Q: How can I encourage my 12-year-old to start exercising? I’ve been trying to get him to become more active for years, but he refuses to start swimming lessons because he will be too far behind other kids his age, hates team sports and has no interest in going out to kick a ball around after dinner. He’s starting to get a weight problem and I’m concerned.
A: The challenge here is to find something that interests him. Tell him he needs to do something active, but it can be anything he wants. If he’s interested in swimming, but concerned about being behind the others, try to find a class of older beginners or arrange private sessions so he can get up-to-speed with the other kids. Don’t use his weight as a reason for exercise. Let him know that everyone needs to be active.
It’s normal for 12-year-old boys to develop breasts and softness around the middle until they get a little older and their body hardens up. If you usually drive him places, stop. Give him the choice of walking or taking his bike. Also, is he seeing you being active? Modelling is the best way of teaching our kids how to behave.