choice we make implies that we must opt ​​out something else. Many of the things we think we “have to do” could easily be taken away if we sat down to prioritize. Find out for yourself! We must learn to say NO! NO has been shown to be one of the most difficult words to say and the word that causes most stress related problems.

Prioritize things that are important to your family, and finding time for physical activity and healthy cooking should be high up on every family’s list.

Set goals

It is important to have goals in life, and this also applies to physical activity and health. Set realistic and measurable goals that can be achieved.

It can be simple things like:

  • Walk or bike instead of taking the car 3 times a week.
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Watch TV 30 minutes less each day and use this time for physical activity.
  • Eat sweets only on Saturdays.
  • Walk 10,000 steps every day.

Only your imagination sets the limits to what your family goals can look like. Keep in mind to have realistic goals as no kids want to fail and make their parents disappointed. If they fail to reach a goal, they can lose interest instead of being motivated.

Make it easy to be active

For kids to be active, it’s important that they have plenty of opportunity to be active. Help them to sign up for classes or sports team and take them to playgrounds and other active spots. At home, always have balls, jump ropes and other fun equipment readily available.


Rewards always works very well with kids (and for adults as well for that matter). Never reward yourself or your kids with sweets, more TV time or a new video game or anything else you want them to do less of. Instead, reward them with something fun and motivating such as a visit to the playground or new running shoes. And keep in mind to NEVER use physical activity of any kind as punishment.

Remember to always give yourself a pat on the back after a completed workout instead of punishing yourself for the ones you’ve missed. It’s important to feel successful.


Most kids love to compete, so to organize different kind of competitions at home with the family is often very popular. I was often ”tricked” into going to the store by mom or dad who would keep the stopwatch ready. And of course, I wanted to beat my old record. Use your imagination and ask the kids. They always have plenty of great ideas.

It’s also fun for kids to participate in competitions or races with other kids and it’s motivating to have something special to train for. In most cities, there’s a wide range of different types of competitions and races that kids can sign up.


Coach Peter