Kids who have good posture enjoy many benefits. Good posture can decrease the risk of long-term pain or injury, promote health, build self confidence and improve physical appearance. However, it can be quite a challenge to constantly remind your children to sit up straight or to avoid slouching.
If you’re a parent looking for ideas on how to help your child develop habits of good posture, or if you’re a teacher teaching students the importance of good posture, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we will discuss some simple tips you can employ to help your little ones avoid long-term posture-related issues.
Teaching Kids to Have Good Posture: Effective Tips
Lead by Example
The most often overlooked useful practice is parents modeling the correct posture for their children. Sometimes, we want kids to follow rules but they do not see that we follow the same things we want them to do. Some easy ways to lead by example in good posture includes:
- Sitting upright on the dining table: Meal times are a great opportunity to teach good posture for children. During your daily dining table gatherings, give a gentle reminder to sit up straight and practice the same habit as well. This will increase their self-awareness, and will eventually build up to long-term habits.
- Work from home: If you have older children, sitting with a good posture while working at home in your office or any other area can help. Be mindful when children observe you in their idle moments, as this will also help them follow by example.
- Movement forms: Having a walk outdoors, picking up heavy objects, or doing some physical activity with the kids? You can also teach them correct posture forms in these natural opportunities.
Teach Holistic Methods on Good Posture
Another great way to improve posture in children is holistic methods. There are many holistic methodologies that you and your kids can do at home. Having professionals teach these principles can greatly help in avoiding long-term pain and health problems brought about by bad posture. Some excellent examples are Feldenkrais and the Alexander Technique.
The Feldenkrais Method
Named after its founder Moshe Feldenkrais, the principle behind the program is the repetition of gentle movements to train or re-train the nervous system in a way that improved posture, coordination, and mobility. It also has enormous benefits for developing self-awareness, problem-solving skills, and emotional regulation. Although most of the Feldenkrais literature online is focused on adults, many practitioners work with children. There are two kinds of Feldenkrais programs to choose from. The first is called Awareness through Movement (ATM), where students are given verbal instructions from a practitioner in a class setting. The second program is called Functional Integration (FI), and this is practiced hands-on in a one-on-one setting, very much like physical therapy. Functional Integration, although good for anyone, is particularly helpful to those who have more extreme incapacities.
For an overview of what the Fendenkrais method is, and the philosophy behind it, watch David Zemach-Bersin’s introduction:
What can Feldenkrais do for my child? with Caryn Truppman:
These kinds of programs teach philosophy and awareness rather than bullet-point rules, with the hopes of covering all aspects of daily life. You can enroll in such programs or hire practitioners to work with you individually along with your children. Alternatively, if there are moderate spine and back problems that exist, it is best to consult a physician. They can recommend you to undergo spinal decompression procedures or prescribe medication and other interventions when needed.
Alexander Technique is a methodology of practicing certain occupational tasks with increased self-awareness. For example, students are given specific tasks such as chair sitting, walking, handling tools, and other functional activities. These tasks are facilitated by the instructor, and students are given mindfulness methods to do such tasks. Each session lasts for 30 minutes up to an hour, with up to 10-40 lessons depending on the goals.
Here’s a discussion from Robert Rickover’s podcast called Advice for Parents who are Concerned about the Posture and Coordination of their Young Children:
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Provide Positive Feedback
There’s nothing more rewarding to a child than giving praise that is due. When your child eventually practices good posture habits with or without your prompting, praise them for doing so.
You can say words such as “Great work for sitting up straight during homeschool!” or “I am proud of you for lifting up that box with a good posture!”. Avoid words such as “Good girl for sitting straight”, or “You’re a good boy for not slouching”. Make sure to praise the behavior rather than ‘who the child is’ to be more specific, and to avoid them questioning their self-worth. Being particular with your positive feedback helps provide reinforcement for the desired task, in this case, having good posture.
Use Moral Stories During Learning Times
Moral stories are also a great way to put your message across about good posture. A simple search on “Good posture storybook for kids” on Google can help you find age-appropriate selections that you and your children can enjoy.
These books often come with relatable characters. The storyline often goes when a character does not do a certain behavior, and they suffer some consequences. They learn their lesson at the end and promise for a better resolution. Moral stories are a great way to teach children about actions and their consequences, especially for healthy habits and character development.
Modify the environment
It is challenging for children to practice good posture when they are not provided with the right equipment and tools. Here are some simple ways to facilitate good posture using furniture and other equipment at home:
- Table height: Make sure that the table height for your children’s work surfaces are equal or a little below the elbow. This ensures a straight back and prevents shoulder and arm strain.
- Seating with back support or booster: A back support helps your child become comfortable with leaning their spine straight towards the rest. Some children do not automatically lean back when the backrest is uncomfortable, thus, you can begin by making their seats comfortable and inviting. Posture contraptions, such as this shoulder brace, work to strengthen muscles and improve posture.
- Couch or bed work: Do not encourage working in the bed or in the couch as this often facilitates a slouchy posture. If possible, give verbal or visual reminders to work in their ergonomically-arranged desks and chairs.
- Ergonomic chairs: Aside from improving their posture, children who use ergonomic chairs can avoid stress and permanent damage to their developing bones.
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Small Steps to Health and Wellness: Improve Your Posture
Posture improvements for yourself and your children may seem insignificant at first, but they produce lasting benefits that you will be grateful for. With these simple tips, you can gradually improve your family’s posture habits over time.
Natasha Ramirez is an avid writer, storyteller, and dog-lover. Her work has carried her from the bustle of New York at Inc. Magazine to the Santa Fe deserts at Outside Magazine. She enjoys writing about family-focused and community-centered stories.