For most kids in this age group, the main objections, apart from the attractions of TV, computer and gaming, are likely to be, first, their friends or peer group don’t do it, and second, it reminds them of unpleasant PE lessons at school.
The ideal way to deal with the first point, if at all possible, is to see if you can get together with other parents to organize group activities. Although there may be grumbling at first, there is a much better chance of them getting interested if their friends are all doing it too.
It might also be an idea to take them along to watch some of the high-school teams; they can often be inspired by age groups just above them. If your teen girl is reluctant to eat because she is afraid of getting fat, point out that exercise is much more effective for keeping the weight off.
On the second point, it is important to emphasize to them that exercise doesn’t have to be confined to the kind of stuff they did at school. In fact, it can be anything they enjoy doing, as long as it gets them moving. Of course, what they enjoy will vary according to the individual.
- One idea that is often successful is using fitness, yoga, or dance DVDs. Dance, in particular, is something most of them enjoy doing, and they can do it either at home or with a group of their friends. The big advantage of this is that the creators of the DVDs have already done all the thinking for you concerning the correct routines for fitness, so all you have to do is put the DVD in the machine. In addition, there is a good chance the kids will get fit without even realizing they are exercising.
- If funds allow, arrange regular group outings to a bowling alley, ice-skating rink, or rock-climbing wall. These can be either family outings or groups of the children’s friends. A martial arts class might also be popular.
- If you have home gym equipment, the kids can actually use it while watching TV or listening to their favorite music. For instance, you can use an elliptical trainer, a stationary bike or a treadmill. Alternatively, if funds permit, you can organize group visits to the local gym, but they have to be regular to be effective. If you use an elliptical machine, it has the extra benefit that all the family can use it too and set a good example.