ACTIVE: Parenting hacks for fit and healthy kids

Encourage your children to lead an active lifestyle for years to come

So your kids are stuck with their nose in an iPad? That’s no surprise given society’s over dependence on technology these days, but how will it affect your child’s future?

Now we’re not saying they need to become gym rats or muscle heads as early as possible – unless of course you’re training them to be Olympic-ready from a young age like the 11-year-old weightlifter Elle Hatamiya, whose video (below) went viral and is now a social media star.

But obesity among kids is a real problem in today’s world, and one that needs to fixed.

Rafat Shawe, professional MMA fighter based in Dubai, explains why getting children in to fitness is crucial, even at the age of five.

If you’re struggling to get your kids active, it’s time to engage them in fitness to instil a habit for life.

“We need to get kids off their phones, computers and game consoles and fitness is one of the best things for them to get into,” explains Rafat.

“In my experience when kids develop healthy good habits in early life it sets them up very well for their whole lifetime. It teaches them discipline and not only do they lead a healthier lifestyle, but I find it helps them stay away from developing other bad habits such as smoking and over eating too.”

 

Whatever makes them happy

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You don’t need to force your kids to get in to a sport or activity they don’t like doing, there will be something they enjoy and to them, all that matters is that they’re having fun.

“Just get your child active and find something that they enjoy and that makes them happy and let them stick to it.”

“I suggest letting your child try a few things, and then see what sticks – just let them follow their heart and passions,” Rafat adds.

But besides the healthy and fit lifestyle that fitness brings about, it is also “one of the greatest drivers of confidence and self worth, which is one of the most valuable assets we can have after our health, so is to be encouraged in our children at all times.”

 

Be a role model

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Parents play a key role in their child’s fitness and future. Rafat suggests parents try to lead a good example for their kids, as well as playing sports or other activities together whenever they can.

“We’re all busy, but parents need to make sure their kids are active and encourage doing activities together such as swimming, trampolining or playing football in the park when the weather is good,” explains Rafat.

When it comes to being a good role model, it’s not just about being successful and having good manners, but also being active in front of your children, and showing your support.

“If a child sees their parent sitting watching Netflix all the time or on their phone lying on the sofa, this becomes their role model and that is unacceptable.”

 

Obesity in Dubai

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The grave reality is that it’s not only adults that are dealing with obesity in our city.

“UAE has issues with obesity in adults and kids alike. When I walk around the malls and out and about in Dubai and with all the knowledge we have I am genuinely shocked at how many obese children I see,” says Rafat.

But the problem is caused by everything – including parents, schools and lack of outdoor activities.

“I find that very few people are well educated on food and nutrition and when parents are poorly educated this lack of knowledge is subsequently inherited by their kids who make poor food choices.”

Just like fitness, kids pick up their habits and what is acceptable from their parents, so educating on the right food choices is essential – and that means educating the nannies too if they’re deciding what your kids eat.

He adds: “I hear many stories about parents sending kids to school with cold KFC or junk food for lunch. There are always healthier options however time poor you are, and you need to start your child off right.”

Rafat Shawe trains kids over the age of five in general fitness and martial arts based training including kickboxing and karate. For more info, email rafat_shawe@yahoo.com or call 050 4954446 or visit  www.facebook.com/RafatShaweTrainer 

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