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Guest Posts Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Super Activities for Super Kids

Yoga for Kids: 10 Tips for Flexible Fun

Yoga for Kids

Yoga can be as relaxing and beneficial for our children as it is for us; and what’s better is it can be an activity you and your child do together.

Perhaps you’re wondering if your child will stay still, or even be able to remain quiet enough to allow themselves to relax. The good news is that there are specifically designed poses for children that you can easily teach them.

By following a few of the simple guidelines below, you and your child can prepare for a joyous and relaxing yoga experience together.

Yoga for Kids

1. There really is no age limit (beyond toddler) as to when to start yoga for kids, however, children under six can usually do exercises that last for about one minute, with their session ending by the 15 minute mark.

2. Children over 6 can handle exercises that last up to 1 ½ minutes, with sessions maxing out around 25 minutes.

3. Try not to push too hard for perfection. Remember that they are kids learning these poses for the first time. Encourage them to breathe correctly and follow the pose the best that they can.

4. Always try to demonstrate the exercise before having your child attempt it. They will grasp the pose with the visual demonstration much faster than just telling them what the pose is supposed to look like. Playing follow the leader is a great way to do this.

5. Offer your child lots of breaks. Adults need breaks after strenuous exercise, so be aware of the cues your child gives you to signal they have had enough.

6. No one should have tummies that are too full when attempting yoga poses. Perhaps offering the lesson before lunch could ensure they will feel their best while exercising.

7. Don’t compare children to each other or to yourself. They will hopefully do the best they can to learn the poses as accurately as possible, but if not, turning it into a competition will ultimately defeat the purpose of learning yoga for kids.

8. Use descriptive language; turning the lesson into a storyline that can be fun and interactive as they try to stretch and lean a certain way to progress through the jungle or forest.

9. Let your child show you how they are learning the yoga poses, offering them positive feedback so they will be encouraged to continue learning and practicing.

10. When teaching the poses to your child, pick some of the easier ones, give them a cute name, and demonstrate that pose to your child before asking them to do it themselves. Almost any pose can be simplified for a young child, enabling you to exercise together without frustration.

Yoga for Kids

There are some neat benefits of yoga for kids learning at an early age. It can help promote flexibility and a health, improve concentration and calmness, boost self-esteem, and help children deal with difficult emotions.

So roll out the mats and enjoy a stress-relieving exercise that you and your child can do together!

Yoga for Kids: 10 Tips for Flexible Fun

About the Author

Christina Stoltz is a fitness instructor and Owner of Philadelphia Pilates studio named Ploome. She is a frequent author and speaker on all things fitness.

Categories
Guest Posts Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

Why It’s Physiologically Vital for Kids to Play Outdoors (and 5 Easy Ways to Do it)

kids play outdoors 1
Image © Kassandra Brown

When parents call me for parent coaching services because the are having trouble with disrespect, inattention, poor behavior, poor follow-through, and poor listening, one of the most common questions I ask is “What’s your relationship to play outdoors?”

The Importance of Movement

Getting outside and playing builds balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, and hand-eye coordination. When we don’t practice, we lose these skills. (This is true for adults as well as kids.) I’m amazed at how after a day on the computer, I’m not really in my body. I’m more likely to bump into walls, trip over my feet, and make poor word choices.

I’m not used to interacting with human beings if I’ve been typing all day. It takes effort and concentration for me to shift back into my body. When I get outside and toss a ball with my girls, I have to exert effort to track it. And I’m an adult with my brain wiring largely in place.

For kids big muscle and outdoor play may be even more important since their brains are still forming neural connections so rapidly. If they don’t practice moving their bodies and connecting with the earth while they are young, it will likely be harder for them to develop coordination later.

Movement makes people happier and healthier in more ways than just cardiovascular fitness:

  • When we move we breathe more deeply, bringing in more oxygen and cleansing our bodies more fully of carbon dioxide.
  • Our joints get lubricated through movement, our muscles get stronger, and our proprioception (felt sense of where we are in space) gets better.
  • The horizon is farther away and our eyes get to focus up close and far away, making the eyes stronger and less likely to need glasses.
  • Running, jumping, walking and playing take the focus off of small muscle tasks like writing, art, computer work, computer games, and crafts, letting those fine motor skills muscles relax and recover while giving the bigger muscles a chance to get stronger and engages different parts of the brain.

Sounds great, right? Moving around outside generally makes people happier, less frustrated, and healthier. Here are some simple ways to practice right now. No toys or accessories needed.

5 Easy Ways to Play Outdoors

kids play outdoors 3
Image © Kassandra Brown

1. Visit Local Water

We have a pond we like to go to for swimming, playing in the mud, hanging out with friends, and challenging our ‘ick’ factor. Catching frogs and crawdads gets us closer to nature. Watching the snapping turtle and water snake give us a better respect for the non-malevolence of nature and how to co-exist with it.

2. Engage in Winter Fun

Making snow angels, cracking ice at the pond, and sledding are good winter activities. Broom ball, hockey and ice skating are good for slightly older kids. It’s so vital to get outside, get some sun and fresh air and feel free of the confines of indoors in the winter.

3. Volunteer at a Local Farm

We like to visit our friend’s farm. They have three daughters close in age to my own girls. These three girls are responsible and helpful on their farm. They do not just play with the animals. Children also need to learn responsibility, and taking care of animals or plants outdoors is a good way for them to learn to care for another living creature. The best way to teach them this? Have them see other people their age being responsible as well as seeing you volunteer, help out, and learn even if you’re not good at it yet.

4. Take Quiet Time Together

Familykids play outdoors 2
Image © Kassandra Brown

Try going for a walk together at sunset. This is good for babies in arms (wear them) and older children. As a quiet bonding activity that the whole family can take at their own pace, evening walks can help with the transition from daytime frenzy to nighttime quiet. Bikes or scooters allow bigger kids to go a head at their own pace. To make it more special, you can have a shared destination or even a dinner picnic at the end of the walk.

5. Relish Spontaneous Moments

My daughter and I chased the trash truck for a half hour around our neighborhood. We were both barefoot because I thought we were just going out onto the porch for a moment to watch the truck at our house. Instead we enjoyed lots of laughing and fun watching the arm come out of the truck over and over again and pick up the trash cans. We made the driver’s day too.

What do you like to do outside? What activities bring you together with your kids? Let us know in the comments.

Kassandra Brown is a parent coach and yoga teacher living at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in rural Missouri. She coaches through Skype and phone and commutes with her two feet while walking outside.

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After-School Activities Sports Super Activities for Super Kids

5 Tips for Getting Your Children Excited About Kids Sports

Kids excited about sports baseball cookies
Photo by Flickr user VensPaperie

These days, it can be pretty tough to get kids to do something as simple and engaging as playing kids sport.

Though it seems slightly crazy, throwing a ball around or running around with friends will often take second place to video games, TV, cell phones, and the internet.

Many parents despair at the time their kids spend in front of a screen when they themselves spent their childhoods playing outside with nothing but nature and friends for amusement (and maybe a ball and some roller-skates if they were lucky). And the frightening statistics about obesity levels don’t help.

Getting kids excited about sports so they voluntarily switch off the TV can be tough, but it’s a challenge we all need to face up to. The National Center for Health Statistics has found that 30 percent of American adults are already obese (some 60 million people) and no one wants that for their child.

The effect of exercise on overall health is a pretty compelling case for getting your children into kids sports. And getting your kids excited about sports now is an excellent groundwork for a healthy and happy future. But it’s not always easy going.

Here are 5 tips to get reluctant kids away from their LCD screens and excited about kids sports.

1. Make it Fun

Kids excited about sports boy playing tennis
Photo by Flickr user KrissZPhotography

Both kids and adults will respond far less positively to any activity that feels like a chore, so making exercise fun is a great way to get kids excited about it.

Classes like Zumba, which incorporates dance moves into exercise, are ideal for making the experience one they will want to repeat, as well as developing a sense of rhythm and physical confidence.

2. Join in Too

Kids excited about sports family basketball
Photo by Flickr user xcode

This doesn’t mean that you need to start stepping in for your kid at sports games and classes, criticizing them when they don’t kick high enough, or shouting at them from the sidelines!

Instead, take a healthy interest in the sports your child is interested in – play tennis with them to help work on eye to hand coordination or join a combined kids and adults softball team. Play together for some healthy bonding time, like a family basketball game, once a week.

The exercise will be good for everyone and it’s one of the few times you can bond without other distractions.

3. Let Your Child Decide

Kids excited about sports horseback riding
Photo by Flickr user micmol

You may love horseback riding, but does he?

There’s probably nothing less motivating for a kid – particularly those of a certain age – than being told that they have to do a certain sport (or a certain anything).

Whether it’s because it’s a sport you wished you had excelled at as a child, or one you think they have talent for, forcing kids to do something they clearly don’t want to do is rarely constructive.

That’s not to say: let off the hook. Make it clear that some sort of sport is compulsory, but let them choose the one that is right for them.

4. Set an Example

Kids excited about sports join in
Photo by Flickr user CaptQuirk

You may run in to problems with getting your kids to exercise if you never do any yourself.

Why should they get up off the couch if you never do?

The best way to lead is from the front, so start setting your own exercise goals. Share your achievements and the positive effects sports and exercise have on your life with the rest of your family.

5. Encourage Them

Kids excited about sports encourage them
Photo by Flickr user PanARMENIAN_Photo

Although you don’t have to be a hard-as-nails soccer mom or dad, pushing your child to be better than everyone else, a measure of encouragement goes a long way when it comes to getting kids into sports.

Help them set their own goals, whether it’s being good enough to join a team, or learning a new skill. Willingly shuttle them around to practices and matches.

A positive attitude to your kid’s interest in sport will make them want to take it further.

Guest blogger Amy Sawyer writes for Go Mammoth sports leagues.