More Ideas for Your Family
Special Needs, Special Problems
It's even trickier for kids with special needs to maintain a healthy weight because of mobility limitations, medication side effects, and food aversions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that children with disabilities are 38 percent more likely to be obese.
If you have a child with special needs, daily routines are especially important. For kids who are mobile, running games, walking to destinations, swimming, and bike riding are all good ways to increase activity levels. If you're not part of a special-needs family but have friends who are -- or even if you see some kids in the park -- make an effort to start playground games that include them too.
The Right Game for Every Kid
While all children need about 60 minutes of activity per day to stay healthy, encouraging a heavy child to move more isn't easy. By age 4, children are already developing a physical concept of themselves, and by age 5 they start to get self-conscious about their weight. Many heavier kids are shy about group play and need coaxing. Try involving your child in these activities:
- Playground classics, like hopscotch, jumping rope, and monkey bars
- Martial-arts classes, which are a fun group activity but also encourage individual improvement and calorie-burning calisthenics
- Golf or tennis, which improve focus and skill
- Walking with a pedometer. Kids love the immediate feedback. A good goal for kids 6 and older is roughly 12,000 steps per day.
Originally published in the September 2012 issue of Parents magazine.