Activity guidelines for children
Let’s start with some basic guidelines. When considering what to do with your son, it is also important to keep in mind that physical activity guidelines can vary with age. For infants, 30 minutes of ‘tummy time’ throughout the day with opportunities to push things, reach for objects, sit up and crawl is sufficient.
Toddlers up to two years of age need at least 180 minutes of activity throughout the day and this can include exploring the outside with you, playing in a sandpit or wading pool and generally anything that you can find that is safe and age appropriate.
From three to five years of age boys should have about 60 minutes of vigorous play followed by other physical activities throughout the day. Obstacle courses in the yard or home, mini-Olympic competitions designed by you, competitive games or even helping wash the car can provide the ‘vigour’ needed in play.
At the very least, physical activity should be part of a daily routine and may require you to set limits on screen time while encouraging breaks from sitting throughout the day in front of a TV or computer.
Tips for being active with children at home
If you feel that you are not creative enough to come up with different ways to get your son active, you can find an abundance of things online for children of all ages. For example, Joe Wicks, a British fitness guru has become an internet sensation with his online physical education classes, ‘PE with Joe’.
Joe has made exercise fun, doable at home, immensely popular and something the whole family can do. Doing PE with Joe not only offers your son an outlet, but it can be a shared activity with many benefits for you as well.
If you find that exercising with Joe is not for you or not working, you can also use an app called ‘Sworkit’ that lets you build a child friendly workout, or one for you as well. This app is a great way for boys to plan their own routines with your help and build a daily exercise regime.
Aside from apps and exercising online, perhaps a trampoline would be a good investment if you don’t already have one. Alternatively walking up and down stairs can become a daily challenge of personal bests. Or have your son do an ‘exerclean’ with you as you actively incorporate lunges, squats or other exercise movements with daily household chores. Being active can have the added bonus of creating a tidy home! In fact, do this after you have created an in-house obstacle course and you can get more bang for your buck.
Another important factor here is to be a role model for your son. Finding time to do things together is important and can provide a great deal of family fun. You can achieve this by simply writing down exercises on small pieces of paper, putting them in a jar, and then letting family members choose from the jar. Remember, however, that everyone, including you, has to do the selected activity so keep that in mind when deciding what exercises you want to include.
In the end, there are infinite possibilities for creating opportunities for your son to burn off his endless abyss of energy.
Once again, if you are stuck for ideas on how to turn parts of your home into a playground you can find many ideas online from parents who are dealing with the same challenges as you during the pandemic.
And finally, stay calm and make life as predictable as possible. Boys and girls alike are great at seeing stress in their parents and then wearing those feelings on their own shoulders.
At a time when the world is in a state of immense upheaval it is even more important for you to be calm and to find ways for your children to cope. To that end, physical activity can be an important aspect of taking care of your body and also your mind.
Harness your son’s energies and roll with them and you may find that the benefits of the activities for your son extend beyond his maturing body and mind and help to make your days calmer and healthier as well.
Nagel, M.C. (2021). Oh Boy: Understanding the Neuroscience Behind Educating and Raising Boys. Amba Press.
Nagel, M.C. (2021). It’s A Girl Thing: Understanding the Neuroscience Behind Educating and Raising Girls. Amba Press.