How can I encourage my child to be more active?

Under 10s

Young children (under 10 years) tend to be fairly physically active. Often it’s more difficult to get them to sit still for 5 minutes! They usually prefer shorter activities that take the form of play or a game. This is a great time for children to experiment with lots of different sports and physical activities. When they get older they may be less willing to try new things. The key is to make physical activities fun.

Top 5 tips:

  1. Young children usually respond very positively to praise, so it’s really important for parents/carers to give them encouragement
  2. Provide opportunities for your children to be active as often as you can. For example, by visiting parks, beaches, leisure centres etc.
  3. Do something active as a family at least once a week. Weekends are usually the best time to get out and about as a family. Try going on a family walk or bike-ride or playing Frisbee, football or French cricket in the garden, or at a park or beach.
  4. Set a good example! If you regularly take part in sporting activities then your child will grow up understanding that physical activity is a normal, fun part of life. This helps to create a positive attitude towards being active.
  5. Help your child to keep an ‘Activity Log’ (provided in their booklet). This will help you to see if they are achieving the level of activity recommended by their cardiologist. It can also be a fun way of motivating your child to be more active!

11-18s

Many studies have shown that most young people do less and less physical activity as they go through the teenage years. However, this is a time in our lives when physical activity is particularly important for our long-term health.

Top 5 tips:

  1. Help them to find activities that they really enjoy
  2. Encourage them to join after-school/weekend clubs. Most young people are more likely to participate in activities if it involves socialising with friends.
  3. When discussing physical activity participation with their cardiologist and cardiac specialist nurses ensure that your child is involved. It’s important that they get the opportunity to ask questions and to begin to become more involved in their health care.
  4. Avoid nagging them. This may have unwanted results, making them think of physical activity as something to be avoided
  5. Remember to give them praise and encouragement. Teenagers may not always show that they appreciate this, but almost everyone responds positively to encouragement.

It is very important that schools are fully informed about a pupil’s heart condition. The school will have a policy in place that sets out how it provides for children with long-term medical conditions.

For most pupils with a heart condition it is usually appropriate for the school to develop an individual ‘Health Care Plan’. This is the school’s responsibility, but the parents/carers will usually play a key role in the process.

A Health Care Plan is a form which sets out:

  • the details of a pupil’s medical condition
  • how medication will be managed/administered (if relevant)
  • daily care requirements
  • what to do in the event of a medical emergency
  • contact details of the family and the clinic/hospital

The development of a Health Care Plan may require input from:

  • the parents or carers
  • the child (if appropriate)
  • healthcare professionals (cardiologist/cardiac liaison nurse/cardiac nurse specialist, GP)
  • the School Medical Officer and other medical centre staff
  • school staff with pastoral responsibility (tutor/head of year/ DMS child protection)

The Health Care Plan should be updated every year, or if there is a relevant change in the heart condition.

Last Updated: September 8, 2016