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Cindy Dennis

Executive Director

5 Tactics for Motivating Children to Be Healthy

Many children, even from a young age, are aware of what behaviors are good for them. However, the true challenge comes with encouraging your children to follow through with the behaviors you’ve taught them. If you feel your lessons go in one ear and out the other, you may need to reconsider your strategy. Cindy Dennis Ministries presents five tactics you can use to help motivate your children to practice healthy behaviors.

Develop a Relationship

If you struggle to find time to spend with your children or often rely on scolding and controlling them to manage bad behaviors, your relationship with your kids may suffer. Children are more likely to listen to you and trust your lead if you first establish a strong relationship as a foundation. Take time to show affection to your children and do activities with them just for fun. Say you love them often and show them mutual respect.

Present New Challenges

Set challenges for children that inspire their sense of adventure and fulfill their need for achievement. Be realistic in your expectations for your children, and make the challenges more difficult in increments; you want to find a balance in encouraging children to try something out of their comfort zone while not pushing them too hard. Help your kids find new healthy activities, such as sports, instruments, or educational pursuits, that they enjoy and motivate them to work hard towards an achievable goal.

Model Goal-Setting

Demonstrate in your own life what it looks like to set a goal and work towards achieving it. For instance, you can set a new health goal, such as running a marathon, and let your children see you train for it over time. If you’ve always wanted to start your own business, you can finally pursue an MBA to further your knowledge of business management or accounting. Or, you can work toward a health information technology degree and get a job in the medical field.

It can be difficult to find balance while studying for school and being a parent, but online programs give you the flexibility to pursue your passions from the comfort of your home. Be open with your kids through the process. Talk with them about their own dreams and help them identify ways they can make their goals become a reality.

Use Incentives Wisely

While extrinsic motivation can help inspire children in the short term, studies point to intrinsic motivation as being a more powerful tool for encouraging behaviors. While a reward system can help kids first learn to use the bathroom on their own or to pick up running, kids eventually need to transition to engaging in beneficial activities without a prize.

Praise Effort

Receiving praise can help develop your child’s self-esteem, but only applauding children when they ace a test or win a competition can cause them to become obsessed with performance. Commend your child whenever you notice the effort and offer constructive conversations when goals are not met.

Often, the best methods for motivating children go beyond just teaching and telling them to do what’s best for them. Examine your current strategy and consider new ways you can inspire your children to grow and develop healthy behaviors that will set them up for success.


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