Kids naturally love to run, as well as skip, hop, dance and turn somersaults. Parents can turn their natural exuberance and need to move into a lifelong enjoying of running by making it fun.

Five Ideas to Promote Running to Children

Here are five ways you can set the foundation that will help them enjoy running for a lifetime.

#1. Make every run a fun run.

Drills and warm-up routines are great for the high school track team. They are totally out of place with children who are just becoming acquainted with running as a sport.

You can add to the fun factor by running with your children. They love to do things with their parents, getting one-on-one attention and sharing a grown-up activity with you.

Here are more tips from Runner’s World to add variety to the runs for your children:

  • Move your runs to different parks in the area.
  • Have a picnic after your run.
  • Schedule special runs for holidays.
  • Set up an obstacle course.
  • Coordinate a run with a game like Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light.
  • Cheer the runners and have the kids cheer each other and give each other high fives and chest bumps.

#2. Make it social.

The chance to run with their parents is a key motivator for most children. In addition, run with other parents and children from the neighborhood, school, Scouts or other group.

Set up team challenges to keep it interesting and help the children get a feeling of belonging. Have them choose team colors and buy t-shirts for them.

#3. Give them bragging rights.

Take your child to a local kids fun run. If they express interest, sign them up for the next one. Or if you can’t find one close by, sign up your child for a virtual 5K. Either way, they will proudly wear their bib and medal so everyone can congratulate them.

Though they want to be like mom and dad, it is important that they take ownership of their runs and races. It is essential that it’s your child’s decision about entering a race. Work with them before the race, taking them out on practice runs.

#4. Build in success.

If your child is always last, they aren’t going to be motivated to continue running. But you can build success into their everyday runs as a way to keep them interested.

The most important part is to use a running program that increases the distance and speed very slowly. When you run with your child, praise them during all phases of their running routine. If they pace themselves well, tell them. If they ran a distance faster than before, tell them how well they did. Sincere, honest praise works wonders for their confidence and interest.

#5. Everyone loves swag.

Kids love t-shirts, water bottles and medals as much as adults do. You don’t have to wait for a race. Offer a sweat band for finishing a long run for the week. Get a small monster toy from the Dollar Store if they successfully complete an obstacle course.

Don’t give the awards too often and make sure they are earned. If given out too freely, they will soon lose their ability to motivate.

Running helps keep kids and adults healthy, active, alert and social. By getting your child interested in running as a sport now, you are giving him a gift for lifelong health. You can do it by participating with them, praising them and keeping them motivated.