Embracing the First “E” of household P.E.A.C.E.
Obesity continues to rise amongst children and youth all over the world. Since the late 1990’s the rate of youth entering the category of “obese” has raised alarm. What has been found is that the increase in weight gain is not just a reflection of an individual’s physical activity and diet but involves other social and mental components as well. While I want to assume that most persons reading this blog will never be impacted by this health challenge, the statistics suggest otherwise. Even if your child is fit and in good health now, by time they reach middle school, they will have slightly over a 1-in-5 chance of becoming obese. While I acknowledge that it is not the sole contribution to weight gain, exercise is an important factor. For the month of October, all our “Tips and Tricks” will focus on ways to creatively integrate movement into the culture of your household. As children get older, their interest in structured workouts will most likely increase, if the family has placed value on taking care of the human body.
While exercise in the early stages can easily be considered play, our focus on Exercise seeks to encourage every household to spend some time participating in activities that build muscle, improve coordination, promote balance, strengthen the heart, and foster healthy teamwork.
0-18 Months - Lend Me Support!
As our little one’s bodies grow to eventually support little walkers, there are many factors we need to remain aware to best support our little ones. Because this is outside of our area of expertise, we are going to refer you to Rachel Coley with “CanDo Kiddo” (www.candokiddo.com), who provides great tutorials on how to support your young one in movement so their joints are protected as they learn to sit-up, crawl, stand and walk!
19-36 months - Overcoming Fears
At this stage our young ones are brave enough to venture into new territory and test their limits. While embracing this new curiosity it is also important to plan for the events that may snatch all the courage away from them. Pay attention to your child’s strengths and offer them support in those areas where they are still working toward independent movement. Talk to them to let them know they can achieve a new task. And slow down enough to break down the parts to successfully executing a new move!
3yrs - 5 years - Taking A Chance
Buy a first aid kit, stock up on band-aids and gauzes and release these young ones to explore new territory. From scooters to balance bikes, from hiking to swimming, from karate to soccer, there is nothing like utilizing this period of life to introduce your young one to a variety of different options for keeping those bodies moving. The more exposure they have, the better they can keep themselves entertained…without a screen. At this stage we want to be mindful of making sure the activities remain fun, that competition is not introduced too soon, so they continue to embrace movement as a form of developing their own identity and making a personal commitment to taking care of themselves. Plus, increased movement helps maintain good sleep habits as these young one’s ditch naptime for good!
6 - 8 years - Exploring New Horizons
Now your children are ready to join you in most activities. Keep equipment that can easily be packed to stimulate movement no matter where you go. Utilize weekends to explore your city or town and find the best bike paths, hiking trails, trail rides, water activities, etc. nearby. Build in a treasure hunt or hide-and-seek game to add to the bonding taking place as your family supports each other in movement. Be mindful to include days of rest so those bodies can protect themselves. There is no limit to what can be done in this stage.
Children with limited physical mobility - Focus on the Can Do's!
Let’s not forget to acknowledge that some of our loved ones and community members do not have full mobility of all their body parts. Whether working with a physical therapist or self-navigating at home, keep in mind what your child can do and what level of push is helpful for their developing bodies. While they may not be able to join us in bike rides, we can develop activities that promote inclusion of the mobility they do have. We can also find opportunities for them to move with others of their same ability level, so they are able to move at their pace with others who understand the realities of being differently abled.
As a parent, teacher, guardian, coach, or other involved leader in a child’s life, we can always be aware of how our personal attitudes and philosophies regarding health and wellness shape the desires of our young ones. It just might be that guiding our young household members into movement will help us to recover self-love and self-investment in ways that re-energize our entire family system. Here are a few pointers on things to be mindful of when working toward maintaining an active household routine:
What activities do I most often suggest during down time?
Which movement-based activities do I enjoy most?
Which movement-based activities have I never tried? (Why not start now?)
How much commitment do I make to my own personal health and well-being?
What type of movement can each of my household members execute? If you’re not sure, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Zero-to-Three, and BabyCenter.com have easily accessible developmental milestone charts to guide you in setting reasonable expectations for your children.
Knowing your answers to these questions will help ensure that regardless of what activities we as adults do or do not engage, the doors remain open for our young ones to self-determine what activities bring them joy while helping foster a lifelong commitment to investing in their physical health.