Getting Fit, Bit by Bit: Change Your Motivating Tactics

If you let on that you're overhauling the meals your kids eat and the daily exercise they get, they're likely to dig in their heels. So change the way you approach it.

The case to be made to a kid is not diabetes prevention, Katz says, "it's having more fun later today." Show your children that good food will give them more energy, and that being active can be fun.

Another activity motivator for many children is extra time with Mom or Dad, says Dana Weintraub, M.D., of the Center for Healthy Weight at Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University. Entice kids with an after-dinner family walk or a backyard soccer game. Being on a team with other kids is also a big draw. "When we ask the kids what they enjoy about sports, 'new friends' is up there very high," Weintraub says.

Take a democratic approach when it comes to food issues, Katz advises. "You need to engage your kids so that they do not sabotage this effort," he says. This means negotiation, and even taste tests, so that you can all agree on new food choices. Otherwise, your kids might just sneak their junk food in elsewhere.

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