Good posture is crucial for our busy, everyday lives. It prevents muscle soreness, chronic back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and many other chronic afflictions that can affect our daily lives. While some of the side effects from having a bad posture manifest when we’re older, it all starts when we’re kids. The developmental years are critical for instilling good posture habits in your child, and ensuring they get used to maintaining good posture from a young age.
Ask your child to stand up straight in front of a mirror with their shoulders back, tummy tucked in and knees straight. Ask them to hold their head up and look straight ahead, and then relax their shoulders to a comfortable height (without slouching) whilst keeping their chest forward. This kind of stance should feel comfortable and not forced.
Ask your child to practise this for a few minutes everyday in front of the mirror so they get used to what good posture looks and feels like, and eventually it will start to become natural for them.
Here are our top 6 tips for you to encourage your child to improve their posture.
Furniture that we, as adults, use isn’t designed to cater to children's ergonomic needs, meaning that most of the furniture you have in your home won’t be appropriate for your child. Chairs and tables made for adults are too big for children, and even when it comes to couches and beds, it’s better to go with proper sized furniture that’s especially designed to fit and support your child’s posture. Remember, your kid’s feet should always touch the floor, flat. Never encourage your child to cross their legs when sitting at the table, as it can twist the spine.
Day-to-day activities can be posture-friendly, you just have to identify them and encourage your kids to make small changes in order to improve their posture. For example, the next time the kids are watching TV, ask them to lie on their stomach to watch, to stretch their muscles. Similarly, when you’re walking outside and see a low ledge, ask them to walk on it. Or when they have to prepare for bed at night, ask them to walk with a book on their head and balance it out until they get to the bathroom. It’s all about making the routine activities fun, interesting and posture friendly.
This may be a well-known fact, but screens and TV encourage bad posture in both children and adults. And because they are distracting, it’s easy for your child to fall into bad posture habits whilst watching. For example if your child is using an iPad, they will usually tilt their head down, which can cause damage to their neck over time. Kids can also slouch on the lounge when watching TV, which is not ideal for their backs. Try to limit screen time to up to 2 hours a day, maximum.
Fitness classes are not just for adults, so why not try to find a yoga, gymnastics or pilates course that is child-friendly? The benefits are tremendous – your child will start getting familiar with stretching and healthy exercising from a young age, as well as developing core strength and flexibility. It can also provide them with a natural way to relieve stress and emotions, as well as giving them a fun and exciting extra curricular activity that they can develop new friendships through.
Your child might not be willing to follow instructions if they realise don’t the benefits of their actions, so the best thing to do is talk to them about why good posture is important, and the long-term risks of not practising good posture. Children tend to learn better through praise rather than criticism, so use positive reinforcement every time they practise good posture and they will be more inclined to put the work in.
One of the best ways to teach your child good posture is to lead by example. Get involved in the process (it’s always nice to work on your posture too) by going for posture-friendly walks together, sitting upright in your chair and showing your child, cutting down on screen time or even doing yoga and stretches together.
Encouraging children to practise good posture while they’re young will go a long way to avoid pains and aches in adulthood, especially chronic back pain. All it takes is a little effort, a change in routine and the appropriate furniture to ensure your child’s health and posture is taken care of.
Screen time for kids is a real hot button issue. Media commentators, bloggers, childhood experts and parents at school pick-up – they’re all talking about it! Most of us can agree that it’s bad – but did you know just how bad it can be?