Table of Contents - June 2007
Feature Article: “Five Tips
for Getting Fit as a Family!”
A Good Read: “The Tween Years”
Free Time: Bouncing the Red Ball
Positive Discipline Methods: Make it a Game
Get Fit as a Family! Here are Five Tips.
So many of us
struggle to keep up an exercise program. We
start out strong and then peter out. I thought
it would be interesting to look at ways to
incorporate fitness into our everyday life and
to focus on ways we can do this as a family.
I interviewed Howie Jacobson, the director of
www.fitfam.com , who has a Ph.D. in health
education. Jacobson’s goal is to help parents
who are struggling to get fit and to raise fit
kids in a crazy, busy world. Howie has some fun
ideas that I’d love to share with you.
Q. What barriers do you think hold parents
back from exercising?
A. There are no barriers, really, unless someone
has a physical disability. Some people think
they have to join the gym to get fit and others
start running. The problem is that 70% of people
quit within three months of joining a gym and
most runners start strong, but drop off unless
they’re in a running group. The point of
exercise should be to move your body in
pleasurable ways to develop fitness.
Q. Your view is that parents tend to think
of fitness as being exclusive of family rather
than inclusive of family. What do you mean by
A. Most people think of exercise as separate
from their real life. While their body may be at
the gym, their mind is somewhere else. We need
to take care of our bodies for the rest of our
life and embed fitness into our life as much as
possible. If exercise is something we check off
on our to-do list, it becomes a chore.
Q. On your blog, you say that “wildness is
a path to wellness and happiness.” Please
A. Let me give you an example. There was a kids’
party in our neighborhood and the kids were
having a blast jumping in a giant inflatable,
running in the meadow and playing ball. All of
the parents were standing around stiffly
watching with their arms folded. So I started
playing with the kids and the other parents were
staring at me. I want to give parents permission
to be happy anytime and to just live with joy
like kids do.
Q. You have five tips for making fitness
fun and getting in shape as a family. What are
the five tips?
A. Tip #1: Indoor dance party.
I recommend that parents take this step
privately, in their homes. Just put on danceable
music and go at it with complete abandonment.
Dance with your kids and you’ll get exercise.
Tip #2: Chase games.
I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like these
games. Play tag or hide and seek or go to a
playground with them. I can guarantee you that
10 minutes of this type of activity is a better
work out than going to the gym.
Tip #3: Play any sports or games.
Play catch, football, basketball, lacrosse, or
any other sport, but really engage with your
child when you do it. Try to come up with 10
ways to make the activity more fun. The kids
will have more fun if you have fun, too. Seize
the moment and take your cue from them. They
will remind you that your body can bring you
Tip # 4: Go out in nature.
We live in a weird society where we survive on
brains rather than our bodies. I think it is
healing and necessary to go out in nature and
use your body again to hike, walk in the river
or climb trees. We need to connect to the source
of life and if we do, we’ll grow spiritually and
Tip # 5: Look to the circus.
Be the strong man and bench press your kids or
twirl them like an airplane. Try to stand on
your hands. Do pistols (one-legged squats) with
your kids and add challenges. Your kids will be
better than you and they’ll love it.
Q. You state that environment is a key
factor for being successful in meeting fitness
goals. Tell us more about that.
A. Environment is a big factor. You want to set
up your environment to make it easy to get
exercise. For instance, I put straps on a door.
I have space to do push-ups. I have a medicine
ball I can toss and play with and I have space
for doing lunges.
Q. What other ideas can you share?
A. I have tons of examples on my website,
under the “whee” section. I blog and take videos
about ideas I’ve used with my kids. I’m not big
on equipment, but some things that can make it
fun are medicine balls, a jump rope, tubing and
a power wheel (which are available at Lifeline).
Anything that you can do with your kids that
creates a mindset of play will work.
And start small. Do just one thing for two
minutes with your kids that you both like. Make
it easy and if it works, do it for four minutes
the next time.
Jacobson’s website is:
Positive Discipline Options
This idea comes
from the June, 2007 issue of Parents. The
article, “The Fun Mom’s Guide to Discipline” has
ideas for kids who don’t listen, don’t share,
ransack drawers, are ungracious gift openers or are
silly in the wrong places.
The idea is that you look at a situation that has
been troublesome for your child, or that you
anticipate will be a problem. Then you create a game
to teach the child a better response and play it
before the event occurs.
So, for instance, if it’s your child’s birthday and
you’re afraid that s/he might say something
awful/embarrassing about a gift that s/he receives
you could play the “Gracious Gift Opener” game
before the big day. The writer, Jody Mace, suggests
having everyone in the family wrap up a truly awful
“gift” like an old sponge or a partially used bar of
soap. Then you gather as a family and open up each
of the awful gifts and try to come up with something
nice to say like “The green on that sponge matches
my shirt!” so your child gets in the practice of
saying nice things under the worst circumstances.
Then, it’s more likely that your child will be able
to come up with a positive comment when Granny gives
him paisley underpants.
For more fun ideas, you can go to
classes from the comfort of home! You'll join other
parents, via telephone, for parenting tips and a
lively discussion all while sitting in your favorite
armchair! There's no need to waste time driving to
classes when you participate
from home or your office in a 'teleclass.'
Esteem Boosters Any Child Can Benefit From”
Positive self-esteem is a
critical factor in the development of all children.
While self-esteem is a complex matter, this
class will provide concrete tools to help your child
feel confident and capable. Practical suggestions
to help your child grow stronger in five areas will
be provided. Mon., June 18, 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET,
6 p.m. MT, 5 p.m. PT) Register at:
“Relief for Homework Headaches”
– Wed., June 13, 7:30 p.m. Crossroads Elementary
“Siblings Without Rivalry”
– Tues., June 19, 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., Wells
Toni offers 17 different parent
education classes. If you’d like to book Toni at
your company or organization, please go to: http://www.familiesfirstcoaching.com/Pages/Speakerspage.html
A Good Read
Each month a parent
provides a review of a parenting book they've
enjoyed. Please e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org to share a good
read with other parents.
“The Tween Years” by Donna
“I really liked this
book because it’s very straightforward and it has
lots of ideas to try and charts that are helpful.
The book is meant for parents with kids ages 10-13
years old and it helped me realize that my daughter
is doing exactly what she’s supposed to be doing! It
also helped me to see that if I take the time and
energy right now to handle attitude problems or
anger issues or boundary violations that we’ll have
fewer problems when she hits the teen years.
One of the issues she noted to be “normal” was
talking back. The child is trying to define who she
is and is questioning your values and how hers may
differ from yours. However, you have to draw the
line to find a balance between self expression and
Another important idea is to back off and let the
child learn from her own mistakes. We shouldn’t try
to solve all of our child’s problems for her, but
let her stumble sometimes. The author also offers a
chapter on problem solving strategies to use with
your child to help her explore options and
Issues like chores, curfew, boy/girl relationships,
clothes and body image, hair, friendships, messy
rooms, homework and organization are all covered in
the book. I found it very helpful!” Julie Ledy,
What does your family
do for fun that doesn’t cost a lot of money? Please
share your ideas.
"One of my daughters
went on a walk with me and brought a huge, red
plastic ball along. She was bouncing it as we went
and I thought we would feel more connected if we
bounced it back and forth while we walked. It turned
out to be really fun because we’d see how high we
could bounce it, we’d try to bounce it off the other
person’s head and then we tried bouncing it over the
person so we’d have to run farther and faster to
catch it. This ties into just what Howie Jacobson
was saying in the lead article. Follow your child’s
lead and you can turn almost any activity in a fun
Toni Schutta, Publisher, Families First Coaching Newsletter
Toni Schutta is a Parent Coach with a Master's
Degree in Psychology and 12 years experience working
with children and families. She's also the mother of
two wonderful children, a Licensed Psychologist, a
certified graduate of the Mentor Coach Foundations
Program and a member of the International Coach
Families First Coaching
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