Show Them How
Want your child to eat her vegetables? Eat your vegetables. Get up and go for a walk together to show her that moving is fun. You’re the best role model your child can have. So start early. Kids begin to mimic their parents at a very young age. Resist the urge to bribe your child with food, toys, or other treats to cooperate. That teaches unhealthy habits.
Reward Them With Mom or Dad Time
Instead of bribing your child with video game or TV time (or anything where they’re just sitting), make active time together a reward. Go mini-golfing. Take a bike ride together. Or let your child plan a day full of active things they enjoy. Why this works: Kids crave your attention — especially if they have to share time with siblings. Never underestimate how much one-on-one attention means to your kids — even your teen.
Don’t Use Food as a Reward
Making sweets or junk food a prize teaches your kids to use food to fix their feelings. That can set them up for an unhealthy relationship with food. According to one study, adults who were rewarded and punished with food as kids were more likely to binge eat and diet. Withholding treats because of misbehavior — “No ice cream for you!” — isn’t good either. The forbidden food becomes more attractive.
Praise Effort, Not Just Results
Children need praise. If you want to motivate them, focus on their effort more than the end result. When your child shows you a picture he made, don’t just say it’s great. Praise him for how hard he worked on it. Note specific details. If your child is trying to learn a new sport, talk about how proud you are that he’s practicing kicks or running. Don’t focus on winning or losing a game.