Blog Post | Giving Our Kids a Plate Load of Fun with a Side Dish of Exercise


Giving Our Kids a Plate Load of Fun
with a Side Dish of Exercise


I read an article on Lifehacker that had some really great thoughts on how to involve our children in exercise without actually promoting it as “exercise” but as “fun”. Reminds me of how I tried to get my kid to eat healthier without telling him that’s what I was trying to do. You know, a parent’s way of using some sort of reverse psychology. I also tried to camouflage the healthy ingredients within a meal he would already like. “Boy, was that some fun times”, she said flippantly while crossing her eyes.

But I have to say some of the ideas in this article seemed very useful especially since we tend to forget that exercise is allowed to be fun. If it’s built around something we like doing, it is more likely we will do it. So if I really like spending time around water, why not find activities that are water-related? I was raised on the Texas Gulf Coast and was totally in my element when playing beach volleyball, water skiing, boogie boarding or running on the beach. But no way did I consider it exercise because it was fun. Go figure huh?

Perhaps we must get more creative as to what we call it and how we frame it with our kids. I mean, consider it a win if you can get them involved in something that relocates them away from their computers, gaming consoles or phones and involves more movement than just rolling their office chair around. Heck, I would be willing to participate with them and even allow them to beat me and do the victory dance if it gets them out of their room and away from the screens. 

Team sports are not for everyone, and they can be particularly difficult for those of us with ADHD if they just become another thing we get yelled at for not giving our full attention. I loved softball if my field position stayed busy. But put me in right field with very little action and soon I was talking to my friends on the other side of the fence or picking flowers. I will not elaborate on the harsh comments I endured from the coach or parents. After all these years, I still remember them vividly and it still has a bite.

We do not want to set our kids up for failure if possible because the memories will carry on. Really look at your child and see them as they are and not as you wish they would be. Those parents could be very talented at a sport but that does not mean their child will be. And do remember that part of the skills needed to be proficient on a team is the attention span and the ability to understand rules of the game, plus the unwritten social rules of being a team player. You are also going to need a coach who works well with the neurodivergent group or risk harm to your child’s self-concept in an already tumultuous life of trying to fit in.

A reference was made to another article in Nemours KidsHealth with ideas for kids who don’t feel comfortable with the usual organized sports. It really gets creative and stretches outside the box of the usual team sports and has more unique ideas for those who aren’t natural athletes and need other outlets. Check out some of their ideas for activities that can boost fitness and fun:

  • Horseback riding
  • Dance classes
  • Fencing
  • Hiking
  • Inline skating
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Golf

Lifehacker suggested other considerations such as classic recess games like kickball, tag or four-square. Or maybe set up an obstacle course or find a location with a rock-climbing wall. If they love nature, take them on a scenic hike.

And remember to try and be open-minded as your child is finding their sweet spot. It will be worth the time and effort to enable them to have a lifetime habit of being active and enjoying it at the same time. 



Katherine Jahnke
ADHD Coach | Center For Living Well with ADHD, LLC

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