Toddlers are endless balls of energy most days and not always at the most wonderful of times. Especially being under quarantine, it seems like nothing I do can curb the energy of my 3.5 year old daughter.
I’ve always assumed that whatever she is doing, that HAS to be enough, right? At this age, it’s less about how much exercise your toddler gets as it is getting activated.
Toddlers are learning everyday about coordination and are all about learning new tricks to show you. These activities include running, hopping, kicking, throwing, and climbing. Every child develops at their own pace, so don’t force your child to do activities they aren’t comfortable doing – just give them opportunities to do it all.
We enrolled my daughter into dance class so that she could get rid of excess energy, but also start learning all of those fun gross motor skills that come along with learning dance.
There is no set amount of time for how long you should get your toddler to exercise. Unlike adults, who should be aiming for 30 minutes of activity a day, children don’t have a set time limit. So feel free to get them outside, running, jumping, and playing whenever they want or you feel that they need to release energy.
Children under the age of 5 should have several opportunities throughout the day to be active and get exercise. When taken to the park or playground, most kids will go from activity to activity with friends.
Attention spans may be short, as they are intrigued by every part of the apparatus, bug, or friend’s toy. This is normal. Don’t worry that there may be any issues! As they grow, they will learn to focus and attend to activities for longer periods of time!
Whether at the park, backyard, or large space in your home, toddlers should be able to be active several times a day with periods of rest in between. Your child’s body is working at a much higher metabolic rate than yours, building bones and muscles, and growing. They need the rest in between.
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Fun Activities to Do as a Family
While you may set a playdate with friends at the park once a day, you will need to find other opportunities for your toddler to get exercise to keep them active throughout the day.
Especially now when things aren’t allowed or large crowds should be avoided, you’ll need to rely on some old-fashioned games and activities to keep your kids busy and exercising.
One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to create family activities. This is a great way to help the whole family get the exercise everyone needs and bond as a family.
Five ideas for family activities that are age-appropriate for all include:
- Simon Says: A childhood favorite with lots of balancing, hopping, and dancing motions. Take turns being Simon.
- The Animal Challenge: Have everyone become their favorite animals such as a frog, penguin, or eagle. Imitate the way the animals walk, run, sound.
- Yoga: Invite your kids to do yoga with you. It will teach them how to control their body and mind.
- Dance Party: Have a dance party with everyone’s favorite music. Let everyone contribute to the playlist so that there is a song for everyone to go crazy.
- Ring Around the Rosy: Get in a circle, hold hands, go around, and around until they all fall down.
I also try to get my kids to do whatever I’m doing for exercise. For example, I do an online CrossFit class 3x per week. My daughter loves trying to lift the wall ball, doing squats, and pushups when she sees me doing them.
It’s a good way to foster the idea of being strong and healthy, while spending some quality time together. Make sure you give them plenty of high fives and commend them on any behavior that you see is good (e.g., following directions). It’ll give them the motivation and self-esteem to try new things further on down the road!
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