Make Running Fun for Your Kids


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  36 comments   :  18,057 Views

"Children may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel." Author unknown

Running is such a natural activity for all of us, no matter what our age. Our bodies were designed to run. Teaching our kids the value of healthy eating and exercise is such an important role we, as parents, play in their lives. However, I believe keeping exercise fun and exciting for our kids is what will hopefully keep them interested in healthy living well into their teen and adult years.

For children under the age of 5 or 6, taking them outside and playing running games like tag or chase is a fantastic and fun way to introduce them to the sport without forcing them to follow a regimented running program. As they grow older, if they show an interest in running, then by all means let them run. Here is a link that will help guide you as to what is appropriate for each of the age groups. And if you are still uncertain as to what your child should or should not be doing, then feel free to contact the Road Runners Club of America for a list of running coaches who may be able guide your child.

As with adults, running can be such a great motivator in helping kids reach their goals. And we do know that reaching goals has been shown to boost self-confidence. This does not even account for all the great health benefits they get from being active. Girls on the Run is a wonderful program designed to teach young girls ages 8-13 to run, as well as the opportunity for them to form friendships with other girls their own age. I truly wish this program was available to me when I was growing up. Never one to enjoy the competition of team sports, I believe had I had the opportunity to participate in a running program like Girls on the Run it may have helped me through some of the trials I experienced as a kid.

With so many schools cutting back, or even eliminating physical education classes, we must determine ways to keep our youth active. Building the foundation of activity for our children is just as important as teaching them how to read and do math. However, it is very important to keep running fun.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports running for children as long as parents keep goals realistic for their child's age and not to put too much stress on their child to be the best. Putting too much emphasis on winning may drive many kids away from the enjoyment of running, therefore it may lead them to abandon the sport altogether. When we make running fun for our children, hopefully we can keep them running for a lifetime.

Have you encourage your kids to start running, even just for fun? Has your daughter even participated in a running program such as Girls on the Run? Would you consider putting her in a program like that?

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    My mom used to cut some weird lines in the grass when she was mowing the grass. Then us kids used to run down these "paths" and pretend the lawnmower was a monster and we has to run away fast. Kept us busy while she got the work done and kept us active too. - 12/14/2009   1:33:36 AM
  • 35
    Our family does 5Ks together whenever we can. My DD's are getting old enough to do longer runs/races with me. Their interest waxes and wanes but we do enjoy sharing this activity. - 12/13/2009   1:16:39 PM
    I have a lot of printables to help kids have fun running on my author site.
    - 10/4/2009   4:53:38 PM
    When my nephew (now 15) was young he ran and ran. Now his love of running takes him to 5k runs and as a freshman is running varsity cross country. I am so proud of him. He is a natural runner for sure...and my hero! One day my goal is to do a 5k with him. Go Team! - 10/1/2009   8:40:17 AM
  • 32
    A friend of mine loves to take her kids running and they love going! It makes me so happy to see them join her. I hope when I have kids, I can be the same good influence. I know when I was young, I hated running because of the way it was presented. We had to run a mile in high school under 10 minutes, or we get a 0 for that day. Me being an honor student, it made me really upset. I don't think its right to force kids to run so fast when you don't know if they physically can handle it. Lets be honest, there are a lot of overweight kids these days. I think if the teachers could start the kids off slow, encourage them to beat their personal bests, then maybe more kids would start to enjoy the self fulfillment that comes with running. Of course its not for everyone, but start them off with a good introduction instead of making it seem like torture! - 9/22/2009   8:39:01 AM
    I started running 10 years ago. Now I love it. I hated phys ed in school. We did Disney this year as a family - the youngest (7) did the kid's race, the boys (15 and 17) did the 5 km and my husband and I did the half marathon. This was the second time we did it. We have done other smaller races like this too. The kids' like the sense of accomplishment as well as the medals! Just have to keep everyone moving! - 9/21/2009   3:51:15 PM
  • 30
    I HATED to run when I was young. Running the mile was unthinkable for me and I firmly held that physical education was torture of somesort. I never understood how there could be anything FUN about running. It wasn't until about January (10 months ago) that I discovered why people love to run.
    I don't think cutting PE out of schools is going to HURT the love of running any more than cutting Romeo and Juliet out of schools would hurt children's love of Shakespear. Kids who like it will do it, most likely whether the teacher says so or not. I think PE might actually make more kids hate running than like it to be honest. - 9/20/2009   10:58:50 PM
  • 29
    My adult niece runs with Girls on the Run.
    It is a good program for her and the girls!
    Go Cassie Go. - 9/20/2009   9:57:25 PM
  • EEVEE1
    My oldest son is now 15, he has NEVER enjoyed running. He used to like bike riding and walking. He was in organized sports when he was little, and because of his refusal to run, he never did very well in them. My 13 yr old however does enjoy running sometimes when he is outside but never goes out "for a run".
    Personally, I haven't any interest in running. I would rather find another activity to do. - 9/19/2009   9:19:30 PM
    my childrens school cut Phy. Ed. out for this year so I take them to the park with me and we walk or jog I know its important for them to stay healthy and Im upset that AZ cut out P.E. but until we can get it back into the schools Im doing the best I can to keep them focused. - 9/18/2009   11:44:41 AM
  • 26
    My 9 year-old son and I are going to jog/walk a 5K this weekend. He's very goal oriented so my husband and I (who both enjoy running) are trying to reinforce the idea of running for a good cause. In this case, the run is a fundraiser for our local zoo. We're also trying to reinforce the idea that it's great to get out and move your body, and that fitness develops over time. - 9/18/2009   8:57:29 AM
    I think these programs are wonderful. - 9/17/2009   9:11:42 PM
  • 24
    My kids are 7 and 4 1/2. My DD is too young to join a program such like "Girls on the run" for now but I will certainly consider signing her up for a running group. My son on the other hand has started a Cross Country Running program last week and he loves it! They both have participated in a few Kids Fun Runs and enjoy collecting their finisher medals! :-)) - 9/17/2009   2:02:54 PM
  • 23
    My daughter is 11, and she does NOT like running. Like mother like daughter! She did participate in 3 years of soccer, but discovered swimming last year and is concentrating more on that. I must confess I'm not of a role-model when it comes to running; I much prefer a brisk walk, bike ride or swim to running. To each his own, so long as we each find some way to stay active! - 9/17/2009   1:42:38 PM
    My 5 yr old son loves to get out and run around. Next summer we intend on putting him in soccer. He gets a daily dose of running while I do my walking videos or when I get a mini 10-15 min jog in with the dogs. - 9/17/2009   11:35:03 AM
    I did the Girls on the Run for 3 years with my daughter. One year my whole family, including my sister and her friend did it to. We had a lot of fun. - 9/17/2009   11:15:41 AM
  • 20
    Unfortunately, the program isn't offered in my state. However, I have two 9 yr olds- one girl and one boy. Starting this 4th grade year for the, they are able to participate in Cross Country running. I didn't let my son participate because we are more focused on grades with him, but my daughter has joined the team. They have their 1st meet this Saturday if the weather permitts. She enjoys running and I encourage it. I even offered to try the couch 2 5k program with her to let her get the feel of distance running. That way I can continue to lose weight, she can get better at running longer distances, and she and I can just do our girl thing!! - 9/17/2009   11:09:54 AM
  • 19
    Our son has played soccer since he was 6 years old (he's almost 13 now). He is a fast runner on the field, and we have talked to him about being on the cross-country or track teams in middle school. He is a great sprinter, but he gets winded when he runs long distance. It would be great to get him together with a coach who could teach him about breathing and pacing himself.

    On the other hand, our three daughters aren't sports enthusiasts. Though all three have played soccer, one has tried skiing, another used to take kung-fu, and the third took dance for a few years, nothing has stuck with any of them. At least we still encourage family bike rides, walks, and hikes. Every bit of exercise counts! - 9/17/2009   11:05:49 AM
  • 18
    My 14 yr old started going on short runs with her dad a few years ago and has competed and done well in several 5k's. She is training for her first 1/2 marathon. She truly loves running and inspires me. All four of my kids are very active outside and enjoy running. - 9/17/2009   10:33:40 AM
  • 17
    I have always explained to my kidís the importance of exercise as a part of life. They go to the health club with me 2x a week at night, so they not only hear about mommyís passion for exercise but they see my commitment as well. While I hope they donít become as obsessed with exercise as I am, I know they at least understand the importance of it! - 9/17/2009   8:59:03 AM
  • 16
    My daughter has loved running from the day she first put one foot in front of the other. When she was 1 and 1/2 we enrolled her in her first "race". A tot trot that was 1/4 a mile. She loved it!! She was in second to last place but that didn't matter to anyone. Since then we found a local Kids Cross Country group that gets together once a week and gives the kids a chance to run. Love it!! - 9/17/2009   8:16:25 AM
    I don't have kids, but in November I'm going to be participating in a 5k that Girls on the Run is putting on. - 9/17/2009   8:06:16 AM
  • 14
    I think that programs that focus on the correct ways to run, stretch, etc., and running in progressive increments would have been wonderful as a kid! I wish that my PE teachers actually "TAUGHT" something in PE other than humiliation and a sense of failure. I'm glad that there are programs like Girls on the Run for the girls of today! - 9/17/2009   3:11:10 AM
  • 13
    Amen, Nancy. I wish there had been programs like that for me when I was younger, but the good news is that there are programs for adults like me now, and I definitely encourage my children to be active. As a matter of fact, I'm working on my daughter right now, so feel free to reinforce the message. You know where to find her. She is not playing as much soccer this year, and she is not taking PE anymore, but I think her mental health and school work will suffer if she doesn't commit to regular vigorous physical activity. I'm going to send you a link to an article about running that came out in the Washington Post health section yesterday. I'm looking forward to seeing you soon! J. - 9/16/2009   8:01:06 PM
  • TLOVESC1125
    So my son is very active and loves to stay that way my 12 year old daughter on the other hand I think hates the thought of moving. I 'm really going to check into the girls on the run. Thanks for this info. - 9/16/2009   6:16:34 PM
  • 11
    My daughter chose swimming and my son chose running on his own three years ago. While still in grade school he began to run, he decided to "get in shape" and prepare for high school track. At first I thought he would loose interest.. Boy did he surprise ALL of us. EVERY day he would run at least a mile. Now he is a sophomore in High school and is on the track team. He also cycles minimum 15 miles per week and walks everywhere he wants to go. He also asked to move our total gym into his room. He is an inspiration to me and encourages me every time we walk together. He's so sweet...he even carries a water bottle for me! - 9/16/2009   4:11:45 PM
  • 10
    You should teach young girls and boys the correct way to run but it shouldn't be the only thing they do. They need to mix up their sports throughout the year. Put your child in a different sport each season. Otherwise they use the same body parts. They need to change sports as they are growing. - 9/16/2009   4:09:12 PM
  • 9
    Ever year my kids do fun runs that are free for the kids to do.. they have the 1 mile that anyone can walk or run 5 k and more.. i do the 1 mile walk and that is fun for me.. My son run with his dad and has done that for a long time.. - 9/16/2009   3:28:34 PM
  • 8
    I had never heard of "Girls on the Run". What a great program. I have all of my children involved in soccer. They get a lot of running there and the coaches work with them on breathing. I am not in good enough physical shape to be teaching them myself. They also have to run in gym class in school. They are times every other Friday as they run the mile. It is a good challenge for them to improve their times throughout the year. I hope to be able to run with my children next Summer.
    - 9/16/2009   3:05:37 PM
  • 7
    Last Saturday I ran in a women's only 5k/10k that encouraged mother/daughter teams. I chatted with a grandmother/granddaughter team while we were waiting for the start and then had the opportunity to watch several mother/daughter teams with pretty young kids throughout the race. The kids were all having a great time and this race gave a medal to every finisher, so what a great positive reinforcement! - 9/16/2009   2:58:05 PM
  • 6
    my son is just about 4. he loves to run. even when i am out running with him in the stroller he at times jumps out and runs along side me for a bit. he is doing his first 1km trail "race" on saturday morning and he is so excited. he practices by running circles in the back yard. - 9/16/2009   2:49:32 PM
    I agree, I have a 2 yr. old, of course I dont make her run, but I take her to the park, and since she loves dogs, we walk our dog around the house. - 9/16/2009   2:21:57 PM
  • 4
    My two boys (ages 9 and 8) actually ran their first race back in June. Since I have been running and completing 5k's this has got my family wanting to do it too.

    During my kids race, my oldest actually came in third place and won a medal. My other son was just about a minute behind him.

    My husband actually completed his first 5k since high-school back in June as well.

    My daughter also likes to run with us but is only 5 so we are taking it slow with her. I love that my family is going to this next level with being active! - 9/16/2009   2:18:50 PM
    I agree totally--I have no children, so I "use" my nieces and nephews to keep active in team sports. Gives them practice, gives them some pointers, and keeps us both moving! - 9/16/2009   2:07:08 PM
  • KAREBEAR2354
    I have a 10 year old son. We ran a 5K as a fundraiser for his elementary school. He enjoyed it so much that we have ran several more. Its a great way to get some quality time in with him. - 9/16/2009   1:31:26 PM
  • 1
    My daughters both have to run a mile in pe often. My older daughter has developed exercise asthma, so has a harder time running sometimes. My 12 year old daughter just ran the mile in a little over 9 minutes, a big improvement from last year. Her freinds encourage her , and challenge each other. I would consider putting her in a program if she would do it. She, my 7th grader has lost weight, and improved a lot. I like to run, and exercise , and try to encourage all 3 of my kids to stay active. - 9/16/2009   1:23:39 PM

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