Article #3: How We Can Stimulate Our Children’s Physical Development by Chuck and Mimi Young
At the tender age of six, Ben has been asked to join a highly-skilled boys U.S.G.F. gymnastics team. His coach, currently sought after by Olympic hopefuls, says Ben is one in several hundred thousand. Strength and awareness of his body give Ben the form and control of 10-12-year-old gymnasts who have competed for several years. Ben had only two months of gymnastics instruction prior to being asked to join the team!
After six weeks of lessons, Ben’s older sister Hanna, 8 1/2 years old, was asked to join an “Advanced Training” gymnastics team. Every other girl on the team had two to three years’ experience.
It was not Hanna or Ben’s gymnastic knowledge alone that landed them a berth on their teams. Hanna’s coach put it this way: “If they have strength, agility, balance, awareness and control of their body, I can teach them all the tricks they need.”
As Ben’s Mom and Dad, we are often asked, “What did you do?” Our philosophy for stimulating physical development lies in three areas:
- People enjoy doing the things they are good at.
- People tend to imitate what they see.
- Development of the basic tools needed for any activity.
Prior experience as a Junior High Girls’ Physical Education teacher gave Mimi contact with many girls eleven to fourteen years of age, who “hated” physical education classes. Her observations and experiences in a nutshell are:
- If you’re good at it, you’ll enjoy doing it.
- If you’re NOT good at it, you will NOT enjoy doing it.
The converse also appears to be true:
- If you enjoy it, you’ll be good at it.
- If you DON’T enjoy it, you WON’T be good at it. Regardless of its absolute veracity, this is the core of our philosophy. This is the pivot point we use in creating daily activities for our children. Breaking skills down into small pieces increases the chances for success. Success breeds confidence and fun.
The second concept we capitalize on is a child’s natural desire and ability to imitate. Irrespective of skill, our attitude about physical activity is quickly copied. Including some sit-ups in along with a friendly romp on the floor conveys the unspoken message that exercise is fun, too. Our activities issue the silent invitation to “follow me!” They create a productive channel for a child’s boundless energy; much more productive than letting the children watch television!
Encouraging the development of the skills basic to most sports is our third area of emphasis. These tools can give confidence and promote success in any activity.
Strength comes to mind first. We encouraged pulling, standing, and crawling in our children’s first year of life. We allowed and assisted them to walk as often as possible. That meant NOT carrying them to the bathroom, over to the neighbors, or swinging them into their high chair at dinner time. Allowing our year-old toddler to push the stroller on our daily walk until tired was good practice. Muscle tone, balance and sound sleeping are the early benefits of your patience. Knowing how to run straight and swift is developed by practice, not birthdays.
Hand/eye coordination is another important tool we can develop step by step. Nesting, sorting, building block towers, pouring sand, etc., are good starters. Balls of every size, shape and color were part of the furniture in our house. Simple rolling and catching produce familiarity and confidence with a ball. Slowly we added one skill at a time. By the time Ben could walk, Dad’s playful dribbling of the ball had produced a silent challenge for imitation. Assistance promotes success as children climb past the frustration level of each new skill.
Balance and timing are two other tools we highly praise and encourage. The sit-down scooter bikes promote leg strength and timing. This in turn leads to hopping, then skipping, galloping, jumping and twirling. Learning how to pump yourself on the swing was applauded as loudly as becoming potty trained!
Scooters, tricycles, bicycles, and roller skates turn restless energy into positive channels. At age five, Ben and his 7 1/2 year old twin sisters bicycled with Mom and Dad seventeen miles round trip one Saturday. As we rode into the driveway upon our return, Ben asked if he could “Go ride bikes with my friends.” We had just covered eight hilly miles in 45 minutes!
Where does all this physical development lead? We see advantages daily in preparing our children for proper physical living. The following are most apparent:
- The child is a happier child.
- S/he tends to be less bored.
- Enjoys goal setting and the subsequent accomplishment.
- The child’s self image improves dramatically when s/he can actually “DO” something.
- There is an easier initial interaction with the
child’s peers. “The kid who can at least hit the ball is picked for the team at camp.”
- Easier Parenting—if there is such a thing!
- There are many more ways for parents to channel energy.
- Character development; that is, the child has concrete examples of “trying hard,” “doing your best,” and “not quitting.”
- There are more areas where the parents and the child can play together.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Influencing Factors
- 3. The Modern Family
- 4. The Newly Married
- 5. The Infant And The Family
- 6. Adults Within The Family
- Article #1: Feeding Diapers By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #2: Introducing Grandchildren To Hygienic Living
- Article #3: How We Can Stimulate Our Children’s Physical Development By Chuck and Mimi Young
- Article #4: Avoiding Compulsory Immunization By Dr. Christopher Kent