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Being a parent is both a tremendous blessing and a wonderful challenge.

Even though we might only hear about the obstacles of parenthood in the media, parents can make a big difference by simply being involved in their children's lives. When it comes to academics, parent involvement is a must, but when it comes to staying active, parent influence is just as important.

Nutrition and Smart Shopping

First, there is the health and nutrition part. It is up to parents to pay attention to the nutritional value of the foods their kids are consuming. Be mindful of nutrition when you are shopping. Understand that each trip to the grocery store is an opportunity to benefit your child's overall health.

Think about the meals you typically prepare for your family at home. Sometimes it may be more expensive or more time consuming to eat healthy. But, consider the health benefits of eating right for both you and your child in the long run. Children are known to follow by example, so if mom and dad make eating healthy fun...then the kiddos will want to, too!

Good Sportsmanship and Trying Again

Next, there is sports and coaching. As a parent, or relative, you always want the best for your kids and to make sure they have everything they need to succeed. There is a wonderful quote from Vince Lombardi, "the greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall." For parents, watching their kids fail can be the hardest thing in the world—but it doesn't have to be. Let them learn from their own mistakes in a reasonable manner. When it comes to sports and coaching, know when to let your kiddos fall down and pick themselves back up.

As a coach for the past 6 years in multiple sports and age levels, I have seen it all. However, I've found that it is the parents who understand the importance of teaching their kids to learn from their mistakes that provide some of the best support. I am always striving to improve my ability to provide support for my students and athletes, but one thing that is pretty universal with this generation, is positive reinforcement. Give your child a positive compliment and explain how he or she can do it better…don't just write them off for lacking the right skills or athleticism. It is always better to lead by example by providing corrective feedback that can really motivate them to go at it again and try for that success.

Try New Things (or Old Things)

Lastly, there is that parental comfort zone. Try new things with your children. Seek out a new activity or learn a new skill with your child or play a game with them that you haven't played since childhood. Like the variation on Tag below. Figure out ways you can assist them to be more successful without coddling them or taking away from their hard work. One wise person told me, never stop learning. Even as an adult, try and learn something new every day. Younger generations in my opinion are getting away from the "work hard, play hard" mindset. Reinforcing a good work ethic at home is something I'm sure your child's teachers and coaches would appreciate!

How to Play Storm Chasers Tag

The Lil Chasers and I came up with this variation of tag to play with Stormy at Werner Park. Our thanks to the Omaha Storm Chasers for the inspiration! 

Here's how to play! Grab a group of kids and some other parents and play this variation on a childhood favorite. Pick one or two people to be the Tornadoes (taggers) and one or two other people to be the Storm Chasers (untaggers). When a Tornado tags someone the tagged person has to spin around and sit down until a Storm Chasers untags them, and they can move again. The game is over when everyone is frozen or you're all worn out.

I appreciate any feedback and conversation you may have. Please leave any comments or questions below!

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Andrew Mantzaris

Andrew is a certified physical education instructor in Omaha, Nebraska. His desire is to help every child become a "lifelong mover" by teaching the fundamentals about body movement while making it fun in the process. In his class, you could be playing numerous variations of tag activities, learning sports related skills, doing body weight exercises or testing out some new dance moves. He is committed to making life long moving accessible to all ages and skill levels by coaching h ...

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