Posts filed under School Age. Show all blog posts.
Our latest TV ad features NHL superstar and dad Vincent Lecavalier playing ‘tightrope walking’ with his daughter Victoria and some of her friends. The ad highlights the fact that it’s easy, fun and critical for parents to play with their kids in a way so they learn fundamental physical skills.
As simple as the ad is, it actually challenges common beliefs on raising active and successful kids.
There are three common myths that we want to debunk:
Myth 1: Kids will learn all the skills they need on their own
Kids play. That’s what they do. But playing is more than just fun; play is critical to your kid’s entire development.
Play is so important that the United Nations has recognized play as a fundamental right of children. The UN statement is in recognition of the research that shows kids need play to grow physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally.
But parents are not necessarily aware that kids need to play a variety of games to develop the physical literacy skills they need to achieve their full potential.
It’s great to spend time playing games with your children. As you play with them, why not play fun games that will also help your child learn fundamental skills that will help them in all aspects of life?
Myth 2: Teachers and coaches will teach my kids the skills they need to know
So that we can deliver to you what you need, we’re always talking with parents like you. Parents have told us that helping their kids succeed is important. Along the way, they feel that their main responsibility is to make sure their kids succeed academically. It’s not that parents don’t understand the importance of physical activity, but they assume that coaches and teachers will teach their kids the physical skills they need.
In reality, parents are and remain their kid’s first teachers, and this applies to physical skills as much as academic skills. And you can’t start too early. From birth to age 6, children need to develop the ABCs of movement—agility, balance, coordination, speed—by playing a diversity of fun games every day.
Realize that you are your child’s first teacher of all skills, especially the physical skills. By teaching, we mean exposing your child to many fun games. Don’t be afraid if you are not sporty yourself. It’s not about turning your kid into an Olympian; it’s about teaching good skills and active habits early in life. Get to know the fundamental skills for your kid’s age and just play!
Myth 3: It’s for jocks only, my kid is not an athlete
In our last editorial we stated that there are no natural-born athletes. This generated many comments. It has raised the old nature versus nurture debate, but there’s not much to argue in view of the new research. There is simply a lot of science that now demonstrates that our brain is not static, and that what we do actually changes the structure of our brain.
In other words, the brain we are born with will adapt and evolve according to what we do and the skills we practice. Two video clips, one from Daniel Coyle author of The Talent Code and one from Matthew Syed who wrote Bounce: How Champions Are Made present simple summaries of the research.
Based on the science, our contributor Sara Smeaton, who calls herself a “non-sporty mom,” told me that she has changed her entire outlook on what could be possible for her kids. ‘I always thought that my kids would never be athletic. I was resigned to the fact that they would be un-athletic like my husband and I,’ she said.
Don’t fall into the old clichés of sporty versus non-sporty or athletic versus non-athletic. Instead, look at physical literacy as a way to help your children develop as well-rounded people. In the end, our body is our window to the world. Whether your children become artists, business moguls or professional athletes, their bodies will be their main tools for expressing themselves and for relating to the world around them.
The winning formula
The formula is simple: Play with your children, and play fun games that will help them to develop fundamental movement skills. With new skills, your children’s confidence will improve. With skills and confidence, their level of enjoyment will grow. In the end, having more fun in activity will mean your kids might become active for life!
Richard Monette is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Active for Life. He’s a ‘renaissance man’ of the quest for achievement and fulfillment. His professional activities span the disciplines of business, sport psychology and education. He is part of the B2ten leadership team and leads the Active for Life initiative. Richard is married and the the proud ‘papa’ of a 9 year-old boy and an 11 year-old girl.
Children are born not wanting more then to be loved, given nourishment and kept safe and warm. Most parents do a wonderful job of meeting these needs and our children’s genuine gratitude is reflected in their loving hugs, smiles and giggles. As they grow and are exposed to other influencers, they begin looking beyond their needs into the world of wants. And if you’re anything like most parents wanting to keep your children smiling and loving, you may give in to many of their ‘gimmes.’ You may even over indulge them.
Fast forward to a frightening awakening—you begin to see your children as spoiled brats. Never satisfied with what they have, always wanting bigger and better, wanting what they say all the other kids in the neighbourhood have and punishing you by keeping their distance when they don’t get what they want the minute they want it. But wait a minute—are they to blame? Don’t we have to take responsibility for creating these monsters? With the best of intentions, who can blame us for wanting to be loved? Our children have been shown how not to be satisfied with what they have by getting too much and too often. With so much at their disposal, things lose their meaning. Not just material things, but even the valuable time and effort we give of ourselves.
Just following our direction to say “thank you” doesn’t guarantee our children truly are. However, a genuine feeling of gratefulness will generally lead to growing up happier. Feeling grateful for what they have affects their overall sense of well being. Looking around and feeling a sense of gratitude for what surrounds them in the present is the best “present” of all. Feeling grateful for being able to afford certain luxuries, for every day simple acts such as being able to reach into the fridge for food or switching on the furnace to keep warm are very important.
So, what’s a parent to do? If your child spends more time nagging for something than she does enjoying it once it’s received, is it too late to reverse the situation? No. Harder, maybe—but not impossible. The trick is not to go from all to nothing. Once you’ve identified the problem, work at changing things gradually. Next birthday or holiday, instead of buying lots of gifts, think of buying fewer items that are not so extravagant. Consider purchasing or creating an experience that you can enjoy as a family instead.
As well, make sure that you are modelling appreciation for what you have too. Say what you are grateful for out loud—your child’s initiative for putting his dish in the dishwasher, a loving family, the ability to afford a warm pair of winter boots. Don’t lecture about starving children in Africa but create opportunities for your child to see people in less fortunate positions. Stop to speak to a homeless person on the street. He or she may not be so scary after all. Your child may learn a whole lot from this stranger without your having to say anything.
The bottom line is—the more we give, the more our children want. The more they want, the less grateful they are for what they have. So the next time you feel guilty about not giving into a want, consider that you’re doing your child a favour.