It’s coming up to the back-to-school season, and you’re probably getting your kids all kitted out for the new school year. But along with all the uniforms, stationery, textbooks and tutoring that you’re splashing your dough on, there’s one area you might be neglecting…
Your kid’s posture!
Sure, it might sound old fashioned, but your kid’s posture is incredibly important to their health and performance at school. It’s a small thing that, once mastered, can give them massive benefits.
The importance of a kid’s posture
As we all know, habits learned early in life are difficult to shake. That’s why it’s important to nip the problem in the bud before it gets worse.
Chronic poor posture can cause all sorts of physical and psychological problems for your children. They can develop chronic back, neck and shoulder pain later in life, have less energy and may struggle to perform as well during their lessons.
Poor posture can also hurt your child mentally. People with poor posture tend to be more stressed and have a higher incidence of depression and anxiety. This is because when the body holds itself in a particular position, the brain releases the stress hormone cortisol, causing them to become more stressed and anxious.
So, what can you do about it?
Check out the dangers to your kid’s posture, and the easy solutions.
Backpacks might seem innocuous. Just chuck a bunch of stuff inside them and leave for the day, right? What could be more innocent?
Backpacks can actually throw your kid’s posture out of whack. Many children, particularly very young children, are carrying backpacks that are way too heavy for them, and this is causing serious back and spine problems. When we carry something really heavy on our back, we instinctively lean forward to redistribute the weight. This can cause chronic hunching, rounded shoulders, back pain and more.
To counter this, empty out as much as you can from your child’s backpack, shorten the shoulder straps and make sure the bag is flush against their back. This way, your child’s muscles are better able to take a lighter load.
When your kid goes back to school, they’re going to be in lessons. That means a lot of sitting. And THAT is no good for your kid’s posture.
When we sit for long periods of time, we have a tendency to hunch forward. If we do this too often, we can get stuck in a slumping posture that can carry over to other areas of life.
When your child is sitting for long periods of time, it’s best for them to adopt the best possible posture. Encourage them to sit in chairs where their feet touch the ground, that provides adequate back support to help them sit up straight and are free from armrests that force their shoulders to hunch.
Inquire at your child’s school if they have ergonomic desk materials. If not, there are loads of ways you can augment your child’s learning environment, from lumbar supports, posture braces and basic posture training.
In school and at home, our kids are surrounded by devices of all kinds: smartphones, tablets, laptops, televisions, game systems, a lot.
Try to imagine how your child uses these devices, and you can probably picture the posture problems that arise.
When they use their smartphones, they probably hold them close to their chest and hunch their heads to see the screen. They probably place their tablets on their laps and stoop over them. Or, when watching television, they probably sit with their legs folded and a curved back.
Most kids (and people, for that matter) don’t have strong enough cores to keep themselves sitting upright for long periods of time, but there are ways you can encourage your children to adopt better postures as they use their devices.
Encourage them to hold their smartphones at eye level, use lap desks or pillows to prop up tablets and laptops so that they do not have to stoop so low and lie on their bellies when watching television. Doing all of these things will put less strain on your child’s back and upper spine, decreasing the likelihood of hunching.
This one’s a bit trickier and difficult to control.
Without realising it, many of us can begin to mirror the body language of the people around us. This is called social blending. It can be particularly common among kids.
For instance, if you spend time with a group of kids that have a particular posture, you will begin to instinctively mirror that posture in order to blend in. Many taller kids will also instinctively hunch over when among their peers in order to appear to be one of the group.
This is, ultimately, a very subtle and unconscious interaction with social expectations, but it’s easily fixed by explaining to your kids the importance of standing upright and encouraging them to self-spot when their posture begins to stoop.
Closely related to sitting, eating can also be an area where kids can develop bad habits.
Many kids eat by leaning into a table, with elbows up and craning their neck towards their utensils.
Encourage your children to sit close to the edge of the table so that they do not need to lean in to bring the food to their mouths, rather than bringing their mouths to the food.
Most of your kid’s posture problems at school are also present at home, so it’s best to be vigilant. Act as an example and adopt an upright posture yourself. If you find it difficult, there are loads of ways to ensure you’re adopting an optimal posture yourself.
But really, it’s about small checks and corrections. You’ll be amazed at how much difference it can make!