Good posture is emphasized a lot here at Oahu Spine & Rehab. Most of us tend to have back pain due to our jobs and the way we sit or stand throughout the day. If you work at a computer all day most of us fall into a “slumped” or “slouched” position, not thinking of our posture at all and letting our head fall forward. Now that technology is becoming integrated into every part of our lives, poor posture is beginning at younger ages. Therefore, as parents we should be aware of educating good posture to help prevent health issues down the road.
Educating children on good posture not only helps people appear successful, confident and alert; good posture is beneficial to our health. Good posture helps you breath better, improves circulation and digestion, helps your muscles and joint, maintains a healthy spine, and improves your frame of mind.1 Having a positive frame of mind makes learning easier. Some schools have begun to implement ways to improve posture among students by integrating ergonomic furniture and yoga balls to classrooms. Yoga balls engage the lower body and cause the body to make small adjustments to maintain balance. These small movements stimulate both hemispheres of the brain, which improves the students’ memories and helps them focus.1
It can be difficult to get your child to be aware of their posture, but educating them on why good posture is important may get the information to stick. Knowing the benefit of sitting and standing up straight will give a reason to work on posture.
-Abnormal bone growth can result from long-term improper posture. Poor posture can result in disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome and spinal abnormalities, which can cause pain of the joints and limited mobility later on in life.
-Your breathing improves with better posture, which can increase your energy and ability to concentrate as your brain needs oxygen to work.
-Good posture can also improve self-image. People who slouch less tend to feel better about themselves as standing tall and straight promotes confidence. 2
Try and limit time with TV and video games. Both of these can discourage good posture with the way children lounge or lay down while using them. Try to limit time to about 2 hours a day. This will not only help with your child’s posture and encourage them to be social, get exercise, and get outdoors.
Some tips to help improve your child’s posture are:
Be conscious of good posture
As they say, “Awareness is half the battle.” Make good posture a priority and soon your child will become more tuned in to his or her own body and how they are sitting or standing.
Praise your child
Children need positive reinforcement. When you see your child standing up straight, tell your son how tall he looks, or compliment your daughter on how grown up and mature she appears. Soon your child will be motivated to stand straight all the time.
Lead by example
Encourage your child by having good posture yourself! If you have a desk job, your posture may have deteriorated without you realizing it. So be conscious of your own stance.
Try yoga or tai-chi
Activities like yoga and tai-chi place a lot of emphasis on body awareness and movement. Many of the salutations and other positions require a straight spine to allow for deep breaths and proper extension. If your child is too self-conscious to join a class, pick up some videos to do at home. Don’t worry about him being too young; you can even find DVD programs on yoga for kids!
Play a game
Take a page from My Fair Lady and have your child balance a book on her head, then walk around the house without dropping it. This is impossible to do when your head is tilting forward or backward!
Invest in ergonomic furniture
Learning is always easier with the right tools. There are a few companies that are carrying ergonomic furniture that promote good posture, like PostureInStyle and Kidsomania. And if you can’t find any you like or that are in your price range? Don’t forget, there’s always the yoga ball.
Children tend to learn better with visuals, using pictures and images can help teach about posture.2
-Find child friendly cartoons and handouts online that discuss posture
-Have your child draw pictures of people using good posture and bad posture
Create a workspace that encourages good posture
Often, children develop poor posture due to homework and school obligations. If assignments are done electronically especially, children end up slouched over a desk or computer all night. Create a work environment for your child that discourages slouching.2
-Try not to have your child do their homework on the couch or in bed. Tables and desks should always be elbow height. Make sure your child is working at a desk that meets these conditions.
-Teach your child proper posture when using a computer. Make sure you tell your child to keep the bottom of her palms lifted above the keyboard rather than resting on it and to keep her shoulders shifted back and her back straight as she types.
Change your furniture.
Some types of furniture can discourage good posture.
-Make sure your child’s mattress is firm, a soft mattress can cause back discomfort that leads to slouching.
-Avoid overly cushy chairs or sofas, children may sink into these objects and end up slouching.
-Encourage kids to sit with their feet flat on the floor. Crossing legs can twist the spine and result in bad posture. 2