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This 'Let's Move!' Ad Isn't Going to Get Kids Moving
"Let's Move!" has an ad campaign running that should be called "Let's Lie!"
A mom is in the kitchen when her daughter, age about 11, calls down from the stairway, "Can I have a dollar?" The mom sees her wallet right there on the counter next to her, but smiles to herself and yells to her kid to look upstairs. Then downstairs. Then up in another bedroom. Then down in the dining room. Then through all of the closets upstairs and down until finally the girl comes into the kitchen and sees the wallet has been sitting there the whole time.
In the ad, it's a cute moment. In real life, I just don't know a lot of kids who'd grin, "Thanks for the wild goose chase, Mom! I love being tricked!"
But, amazingly, lying to your kids isn't even the most galling thing about this ad. What's worse is the idea that it is up to us parents to come up with endless clever ways to get our kids moving. Let's see ... this little ruse was good for maybe a minute's worth of mild exercise? Now all a mom has to do is come up with another 59 pointless tasks and her kid will have an hour's worth of cardio. (And a lifetime's worth of therapy material.)
"Mom was here!" the ad exults, but that's exactly the problem. Why is Mom expected to come up with activities for a girl who is clearly old enough to entertain herself? Why doesn't she just tell her to go outside and play? It worked for our moms! But the new idea of a "good" mother is one who is always involved. A constant companion. Some might say: a helicopter.
That's ironic because one of the reasons kids are so sedentary -- and chubby -- is that we keep them glued to our sides. If we don't let them ride their bikes around the nabe, or walk to school, or play in the park, of course they are going to be stuck inside. And we are stuck trying to prod them off the couch.
"Let's Move!" seems to believe our kids are unsafe having an old-fashioned childhood, even though FBI stats show there is less crime today than when we were kids running around in the '70s and '80s.
Until the campaign embraces the idea that kids can get moving on their own, they won't. They'll get fat and we'll feel guilty.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.