Sit up straight, shoulders back!!!!!!!

Sound familiar? More than likely!

Sitting up straight isn’t just about how we look. Whether or not we have good posture (being able to maintain an upright position) also impacts our ability to:

  • Do athletic tasks such as running and skipping with rope
  • Perform fine motor (small hand and arm movement) tasks such as writing, opening containers and tying shoelaces
  • Concentrate (sustain focus on a specific task)
  • Interact socially by making eye contact and adopting body language that’s appropriate for the situation

The habits of how we sit in day-to-day settings are formed when we’re very little – and we all know that bad habits are hard to break. That’s why it’s so important that your youngster develops good postural habits as early as possible.

Having a strong, stable core (the lower middle section of the body that includes the pelvis, lower back and abdomen) means that junior’s shoulders, arms and hands are more stable and even more mobile.

Without good postural control (being able to control their posture in a variety of positions), little miss or mister may find it hard to maintain an upright posture, fatigue easily or struggle with fine motor (small hand and arm movement) tasks.

How posture develops

After spending months cosy and warm in the womb, your newborn had no control or strength in their limbs and spine.

As the months passed by though, each of their seemingly random (and super cute!) kicks was a workout for your little one’s core strength and their legs. No doubt Mum was pretty relieved that the kicks were happening in the outside world, too!

When junior was around 5 months old, the act of curiously looking around to better see their surroundings also concentrated the development of their back muscles.

This helped your youngster to lift their head (which was oversized in relation to their body at this stage) and prepare for the big step of being able to roll.

Rolling from the tummy onto the back activated their core muscles so that by the time little miss or mister was 7–10 months old they were able to sit upright.

And it’s been a work in progress to encourage this upright posture ever since!

How do I know if my child is having difficulty with their posture?

Your child may need help with their posture if they do any of the following:

  • ‘Slump’ or ‘hunch’ their shoulders while sitting or standing
  • Rest their head in their hands
  • Look tired or distracted
  • Wriggle and/or change position regularly
  • Rock on their chair

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Ways you can help your child with their posture

If you think junior would benefit from developing their posture, have a go at these fun activities:

  • Doing sit ups (lying on their back with their feet on the floor and lifting the torso into a sitting position, preferably touching their hands to the knees, before lying flat again) – if they’re having difficulty maintaining the positions get your youngster to hold a beanbag between their knees
  • Being ‘aeroplanes’ (lying on the stomach and lifting their head, arms and feet off the floor and holding this position for as long as possible)
  • Doing ‘tummy curls’ or being ‘shy bugs’ (lying on their back, rolling up into a ball and holding for as long as possible)
  • Walking like a crab (walking sideways on their hands and feet with the stomach facing the sky)
  • Clambering over jungle gyms
  • Walking along a rope placed on the ground with a bean bag balancing on the head
  • Doing leg lifts (standing next to a chair with one hand on the backrest, lifting one bent knee to their waist and holding, before alternating legs)      
  • Doing ‘wheelbarrow walks’ while picking up objects (where you hold their legs so they walk on their hands in a plank position, while using alternating hands to pick objects up off the floor)
  • Doing a ‘plank’ (supporting the upper body on their forearms and the lower body on their toes)
  • Playing ball games (e.g. throwing and catching) in a kneeling position
  • Lying on the stomach when watching TV or reading a book

When they’re sitting down, make sure your little one’s:

  • Bottom is at the back of the chair
  • Feet are flat on the floor or a footrest (for added height, you can even use telephone books!)
  • Desk height allows them to have their elbows at a 90° angle
  • Body is aligned with the centre of the chair

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Combined Videos

Combining several foundation skills, our PlayBiz Play-a-Long videos run for 10 minutes or so. We’ve carefully ordered the activities so they enable your youngster to have an optimal learning experience and develop the skills they’ll need for school by joining in the ‘teachable moments’. Picture a fun and educational TV program like PlaySchool crossed with an occupational therapy session that’s chock full of strategies. Ready, steady, learn! Please note: The Play-a-Long videos don’t need to be viewed in any particular order.