Today, there was an article on skinnymom.com regarding the benefits of kids working out and exercising. I am going to speak here from personal experience. Please don’t see this as me tooting my kids’ horns; I am not…but their example could be an example to all.
When Jake, my six year old was 3, he asked if he could run a race. I said sure and began investigating the Flying Pig Marathon, Kids Marathon. Kids run 25.2 miles during the course of a couple of months and complete the final mile during the Flying Pig events. When I went to sign him up; I was told it wasn’t a very good idea…he was too young…he couldn’t make it….blah blah blah. The funny thing is at packet pick up this yea, the lady in charge asked for the kids’ names and when they told her she laughed and smiled and said…I know that name…the young runner kids. Well, he did run the entire thing and did a great job and hasn’t stop running since. This year he ran the one mile in 8 min and 30 seconds…(I didn’t have a mile that fast in the entire half marathon). Max, my three year old did his first race this year and ran the entire time too.
To train this year, I had the kids join a running group at a community center. The kids there are of all races and income levels and I was more than excited for my kids to run with other kids. The best thing about the running group is that everyone was respectful to one another while running. Some of the girls were a bit mouthy before group started; but once out on the mile training runs they were respectful and even helpful to one another. Running levels the playing field…you practice…you train…you run better. And, in running you compete against yourself. It is not a team sport, there isn’t a star or a fancy uniform. It is you and the road and getting from the start to the finish. The kids were really liking the running. They were liking the structure and they could not wait to write down the miles they logged. It was an exciting and wonderful experience.
Here is my message. If we underestimate our kids abilities, they will underachieve. Yes, sometimes when the bar is set too high they feel like they haven’t reached their goals. But as parents it is our job to find the fine line between those two things. Exercise and running has been a great tool for our family; it unites us. Jake will run a 5k (3.1 miles) next month at a race honoring his cousin; I can’t think of a better honor than crossing the finish line. Don’t underestimate you kids, they are far tougher than we give them credit for…help them set attainable goals that will require some effort and in the end you will have a child with great self-esteem and confidence. And please remember that fitness/exercise goals are as important as academic goals. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in our public schools and the lack of fitness opportunities of any type for our children. Clearly, they haven’t read the studies that suggest the physical activity and academics go hand in hand with achievement. And if you have time to volunteer with kids whose parents maybe aren’t the best role models for acedemics or physical activity, consider donating some time.
Have a great week.