Multiple children of various races running around together in the summer on a grassy field


5 tips to improve your child’s behavior at home and school

  • Three quarters of children in the United States are not active for the recommended 60 minutes a day.
  • Research shows children who engage in physical activity regularly have a better academic performance.
  • There are simple ways to incorporate effective movement into your child’s everyday routine.

Kids need to move! It’s good for their bodies and helps lower their risk for illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Beyond the physical benefits, exercise helps our children excel academically.

Research shows regular exercise improves self-regulation among students with behavioral health disorders, and all children between six and twelve pay attention better after being physically active. It’s time to make movement a priority for our children's mental and physical health, as well as their education.

Aim for an hour of exercise:

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each day for kids.

Unlike our grandparents’ generation, most kids today aren’t doing morning chores and then walking at least a mile to school (you’ve heard the stories) before sitting down in front of a teacher. Today, many of our children only have time to make the bed and wash their breakfast dishes before riding the bus to school. I’m not saying we need to return to the past, but there’s an opportunity to ensure exercise remains a priority for our children.

5 ways to incorporate exercise into your child’s daily routine:

  1. Reduce screen time. Make a schedule that includes a specific amount of screen time so they know exactly how much they’re getting.
  2. Give your children chores they can handle, such as helping to carry the groceries and carrying the trash in and out.
  3. Let them release energy before or after school. They can run around the house three times or the entire family can walk around the neighborhood together.
  4. Engage them in pretend play. As adults, we sometimes forget how fun pretend play can be and how important it is to a child’s development. Let them make up the games and scenarios, as well as create their own rules.
  5. If you can, join an organization like the local YMCA. Playing sports and engaging with children outside of school is also great for development.

If we give our children the opportunity to move and regulate, we help them prioritize their health, focus more in school and behave better. I hope you’ll give some of these tips a try or create your own solutions. If you need help, occupational therapists are here for you. Our job is to help people of all ages navigate daily life to the best of their ability.


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