How to Motivate Your Child to Get Active

family smiling in swimming pool

Helpful tips for motivating

3-5 year olds:

  • don’t let your child sit for longer than 30 minutes
  • focus on fun over competitiveness
  • use active time as a reward 
  • limit television, computer or other screen time

6-9 year olds:

  • encourage and praise your child during and after activities to help build his/her confidence and self-esteem
  • set physical activity goals - let your child choose the goal   
  • focus on fun over competitiveness
  • limit television, computer or other screen time
  • be a role model - participate in activities with your child  

10-14 year olds: 

  • teach your child how much physical activity he/she needs - this will help your child take an active interest
  • help your child set personal goals and track his/her own progress
  • give positive feedback on activities and goals on a regular basis
  • praise and reward your child for trying new activities or achieving goals

Girls need more support and nurturing to get physically active than boys.  Help them build confidence in their abilities and highlight the socializing benefits that physical activity brings.   Let them choose the activity.

Ideas to get your kids moving

1-3 year olds:

  • dance to your child’s favourite music
  • teach your child the games you played as a child
  • read your child a story and act it out
  • sing a song with actions movements like jumping and stretching
  • toss or roll different sized balls to each other
  • go for a walk together - if you are pushing your child in a stroller or pulling a wagon, encourage your child to help pull or push for short distances

3-5 year olds:  

  • play throw and catch games with soft objects – start with larger objects and as skills improve, move to smaller ones and get them to use both right and left hands
  • try balancing games with different parts of the body
  • build an obstacle course, a fort, play hide and seek, or plan a scavenger hunt to actively explore
  • be active in all kinds of weather: jump from puddle to puddle, make snow angels or jump in piles of leaves    
  • go for a fun walk – walk slowly, quickly, with heavy steps, on tiptoes, zigzag, with little steps and with big steps and, add hops, skips and running

6-9 year olds:

  • let your children pick the activities they want to do
  • play games or sports with your child 
  • sign your child up for age-appropriate sports and activities at your local community centre
  • go for a family hike and use it as an opportunity for everyone to learn about nature
  • get outside and skate, toboggan or ski at the nearest rink or ski hill - use local football and soccer fields too


10-14 year olds:

  • become a volunteer or assistant coach - choose a sport that your child enjoys
  • let your child choose a variety of activities to try and to find the one(s) he/she likes
  • play games or sports with your child
  • use the driveway for a game of street hockey or any other fun activity  
  • go sledding or snow tubing at a nearby hill  
  • sign up for sports and activities at your local community centre   

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