Transition from Play to Work: 3 Tips to Keep Your Kids Active

“I wish I liked anything as much as my kids like bubbles.”

-Pete, Knocked Up

I’m constantly jealous of the joy that kids get from playing. They run, they jump, they climb, they swing – all for fun. If I went through that same regimen that would be a major workout.

When does play become work? Often as kids get deeper into school, and recess turns to PE (read: work). People have a tendency to resent what’s mandated, and it’s the same for kids and fitness; once we tell them they must play they don’t want to any more.

Here are 3 ways to help keep fitness fun:

1. Find something they love

I know there’s a lot to be said about keeping kids to the commitments that they make, but if they hate soccer after a season then keep looking. Maybe it will be rock climbing or rugby (two of my personal favorites). Make sure that you keep your mind open, because fitness may come in an unorthodox package: I’ve worked with kids whose primary fitness outlet is paintball.

2. Don’t pressure them

It’s becoming more common for parents to push their kids into more and more activities, and that’s awesome. It becomes a problem when that pressure becomes a burden, and you turn from parent to coach. Not only does that create resentment it makes the game less enjoyable because of the pressure to perform. Oh and as a side note, don’t push your kids to lose weight, that kind of encouragement can cause lifelong eating disorders.

3. Learn to love what they love

Find that delicate balance between being overly involved and supportive. This is mot important in the early stages of the transition from recess to PE, which means you’re going to be learning a lot of different games – Especially if you follow rule #1. Some of the most successful, fit, and happy young athletes I’ve worked with have parents who are at as many games as possible cheering their hearts out.

The most important thing that you can do for your kids’ health and fitness is to help them keep their love of movement. Once they stop liking what they’re doing it’s an uphill battle.

P.S. Turn off the video games, ok?

This article was written expressly for Tiny Green Mom by Kian, an A.C.E. certified Personal Trainer and STOTT Trained Pilates instructor, who is finishing his masters in Kinesiology. He made his transition from “fat kid” to fitness professional, and it’s his passion to help as many people as possible reach their fitness goals. Kian has worked with Middle school and High school athletes as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. He is currently the owner of Ameli Training in Concord CA, and runs a health and fitness blog at

*Image found on Flickr.*