10 Rules to Keep Kids Active

Rule 7: Know When to Praise

Kids aren't stupid. Say your son whiffs at three pitches in a row. The modern parent often says, "Good try." But that type of hollow praise doesn't console him, or help him the next time he steps up to the plate. "Praise should be specific and authentic, as in, 'Good job juggling the ball 10 times. I see you've been practicing a lot. Your efforts have paid off,' " says Liston. "You should also mix instruction and encouragement when your child makes a mistake." Look for a teaching point, even on a strikeout. For instance, you might say, "Good eye on that second and third pitch. Keep swinging at pitches like those, and the hits will come."

Follow the 10 Commandments of Dad and raise happier, healthier children.

Rule 8: Make a Play Date With Friends

Remember the days of running around with the neighborhood kids from dawn until dusk? Wasn't that fun? Well, it's also an essential way to keep your kid in shape: UK researchers found that children who have an active, neighborhood playmate are two to three times more likely to be physically active themselves when compared to kids who don't live near a buddy.

More: How to Encourage Your Kids to be Active

Rule 9: But Don't Compare Your Kids With Others

Kids develop the coordination to run, catch, and throw at different rates, says Liston. The trouble is, they're often expected to perform at certain levels based solely on their ages. As a result, a child whose development is slower than average may never have the opportunity to catch up with his peers.

"If a kid tries to catch a baseball on the run before he's able to catch a beach ball while standing still, he won't have the tools he needs to be successful, says Liston. Unfortunately, many parents and coaches think the solution is for the child to try harder, when the real secret is backing up to a simpler task that the kid can improve upon.

Rule 10: Give Them Your Blessing

Encouraging your kids to participate in "vigorous" sports-like basketball and soccer-can cause your children to become more active, according to research in the journal Health Psychology. In the study, kids who received support from their parents were more likely to sign up for team sports (and less likely to spend their time sitting around) than the children who's parents didn't give them a push.

Obvious-and simple, right? Then what are you waiting for?

More: 7 Reasons to Keep Your Kids Active

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