A Healthy Dose of Peer Influence
Kids between 2 and 5 are at home more, where mom and dad can have a greater influence on their eating habits and activity level. But once kids hit school, that parental influence becomes increasingly replaced by peer influence.
Put a group of 7 year olds in a room with a bag of chips and a bowl of apples and we can all guess which snack will be consumed by the time you come back. But, is this because the chips are tastier or because everyone else is doing it?
Peer pressure is, understandably, a negative phrase, so we like to think of its opposite as peer influence: when kids are encouraged by each other for a positive cause. When a child sees his or her friends leading healthy lifestyles, peer influence can be the trigger that kicks off the cure to childhood obesity.
Introducing schools to a program that promotes health and wellness in a fun, unifying way shows kids that exercising and eating right are not simply what parents and teachers want, but what their friends want as well.
Teaching in groups, getting kids involved and keeping it fun is all for one purpose: so the teaching is memorable and the lessons are fresh in their minds each time they recall the experience.
Part of the success schools have had from teaming up with The Get Movin’ Crew for their fundraising efforts is the level of involvement shown by the student body. Why? Because we don’t ask kids to go peddle junk food door-to-door, we ask them to share an experience with their friends. Athon fundraisers include:
- A Fun Atmosphere. We’re talking music, cheers, bright colors, dancing and moving for a cause! Simply providing a fun atmosphere can make any experience memorable.
- A Balance of Unity & Competition. Fun Runs and other athon events include the entire student body, but there are groups of grades and classes working as teams. Everyone is working toward a healthy cause that supports the school, but there is also friendly competition during the run that keeps students motivated as teams and as individuals.
- Support. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that healthy experiences are for kids alone. The more you’re involved the more the kids get involved. For Fun Runs and other athons, this means cheering from the sidelines, waiting at the finish line, and continuing the health education at home.
If you want to be involved in changing the reality of childhood obesity, your job as an adult is to lead by example, educate in fun ways, and create the experiences that will leave lasting impressions.
Created with images by Ari Sherbill - "Eden turns 5…with a lolipop" • Myles Tan - "untitled image" • Anna Samoylova - "untitled image"