It’s no secret that your children are likely to become less active throughout the winter months. The end of October to the beginning of the New Year oftentimes can mean an increased likelihood of unhealthy indulgence, while physical activity levels decrease.
Fortunately, as a partner of the Together Counts™ program for healthy, active living, we understand that with the right stimuli, most children love staying active, and this time of year is the perfect opportunity to introduce gifts that will encourage them to embrace a healthier lifestyle. This holiday season, consider giving your children a gift that facilitates active play. After all, learning to enjoy this kind of gift in the early years provides crucial building blocks for the future, and physical competence is ideal for building self-esteem at any age.
Whatever their interests, here are some of our suggestions for healthy holiday gifts that will keep your children’s minds and bodies in action.
1. Interactive Video Games
In general, medical experts have been critical of video games because of their tendency to promote a sedentary lifestyle. However, the world of video games has come a long way over the decades – evolving from stationary hand-held devices, to active and engaging technology that relies upon physical motion and interactivity. Some studies have even suggested that certain video games, such as options for the Wii, or Xbox Kinect, allows individuals to access the same level of moderate-intensity activity that they would get from going to the gym.
Keep in mind that children are more likely to gravitate toward standard video games than physically active options, so if you do purchase a console for your kids, you’ll need to supply them with plenty of active games, and monitor their usage. While active games are better than sedentary options, don’t rely on them exclusively to promote healthier activities for children.
2. Toys Designed To Get Children Outside
One of the best things you can do for your children today is encourage them to spend more time outdoors, and less time cooped up in front of the television. Christmas provides a great opportunity to purchase a few special gifts that focus entirely on your child getting outdoors to make the most of their new toy. For example:
- A sled can be the ideal choice for the winter if you’re in a location that experiences a lot of snow. Not only is it exhilarating, but it’s great for fitness and a fantastic way for families to bond in a group activity together.
- Kites can be a great solution for getting kids outdoors, because they work regardless of the season. All you need is a bit of wind, and you’ll be good to go.
- Bikes and scooters encourage children to engage in a new hobby, and increase the chances that they’ll be happy to take trips using physical activity, rather than relying upon you to take them everywhere in your car.
- Kids love to jump, so if you want to keep your little ones bouncing their way to a healthier lifestyle, a miniature trampoline for the backyard could be the perfect solution
Don’t forget, even if your children aren’t on a sports team yet, having sports equipment available such as a basketball and hoop, or a goal for soccer, could encourage them to practice their skills and create their own games. The right sports not only keep children active, but help them to develop their coordination skills, and self-confidence.
3. Personalized Sports Equipment
One great way to get your children interested in a more active lifestyle this holiday season, is to personalize the gifts you give them, to ensure each item resonates with your child on a deeper level. For instance, if your child loves the idea of riding his bike, but complains about it being boring or scary, you could enhance the fun with cool helmet covers or light decals.
If your child has expressed interest in a certain sport or activity in the past, you can sign them up for lessons with a professional tutor or coach, and make sure you also give them all of the equipment they need to pursue their interest. For example, if your child wants to join a football team, get them personalized equipment with their name written on the shirt, or a signed ball from their favorite player. If they’ve shown interest in karate, buy them their first belt and karategi.
Encouraging your children’s interest in a particular sport not only helps them improve their health, but offers them the opportunity to build greater confidence and self-discipline.
4. Traditional Solutions for Younger Kids
If you think your child is too young to fully grasp the rules of sports, remember the benefits of art, dance, puzzles and traditional toys. For instance, art and dance are great for helping children to express themselves, increase their focus and develop hand-eye coordination. Similarly, though building blocks and puzzles don’t involve a great deal of physical activity, they do help children enhance their fine motor skills and develop their minds.
Remember that encouraging your children to adopt a healthier lifestyle isn’t just about physical activity, it also means advancing their minds, evolving their understanding of the world, and helping them pursue healthy goals.
Develop Life Long Habits
As a parent your goal should be to encourage your children into remaining as active and engaged as possible – no matter the weather. Healthy, physically active kids are more likely to develop life-long healthy habits, as well as being more academically motivated, successful, and alert.
SPARK is a research-based program that provides award-winning, evidence-based curriculum and teacher training for Physical Education (K-12), After School, Early Childhood, and Coordinated School Health and is a member of the Together Counts Program™. Since 1989, SPARK has provided curriculum, training, and consultation to over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders worldwide. Visit www.sparkpe.org to download sample lesson plans, find grant opportunities, and register for free educational webinars and monthly eNewsletters.
For more holiday inspiration, take a look at these other great articles from Together Counts!