We all know that children are unique and exceptional in multiple ways. Personalities, even among children within the same family, vary widely and are what make each child individually special. Their inherent personalities help our children identify with who they are, what they will pursue in life, and how they will go about it.
This is true even in the realm of health and fitness. Exercise is essential to children’s overall well being. It improves sleep patterns, builds muscle strength, helps develop coordination, improves posture, enhances concentration, reduces stress and anxiety, and boosts self-esteem. Understanding your child’s fitness personality will help you encourage and support them to be active, stay healthy, and meet fitness goals. What we teach them about health and fitness as children will evolve into their habits as adults.
There are three basic fitness personality types. Each one has its own characteristics and most effective ways to be encouraged and nurtured.
The non-athlete also can be thought of as the sedentary child. More interested in reading, playing video games, or simply being indoors, the non-athlete doesn’t have a particular interest in being active and likely lacks physical acumen or ability. Competition, whether against an opponent or challenging themselves for physical betterment, does not register with them. They will go outside for recess and participate in PE class, but more often because they have to rather than they want to. This type of child will need more encouragement and guidance to get moving and stay moving. It is beneficial to make physical activity fun or game-like for their participation. This is the child that will benefit from exercising with you or friends rather than be expected to do it independently.
He or she likes to play sports and actively engages as part of a team or two. He regularly shows up for practice and completes the workouts with little complaint. He contributes to the team and holds his own, but generally does not shine as the star of the team. Casual athletes love to play, but the game is more about having fun with their friends than anything else. These children are easy to inspire and are usually easily guided to try a new sport or activity. Give them plenty of opportunities and encourage them to have fun and try their best.
These kids are the natural competitors. They are inherently more agile, faster, and/or stronger than their peers. They catch on to a sport quickly and excel at it. They need little encouragement and are naturally motivated to try their best and challenge themselves to get better. They thrive on competition and are always up for the next challenge. They have an instinctual competitive nature and determination to push themselves to the next level. These children don’t necessarily need encouragement to work hard, but they may need support to juggle the many facets of being children, students, and athletes.
Understanding which of these personalities your child has will help you best encourage them and teach them good healthy habits. What we instill in them as children stays with them as they grow into independent adults. If they are taught to be active and fit as children, they are much more likely to carry these habits over into adulthood for a balance of lifetime fitness.