• Growing up, I never had the pleasure (or torture as my kids would describe it) of going out for a run with my parents. They were usually too busy or too tired trying to make ends meat and keeping up with the bills. Going out for a jog or allocating time to exercise was a luxury we simply could not afford. Or at least that’s what they told me. Maybe that’s the problem nowadays? We do too much and offer our children too many options that they sometimes become overwhelmed or do the opposite, of what we want, just to spite us?

    Everyone knows, and I’ve even said it myself, that the best teacher and best way to get children to do things, is for them to see you doing it. It’s not the words but the actions that matter. However, sometimes, even if you exercise and model a healthy lifestyle, your children may still want to do their own thing. My wife and I try to go running at least four times a week. Nothing crazy. About a half an hour or so. Not an easy task with four kids, but we get up early to make it happen. We’ve even adjusted our running times to get our children to go with us, but two out the four are just not interested.

    It still baffles me at how different two siblings can be, even from the same biological parents. I had it with my siblings, but somehow the differences are amplified, now that I see it with my own children. Two are totally self-motivated to exercise and eat healthy, without being prompted, while the other two need some coaxing, to say the least. I’m okay with it and realize that not all people have to be into exercise or healthy living. Who am I kidding? I’m not okay with it, but have to deal with it because the more I push and try to educate them, the more they resist. So, I’ve learned to adjust my expectations and accept who they are. But I couldn’t let it go and wanted them to have some basic health standards for their own good.

    So what do you do when you’re modeling proper behavior but your kids still want to do their own thing? The answer for me was to back off and not push it! If you go head-to-head with people then you’re likely to turn them off even more so (especially with children). Respect their position and let them have some control of what they want, depending on their age. Younger ones are generally more apt to go along with the program, while your older ones want to be independent and have more control over what they do. So, I’ve learned to let go, compromise and incorporate activities that they enjoy. I try to make it fun for them. If they don”t want to go running with me then I ask them for alternative activities they want to do. So far, they’ve come roller blading while I run, we’ve gone for walks and hikes at locations of their choice. To me, it’s all good as long as they get moving. I also try to find healthy alternatives for what they like to eat. I don’t push it but try to educate them on the differences. This way they have a choice. If something sticks, that’s great! If not, then at least I’ve planted a seed for decisions they’ll make later on in life. So far, it’s worked out pretty well and we have less battles with our exercise-resistant children.