The broad topic here is mental and emotional health, because as inevitably as night follows day, mental and emotional problems will manifest through the body, and destructive fat is one of their favorite channels. Childhood Obesity News mentioned a recent meta-study whose message is worth repeating:
[S]ignificant associations were found between greater amounts of sedentary behavior and both increased psychological ill-being (i.e. depression) and lower psychological well-being (i.e. satisfaction with life and happiness) in children and adolescents.
In a manner of speaking, we are all allergic to sitting around. But not everyone has suitable recreational opportunities, especially in a plague situation. No one wants more of that, but the virus seems to have other ideas and intentions for us. Apparently, its newest iteration is as transmissible as measles, which is known for being ridiculously contagious. The upcoming winter could be like nothing we have ever seen before.
Even without a pandemic, a parent cannot always have the luxury of time to indulge an older child and meet the needs of a younger child. Some people live with a whole family in three rooms, or even one room, so many amusement ploys are unworkable. But everybody can’t just sit around and stare at an electronic device all the time. Sedentary, depressed, and joyless kids are likely to become obese kids.
A little help is better than none
Still, as many authorities have pointed out, even a small amount of activity can change the inner environment and promote overall health. If seclusion becomes preferable or even enforced, it is good to be ready with some original and creative entertainment ideas. Of course, places are different, and children’s safety is always important. In a neighborhood where outside play is safe, choose it because of:
1) fresh air
2) easier cleanup
3) chance of improved caregiver sanity
4) farther from the kitchen
Some activities suggested for outdoors could work fine in a garage or basement where a bit of mess or spillage (or noise) can be tolerated. Practice carrying a cup, a bowl, or a pitcher of water from place to place without spilling. Practice pouring neatly. If you happen to save up bubble wrap, the little bubbles are fun to pop with fingers, and the big ones are fun to stomp. Empty plastic bottles can be used to set up a bowling game. Or they can be arrayed across a floor at intervals and knocked down one by one. With materials at hand, kids can improvise their own version of the “Twister” game.
A child who is fairly new at walking can practice stepping up and stepping down, forward and backward, to develop muscle memory before encountering an actual curb. As this page illustrates, it is not that hard to construct a rudimentary balance beam. For smaller children, it is even helpful to practice on a wide board set very low.
Winter Bonus Idea: Fill three or four spray bottles with water tinted in different colors with food coloring, and let kids spray-paint colorful designs on snow.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Role of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in the Mental Health of Preschoolers, Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Meta Analysis,” BachLab.pitt.edu, 04/16/19
Images by Jennifer T., VSPYCC, mel0808johnson, VSPYCC/CC BY 2.0