Improve Your Child’s Behavior Through ExercisePhysical Activity May Have a Positivity Influence

Many of us already know about the physical benefits of exercise. But did you know studies find that regular exercise can improve behavioral issues, thinking, learning, and understanding in children?  

According to a review of 13 studies, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who were 16 and under, benefited from a wide range of physical activities. Meanwhile, a different study found that individuals with ASD and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) between the ages of three and 25 showed improved brain functioning following exercise. Yet another study found that low- to medium-intensity exercise in children with autism reduced repetitive self-stimulatory behaviors including hand flapping, body rocking, sudden runs and spinning in circles.  

To encourage your child to get moving, check out these helpful tips below:  

Play to Your Child’s Interests and Preferences  

Let your child pick an activity or set of activities they like to do, whether it’s going for a walk, playing hopscotch, riding a bike or dancing to music. Tailor the amount of time your child is up for like five to 10 minutes, two or three times a day or 20–30 minutes once a day. And make it fun! If your child’s having a good time, then they’re more likely to keep it up.  

Schedule Exercise Into the Day  

Don’t leave physical activity to chance. Make it a daily intentional practice to get your child moving. If they’re dragging their feet, use a reinforcer such as, “If you do this activity, then you can have a [fill in favorite healthy snack].” Alternatively, you can negotiate allowing them to have TV or computer screen time in exchange for getting their exercise in for the day.  

Set Up Specific Goals  

Give your child specific goals, such as doing three different exercises like jumping jacks, bunny jumps or a ball toss 10-20 times each. Consider rewarding them to help positively reinforce good behavior. For example, each time they meet an exercise goal, they can earn a token. When they earn five tokens, they can exchange them for a toy.  

Exercise With Your Child  

Not only is it good to be a role model for your child, especially if they’re learning a new activity, but it’s also going to be a lot more fun for them if you join in and do it with them. Making exercise a family activity is a great way to associate physical recreation with positive experiences. Getting physically active will also help reduce stress levels and promote relaxation for both you and your child.