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Kids In Motion


By the time they reach high school, 63 percent of children are no longer physically active. Why?

If your kids fall within this group, you don't have to shake your head sadly. You can set a good example, be a role model and do the right things so your kids will, too.

Get off the couch and on a bike with your kids. Introduce them to exercise that's fun. Eat healthy. Instead of high-calorie foods and snacks, turn to fruits and low- or non-fat foods. And once you get kids moving in the direction of fitness, chances are they'll keep going for the rest of their lives.

Start 'em young

Did you know that physically active children have fewer chronic health problems than kids who are sedentary?

Children who are fit have other statistics in their favor, too. They're better able to meet the demands of daily physical activity. They do better in physical-performance tests. They have a stronger self-image and more self-confidence, and they demonstrate greater improvement in skill- and health-related fitness.

When you consider the facts, it makes good sense to encourage physical activity when your children are young. Parents, teachers and fitness professionals all have a role to play. Each can help kids think positively about exercise and motivate them to make regular physical activity a lifetime pursuit.

Mom and dad are the best motivators

As a parent, it's up to you to play the biggest part - bigger than a teacher, more important than a fitness professional. Your child looks to you for examples on how to talk, dress, act and lead a physically active - or a non-physically active - life.

Set a good example for your kids. Instead of spending the evening in front of the television, find some activity that will keep you moving. In warm weather, bike outdoors; if it's too cold, get a stationary bike, a treadmill or a trampoline.

And it's never too late or too early to help your kids build strength and endurance. Push-ups and pull-ups are an excellent way to build upper-body strength. Jungle gyms and monkey bars are great for kids because they utilize their own body weight. And they're loads of fun.

Keep in mind that kids are not always naturally limber and that their muscles may be tight and vulnerable to injury during the growth spurts that occur during the elementary years. Be sure to include stretching as a part of your fitness activities.

Make sure that you concentrate on the positive aspects of exercise. It's a chance for a family to be together, to share good times and fun. Avoid competition, discipline and embarrassment - things that can turn good times into moments of dread. And praise your children for trying. Praise them for doing.

It's really up to you

You can't tell kids that being active is fun. You have to show them. So take your kids hiking, biking, dancing, sledding, swimming and in-line skating. Skip rope or shoot baskets with them.

Plan outings and activities that involve walking, like a trip to the zoo or the park, a nature trail hike, or even a walk through the mall. It's really up to you. If you want your kids to be healthy, happy teens and adults, it's up to you to do something about it.


Dealing With Parental Stress

By: Trevor Dumbleton

One of the biggest problems with having children is the remarkable fact that they tend to be the source of parental stress. This is, obviously, the unique stress that comes from being a parent and having to worry about the fact that your kids are growing up, learning new things, living their lives their own way, and -- all too often -- figuring out things the hard way. In addition, you have to worry about your kids making the right decisions, staying out of trouble, and just generally turning into human beings just like you. Needless to say, this tends to create a lot of parental stress.

Being a parent isn't easy. After all, you are responsible for raising, instructing, and helping children as they work their way from an infant into adulthood. And even when they go off on their own, you still worry about them as they make their way through the world. Despite the fact that they move on into adulthood, you never stop being a parent and you want to make sure that they are doing okay. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done and it is not easy to let them go. Thus, you find yourself both trying to give them freedom and trying to hang on to them as they go out into the world.

The problem becomes one of both trying to keep a hold of your children and trying to let them be their own people. Thus, in order to allow you children to move on, you need to learn to let them go. That's right, in order to ease parental stress, you need to learn how to be less of a parent. In fact, you need to learn how to let them make their own mistakes. This is very difficult, since you will have to watch them as they go through the process of growing up, largely without your help. This can be very difficult, since you will want to protect them from the world. But the world will show up sometime and you will need to let them learn to deal with it. Needless to say, this will only make parental stress worse for a while, since you will be essentially standing on the sidelines as they make errors that you could have warned them against. Just remember that it will do them good in the long run and they will be better for it.

However, this does not mean that you shouldn't keep an eye on your children. Let's face it, you are still a parent and you need to watch over your children. Trying to cope with parental stress will not be improved by being completely ignorant of your children. Instead, let them be themselves as you try to keep an eye on them. They will find their own way, even if you do not always enjoy the path that they have to go down to get there. Just allow them to be imperfect and they will learn what they need to know in the process.

But when the stress of child-raising gets to be too much, don't be afraid to get help. There are plenty of support groups, books, and websites out there that want to help you through your parental stress. Don't be afraid to give them a try, if for no other reason than to stay informed. Nobody said it was going to be easy, so try to keep your stress under control. Then, by keeping it under control, you can survive a lot of difficult situations and a lot of difficult years and prevent yourself from going crazy with worry.

Just remember that your children will, eventually, become rebellious and they will probably try to act in a way that may shock you. It is well-known that parental stress can be fairly severe during the teenage years, since teenagers are always eager to go their own way. And if that doesn't increase parental stress, nothing will. You will often find yourself on the sideline, trying to figure out what is going on in their heads, but try to remember that you were their age once. Teenagers aren't perfect. Neither are adults. Keep both of those items in mind and you may be able to keep your parental stress to a minimum.

No, parental stress is not easy. No, it is not simple to solve. No, there is no point where you can just let your children go completely. However, by managing your own parental stress, allowing your children to grow up, and understanding that your children need to make their own mistakes sometimes, you can keep your emotions under control and allow your children to be themselves. So, rather than allowing parental stress to take over your life, let parental stress take a backseat to keeping an eye on your children, making sure that they are doing fine, and enjoying the years when they are growing from youth to adulthood and beyond.