5 tips to get started
In no way will I pretend to have all (any?) the answers here. I’m forever trying to find more ways to introduce more movement, more activity into our lives. We all know how important both movement and team sports can be for gifted kids. But what do you do when you have a kiddo who stays in place? I have one sporty who can’t stop moving and will try every team and solo sport ever invented, and one who can stay in place for stretches so long, you’d think my house was the next opening of Madame Tussaud’s.
When you are thinking about how to help a 2E kiddo get more movement in their day – I’d recommend two perspectives from which to tackle the issue:
- Why are they sedentary? What’s holding them back?
- How can you structure your lives, so that it comes naturally?
What’s holding your kiddo back?
Is it anxiety about the social engagement required for team sports? Is it the number of unexpected transitions when you’re in the middle of something (i.e. what if you don’t like a ski hill part way down? Or the coach adds a new drill)? Is it fear of not being the best? Is it a previous negative experience? As parents, we need to be introspective on this one.
One of my least favorite expressions is: If they could do better, they would do better. It drives me crazy because when I remember it, it’s usually because my expectations have been beyond what my kiddo is capable of tackling, and I don’t recognize it in the moment. I remember the expression, at the end of the day when I’m reflecting on a tantrum or other explosion. If I remembered the expression in the moment, it likely wouldn’t drive me quite so crazy.
But here’s the thing when it comes to getting your body moving. Movement is the natural state — so if they could do better, they would….. What’s holding them back. What’s holding you back?
5 Tips to build movement into their lives
- Family Time: Until they are teens — kids will follow your example. Are you out raking leaves? Shoveling Snow? Their “help” will eventually become help. And until then at least they are moving. Family walk after dinner with the dog? What about a vacation that includes daily swimming?
- Lead by example: How have you incorporated movement into your life? 2E kiddos are super observant and mine are hyper fast noticing any discrepancy between words and actions. Sound familiar? When you look at your world — are you getting your target # of steps in? How are you building strength? Maybe your hobby is chopping wood. Maybe you’ve joined a crossfit gym. Regardless — your kiddos will notice your words and actions are consistent. And you will notice the improved mood and energy. Tell me — which of us 2E parents doesn’t need more of that!
- Formal Lessons & Activities: If you’re headed down the path of lessons or teams, consider having a word with the coach or instructor to let them know your objectives (participation & enjoyment vs super start creator). And take a look for articles like this one — that have suggestions for how sports and activities can be modified to suit your kiddo. The local teen or parent coach is unlikely to be equipped with creative modifications
- Try Non-Traditional Activities: Not everyone needs to play football. Roller-skating, fencing, curling, double dutch, parkour, trampoline, slack rope walking….. Whatever. Give it a try. For use – Parkour was amazing. Full of kids on the spectrum, full of kids with creative problem solving to get through the obstacles, no “right way” to do it and exhausting. Perfect combo!
- Start a Challenge: My kids are competitive, and I’m always on the lookout for ways to channel that into something constructive. Using the January plan laid out in the “big book of 30-day challenges“, I have challenged myself to follow the plan for the month, and invited the kids to tackle more days than me. So far, we have 2-3 days a week of hitting the challenge…. Not what I’d hopped, but better than 0. It’s more complicated than my kids can really follow, so next month we’re going to try a push-up challenge. At our house, winner gets a $10 subway card.
After years of swim lessons spent on the side of the pool, and skating lessons spent on the side of the rink, I’m setting the example by adding more movement and activity into my life. And as I head out to the pool, or to the basement to life weights or the canal to skate — they can join me if they want to. I have control over my movement. I have no control over theirs.
Good luck! Let me know now it goes.