Physical culture for children- part 2

Preventing injury

The previous post was about preventing boredom.
This is mainly about preventing injury

If you follow 3 main priciples you can avoid most of the problems that occur with inappropriate exercise regimes.
We’re talking about human children. Not insect larvae. So….

1. Don’t be in a hurry. They have 80 years of life ahead of them
2. Don’t make them specialise too early.
3. Don’t be too fixed in your ideas about what sort of physical training is needed

Depending on age, the earlier they start, the better. Because the foundation needs to be laid.
From 3 to 6 years, all they need is running, crawling, walking, jumping, climbing, swimming, cycling. And they’re mostly going to be doing this all without any external motivation. Your job will be to get out of the way, rather than to yell at them about these activities being too dangerous. Watch, ensure safety, but not too much safety. Let them play in the rain dust and mud. It’s good for their mental health and immune system.
Too many restrictions and you’ll stunt their sense of adventure and risk taking. Of course, use common sense. Be prepared for minor scrapes, bruises, and the occasional inhalation of water.

Never push children to exhaustion. Actually, never push any living thing to exhaustion, unless you hate it and want it to die earlier. That includes your children, your pets and yourself.

When exhausted, children are more prone to make mistakes, fall or injure themselves. The muscular structure will also not be able to cushion impacts to the growing bone and cartilage. So long distance running/cycling/swimming etc, for the sake of setting records, is a bad idea. The more intense the effort, shorter it should be. Keep the sessions shorter than 40 minutes as a broad guideline. Sprints should be a part of games like tag and hide and seek. Never as part of a structured regime.
Trekking, cycling and swimming can all be done, but take breaks every half an hour. The emphasis should be on enjoying the outdoors, rather than covering a distance within a set time.

Do not let them specialise.
Don’t make them play the exact same game or sport daily. It’s not time for it yet. If they’re playing the same sport daily because that’s what their friends are playing, that’s a different matter. It’s not just training to them. It is then having fun and socializing themselves. That should take precedence over “training”

Do not force your children to follow your exact prescription. Especially as they get older. You’ll have to figure out ways to make things interesting and motivate them to do stuff that isn’t as fun, cool or interesting. Focus on the basics of movement, but the add ons can vary according to the child’s interests. You’ll somehow need to convince your children that the basics need to be focused on, even if they don’t like training those consistently. The basics- pushing, pulling, carrying, crawling, walking, running, jumping, swimming, climbing. There needs to be a lifelong emphasis on training these skills, over specialising in a particular skill or movement. This is what keeps humans functional and healthy. This is the foundation upon which specialised movement skills needs to be built. And this foundation, needs to be constantly inspected and kept in good repair.

Teaching or training only one sport is like teaching only 1 note to a musician, when there are basically 7, with thousands of ragas. In the case of movement, the variety even in the basics, far surpasses what is possible with music. So specialisation is taboo till they are on the cusp of adulthood. Especially cricket- it does very little to improve athleticism by itself. It requires athletic ability, but it does not improve athleticism the way most other sports do.

Make them teach.
Make them teach you and each other, if you have more than one child.
If you can’t go, ask them what they learnt in the class when they get back, and ask them to teach you.
1. Let them learn to teach.
2. And also let them build their confidence by teaching you.
3. It reinforces their own learning process.
4. Trains their communication skills.
5. It also motivates them to pay attention in class, because they know they have to get home and teach.

The subsequent parts that I intend to write on, will be more specific in terms of the types of training and tools to be used.

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