One Step At a Time: Helping Young Children Be Active!

Ideas to Motivate Children to Be Physically Active

This table includes ideas for child care providers to share with parents and other family members to motivate children to be physical active.2–4



Be flexible

Provide choices for physical activities, like riding a bike, scooter, or tricycle; dancing; or playing games like Simon Says or tag, and let children decide what to do.

Be creative

If it’s raining, fill the bathtub with water and let your child kick, or turn on music and have a dance party.

Encourage independence

Let your child do things for herself, for example, let her climb into the child safety seat.

Provide toys

Give your child toys that encourage physical activity, like balls, a kite, and a jump rope.

Create special times

Make “special times” that involve physical activities. Spend time together doing a fun physical activity, for example family park day, bike day, or swim day.

Give incentives

Reward your child with things other than food or screen time (for example, stickers, certificates, or pictures of himself jumping and hopping) for being physically active.

Be a role model

Lead by example and be physically active yourself.

Ask for family support

Ask grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other family members to encourage your child to be physically active and join in the fun. Children who feel supported by family members or are surrounded by those who enjoy physical activity are more likely to be physically active.

Involve the family

Go on a walk or bike ride, dance to music, or create a scavenger hunt (set up clues throughout the neighborhood, and divide the family into teams).

Show new activities

Show your child new activities. Children may be more willing to try activities if they see other family members enjoying them.


Happy Family




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