Wrapping Kids in Cotton Wool the Wrong Way to go
Aussie parents need to relax a little more and allow their children the latitude to play freely outdoors and enjoy all the benefits that physical activity brings, the National Heart Foundation said today.
National Heart Foundation physical activity spokesperson, Trevor Shilton, said parents need to strike a balance between appropriate parental care and supervision and a child’s natural desire to play, to explore and be physically active.
“While a parents desire to love and protect their child is natural, the reality is that it has become too easy to molly coddle children to the point of being detrimental to their physical and social well-being,” Prof Shilton said.
“Kids have an innate, in-built need to be physically active, and we should be doing all that we can as parents to facilitate active play time when and where possible.
“At present, a staggering eight out of ten Aussie children fail to meet the minimum national standard of at least 60 minutes physical activity per day.
“When we consider the amount of time they spend watching TV or playing computer games it is little wonder they’re so physically inactive.
“In turn, this sets our children up to live their lives under the shadow of chronic health conditions like heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
“We owe it to the health of present and future generations that we take steps now to remedy this epidemic of inactivity among young Australians.”
Mr Shilton said a review of literature by the University of British Columbia on the perils of over-protective parenting found that children encouraged to play and explore had increased physical activity levels, improved social skills and did better at school.
“This isn’t rocket science and yet we have increasingly strayed from what is essentially a common sense approach to parenting,” he said.
“We need to have enough faith and trust in our children’s best interests to allow them to engage in the type of healthy, vigorous play time that kids of yesteryear, including ourselves, regularly did.
“Whether this involves kicking a footy, climbing a tree or playing tag in a local park, taking the dog for a regular walk or hitting a cricket ball over the neighbour’s fence, these are all healthy forms of physical activity that we should be encouraging.”
Mr Shilton said practical, achievable initiatives to encourage Australians to become more active are a focus of the Heart Foundation’s advocacy for a comprehensive, funded National Physical Activity Action Plan.
“We need to get all Australians moving more and sitting less, sooner rather than later – and there is no better place to start than with our kids.”
If you need help getting everyone motivated, our simple tips will get you moving!
- Be the change you want to see
Lead by example and your children will follow
- Walk and cycle together
No time to get active? Use your travelling time! Why not walk or ride a bike with the kids to school?
- Build activity into family outings
Don’t just pack the picnic, pack the bat, the ball, the bathers
- Have some rules around your screens
Make a family agreement to limit screen time for everyone and use the time you’ve freed up to get outside together. Turn off the TV and enjoy meals together.
- Winter is no barrier
Bad weather outside? There are plenty of ways to be active indoors. Games like hide-and-seek and treasure hunts are always a hit, as well as classic games like Twister. Or, for a bit of fun, turn up the music and have a family dancing contest!
- Make it part of your routine
If you try to see movement as an opportunity rather than an inconvenience, then everyday activities such as hanging the washing and collecting the mail are no longer a nuisance, they’re a chance to be active.
- Make the most of the weekend
Family days out are a great way to be active while spending quality time together, and it needn’t be expensive. Try bushwalking, family bike rides, backyard cricket, or a picnic in your local park; just remember to take hats, sunscreen and plenty of water. It’s a good way to tire out the kids and make sure they sleep well too!
- Send them outside
There is nothing inherent in our kids that make them sedentary. Send them outside and thewy will find a pet, a rock, as tick or a ball and they will play.
- Let them explore
Kids love to climb, to dig, to explore, to build cubby houses and sand castles. Give them the freedom and their health and development will blossom.