It was easy to enroll Cynthia Brown’s daughter in martial arts and dance classes when she was younger. But as schoolwork started piling up and sedentary activities like texting and surfing the Internet became more the norm while regular physical activity became nonexistent, Brown grew concerned. She tried encouraging her daughter to join a sport or restart her dance classes but her daughter refused. “She would always tell me that she wasn’t good enough and that she didn’t feel comfortable moving in front of other people,” Brown said.
In a study released earlier this year by the American Heart Association, self-consciousness was the most commonly cited reason among children and teens for not exercising. Kids can feel self-conscious about exercise either because they’re overweight or because they feel like they’re uncoordinated or lack the skills necessary to play a team sport.
So what do you do when your kid is too self-conscious to get moving? We rounded up some of the best tips from experts around the country:
1. Start solo
Sandra Micken, a child psychologist practicing in Dillon, Montana suggests helping your self-conscious teen by choosing family activities that your child finds interesting but don’t involve much (if any) interaction with other children.
Micken suggests hiking or other outdoor activities as a family, gardening, or YouTube fitness videos. However, Micken says that it’s especially important to make sure that your child has a say in what kinds of activities he or she participates in. “As the child gets healthier with his/her family and gains confidence in his body, he can transition to other activities that involve people outside the family—but it’s really important that the child gets to choose what these are,” said Micken.