Here is a theory I live by: an active baby grows up into an active child, who then grows up into an active adolescent and an active adult. Therefore, it is crucial to focus on activity in the earliest period of life because we quickly forget to be active and instead end up being inactive somewhere in front of the computer or television.
Although media and bloggers today constantly draw attention to a lack of activity in the society, especially for kids, , perhaps we have not stopped to ask ourselves what brought us to this state of inactivity in the first place.
The answers to this question can be found as early as in the infant period. What we offer to our infant during the first couple of years serves as a great foundation for the rest of their lives. The fundamental problem may really be rooted in the way we care for our child when we try to keep him from discomfort.
When parents hear their children complaining about something, they rush to them and try to ease their “suffering.” We shower them with new toys, find ways to entertain them, quickly take them in our arms\, and want to please them in all possible ways so that they stop crying. However, is this really necessary? Will we be there their whole lives to help and entertain them whenever they feel discomfort?
In my opinion, completely eliminating discomfort makes no sense. As I have discovered, such whimpering and complaining is actually not a sign that there is something wrong with the baby, nor is it a sign of suffering or being in pain. It only means that they are bored with a toy and want another or that they would prefer lying on the stomach instead of on the back, etc. By reacting to each tiniest whimper, we prevent the child from making an effort to try and learn how to actively reach another toy, how to turn to the side, stomach, back or how to spend time playing on their own sometimes.
In addition, I see absolutely no need for children to be in the lap, reclining chairs or baby chairs all the time. Your baby will be most active and pleased when left on the ground, on a flat, soft but firm enough surface, which offers excellent opportunities for moving freely, and, what matters the most, for repeating free movements. This does not mean that your baby should be left alone on the ground.
A play mat can offer great opportunities for playing and having fun, which is why parents should never hesitate to join their children on the play mat and have fun together. However, don’t forget to give them enough space and remember to help them as little as possible when trying to reach a toy or roll over onto their stomach. Learning is repeating and the more they repeat, the more active they are.
Activity is what truly matters and what will stay with them for the rest of their lives. So, dear mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, never spoil your children and grandchildren needlessly just because you’re afraid of them feeling a moment of discomfort. The challenges they face will make them happier and more active in the long run when they work through them alone.
One last thought on raising active children. Don’t forget that parents are the greatest role models for children; therefore, much more can be achieved through setting a good example than through words.
I’d like to hear from those of you with active young children… how do you keep your kids engaged and active? What advice can you share with other parents who may be battling to incorporate active hobbies and habits into their kids’ lives?