No truer phrase has been spoken, especially when it comes to our children.
We know that how we treat our children today will have an effect on them in the future. This is most evident in the way we speak to and encourage them, but what about their physical growth and development? Are we actively helping and encouraging good physical development in our children?
Could the way children are using or not using their body today be setting them up to be emotionally and physically incapable adults? I think yes. So let’s look at a couple of key areas to work on…
Posture and positioning
Next time your child is watching TV or playing on the iPad spend 30 seconds noticing their positioning and posture and become aware of the following:
- Are they sitting on the ground?
- Are they cross-legged or have they got their leg/s out to the side?
- Are they sitting on or in a chair?
- Are they slouched with their head tilted down watching a handheld device or are they sitting with their head up?
There is nothing wrong with any of these positions short-term, however, if they adopt the exact same positions without much change hour after hour, day after day, that’s when bad posture and patterns may develop.
In reality, there is no such thing as a bad posture, the problem is when we only maintain a few postures constantly and the body becomes comfortable with these particular positions. This means every different movement and position from the ‘norm’ becomes harder to perform, creating limits of movement, physical growth and overall capability.
A good example of this is trying to use your toothbrush with your less dominant hand; it’s too hard to do because that hand isn’t familiar with the motion! It’s the same if we sit in the one position all the time with our head directed downward. Come time to look upward for extended periods of time, maybe trying to fly a kite, will feel difficult when in fact it should feel easy because the neck is designed to move that way. It’s not able to when it’s always in the opposite position and not enough movement variety is provided.
Down the track, all the limiting repetitive movements experienced during childhood can make everyday activities harder and can also negatively impact overall physical capability as well as the ability to maintain a good posture throughout the day when required for study, work etc.
If you notice your child is positioned the same few ways day after day encourage them to change it up a bit so they’re regularly getting variety.
Indoor Vs Outdoors
I’m a huge fan of play! There’s so much learning to be had during play time, however, I believe too much indoor play can severely limit children’s development.
Indoor environments are generally devoid of many physical and mental challenges that the outdoors provides. Elements such as texture, uneven surfaces, environmental variances, dangers and temperature changes… just to name a few. Rarely do these exist in an indoor environment as indoor settings are generally created more for comfort than anything else.
Children playing mostly only indoors and not being exposed to the natural outdoor elements may struggle to adapt, cope and move well when they’re older. This can result in emotional issues and structural problems developing.
We all know it’s easier to prevent a problem than to try and fix it later on, so if your child is a predominantly ‘indoors child’ I encourage you to encourage them to get outside to play and move in nature as often as possible, in as many different environments and situations as possible.
A great way of initiating this for all children, especially the tech device and indoor-addicted, is through Geocaching; the world’s biggest treasure hunt! Yes, it has a digital element but this platform allows kids to have their technology with them while also encouraging movement outdoors as they may need to walk, crawl and climb to find the treasures. It can be a great transition tool for some and can also help you and your kids discover new and interesting nature spaces in your own area which may become suitable areas for them to play in at other times.
In reality, helping improve your children’s physical development is not all that hard. With a bit of encouragement by you and your other family members and by providing them with more opportunities, they’re likely to thrive in an outdoor and movement-based world and become less device and indoors-addicted and dependent over time.
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