Jan 29 2013
Today, our guest is Greig Taylor, a local chiropractor, who shares 10 ways on how to help your child get (and remain!) active.Â
When you were a kid, what was your experience with sport? Was it something you couldnâ€™t wait to do, or something that you had to be dragged into? As an adult, has your relationship with sport changed at all? We are meant to move. Physical inactivity is increasingly being recognized as a risk factor on par with smoking or obesity in severity. To raise children who are more likely to be active throughout their lives, we need to get them involved in physical activities as early as possible and make it an enjoyable part of their lives.
Research suggests that a lack of skill in an activity is a common reason for kids to quit or not try a sport. It is an increasingly common idea that we need to teach children basic movement skills to develop physical literacy in the same way that we teach them written and mathematic literacy. Having a broad variety of movement skills makes new activities easier, which makes them more enjoyable.
Whether you want to raise a future Olympian, or just an active person, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are my top 10 things to help your child be stay active:
1.Â Â Â Start young. Depending on which source you accept, infants need 20-60 minutes of tummy time a day. Toddlers should not have more than 1 hour of screen time in one session. The more time your kids have to engage in playing on the floor, the better.
2. Â Â Physical activity doesnâ€™t mean organized sport or structured play. The sorts of activities that help kids develop motor skills are the same sorts of things that they tend to do on their own: crawling, rolling, jumping and running. There should be some area in your house that your kids can play with the least amount of supervision that is age appropriate.
3. Â Let them fail. Falling is learning. Itâ€™s easy to be tempted to try and help your child achieve skills faster, and there is a range of products that sell to this desire. Bumbos to help them sit or constantly holding their hands to help them walk spring to mind. Aside from the safety risks associated with some of them, they are probably slowing down motor skill development by not allowing the child to experiment, fail, and eventually learn the skill on their own. Iâ€™m not saying you shouldnâ€™t use an exersaucer to get dinner made, but donâ€™t confuse it with actual exercise.
4. Â Find something they want to do. Kamloops offers almost any activity program your child could be interested in. If youâ€™re picking an organized program to start, talk to your child about what they might like to do.Â Canadian Sport for Life has a good list of contacts for a variety of sports at http://www.canadiansportforlife.ca/resources/find-quality-sport-programs Look them over and maybe watch a YouTube video to see if your child is interested.
5. Â Â Kids should be generalists, not specialists. While you may have heard that Tiger Woods started focusing on golf at the age of three, most high achieving athletes played several sports at least through high school. Children should learn movement skills on the ground (running, rolling, kicking), in the water, on snow and ice, and in the air (jumping, hanging). Itâ€™s great if your child has a favourite activity, but early specialization in one sport is a strong risk factor for future injury. Kids should be doing at least 3 different activities until their early teens, and then they can focus more on specializing in a chosen sport.
6. Â Skills take time to develop. With the exception of major developmental milestones, if your child is not learning a skill as quickly as others, you donâ€™t need to rush in to help them. Research shows that motor skills are better retained with minimal coaching. While learning may seem slow at times, if they learn it themselves it is a skill they will have much longer.
7. Â Know what motivates your child. Are they motivated by getting better at something or by how well they do in comparison to others? There are ups and downs to both, but you can be a lot more useful in motivating them if you know what makes them tick.
8. Â Â Donâ€™t focus on results. You arenâ€™t responsible for cheering up your child if they lose or donâ€™t perform as well as they would like. Itâ€™s the coachâ€™s job to figure out how to get better next time. Itâ€™s your job to listen to your childâ€™s experience. Open-ended questions like, â€śwhat did you think about the game?â€ť are more likely to get a response than statements like, â€śdonâ€™t worry about itâ€ť, or hearing your impressions of the performance.
9. Â If itâ€™s not fun, they wonâ€™t want to keep going. Lots of factors can sap a childâ€™s enthusiasm for an activity. Picking a quality program is a good start, along with making sure both you and your child have met the coach and seem likely to get along. Some factors are out of your control, but most are manageable. If your childâ€™s enthusiasm begins to wane, see if thereâ€™s anything you can do to help restore it.
10. Â Play! I canâ€™t stress this enough. Our culture is increasingly moving towards early specialization and performance on one hand, and sedentary screen time on the other. Being active doesnâ€™t need to be a heavily organized activity, and kids are great at playing if we create an environment for them to do it. For tips on everyday ways to fit more physical activity in your childâ€™s day, activeforlife.ca is a great resource.Â
Â Â Â Greig Taylor is a chiropractor based in Kamloops, BC and can be reached at theÂ Sage Sport Institute (910 McGill Rd) Â
Â Â Â Â telephone: 250.314.5000Â
Â Â Â Â www.greigtaylor.ca