We don’t mean to overstate the obvious, but sitting for hours at a desk could be harmful for your child’s posture and health in general. While you can’t control your child every second she/he is at school, you can follow our easy-to-implement recommendations on how to beat the consequences of “sedentary school lifestyle”. Here they are: 10 tips to improve your child’s posture. As a free little bonus: you can use them all too.
1. Make sure your kid gets up and moves around in school as often as possible. Some enlightened school teachers have already recognised the problem of pupils being glued to a desk all day long and try to do something about it. For example, they invite children to go outside and move around every break. A good parents initiative would be a policy for all students and teachers to get out of their chairs every hour, walk to an open window, breathe deeply and stretch arms above the head before returning to their seats.
2. Instead of making a child dive into her homework right after school, spend some time together outside in an active way: walking, running or going grocery shopping (on foot, not by car).
3. Pay attention to your own posture, because your children tend to copy it. Check out our Non Yawn-inducing Guide on How to Improve Posture
4. Talk to your child about the importance of good posture. Treat the discussions of good posture habits as you would those about healthy eating habits: they are time consuming, but totally worth it from the perspective of lifelong health benefits. Watch the cartoon-based TED Lesson “the Benefits of Good posture” by Tetiana Podvysotska
5. Pay attention to how your child is wearing their backpack. Be sure that a child carries no more than 15% of his or her body weight; load the heaviest items closest to the child’s back (the back of the pack); adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits closely to the child’s back. Make the child wear both shoulder straps at all times, to distribute the pack’s weight evenly and avoid back pain.
6. After long day at school, conduct walking or running “family meetings” in your neighbourhood to discuss what happened during the day.
7. Inspire your whole family to take the stairs whenever is possible: whether you are going up or down, stairways give you an opportunity to stretch your legs and get your blood flowing.
8. Persuade your child to take regular breaks from the computer. The effective formula is “every twenty minutes, take a break to look at something twenty feet away for twenty-seconds”.
9. If possible, choose sports activities for your child that require a lot of balance: gymnastics, ice hockey, horseback riding etc. – all of them will help improve posture awareness. Any form of dance will work well too, As will circus routines.
10. Do these Five Simple Posture Improving Exercises with children every morning (or early evening, if you prefer):
The Gentleman Giraffe
This exercise lengthens the neck muscles, increases posture awareness and lifts up your mood 🙂
Surprisingly, giraffes have seven vertebrae that connect their torso to their head. So, use the image of the giraffe neck to lift your head up further from your trunk: just imagine you have to reach up with your giraffe neck to those tasty leaves high above your body.
The Swan Princess
This exercise improves thoracic spine mobility, releases upper back tension and stabilises the shoulder girdle 🙂
Lie on your stomach, with legs straightened and shoulder width apart. Place your hands on the floor just above your shoulders. While keeping your lower ribs flattened to the floor, exhale and lift your upper body extending your neck and upper spine. Keep looking downwards. Inhale and lengthen your spine back to the starting position while exhaling.
The World’s Champion Swimmer
This exercise strengthens the muscles of the upper back, increases spinal extension, as well as improving back muscle balance 🙂
Lie on your tummy with arms extended straight forward and legs straightened and slightly apart. Pull your abs in and raise right arm and left leg up. While keeping the spine elongated and pulling abs in, switch the position of arms and legs to opposite without losing the balance. Increase the tempo and complete 8 repetitions.
The Soft Little Kitty
This exercise increases mobility of the whole spine and releases lower back tension 🙂
Place your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Take a deep inhale and round your spine from both sides (neck and tailbone) while exhaling. Try to treat every vertebra as separate. Gently come back to a starting position (no need to bend your back in the opposite direction). Repeat 4 – 6 times.
The Crab King
This exercise improves the space between each spine segment, improves balance and coordination 🙂
Sit on the mat in a cross – legged position. Inhale, pull your abs in towards the spine, lift your legs with your arms to achieve balance position. Incline your chin to the chest and roll back like a ball while exhaling. Go no further than your shoulders and return to balance position while inhaling. Repeat the sequence 4-6 times.
Finally, celebrate your children’s posture accomplishments! Regular, positive reinforcement is crucial to the success of any new habit. Every time you see your little darling doing her best with posture, go for a little dance or verbal congratulation. Happy learning!