PARENT anxiety and bans on schoolyard activities such as cartwheels and handstands are robbing children of the chance to reach their physical potential, according to a local fitness coach.
Myaree CrossFit coach Rebecca Halliday said there were more and more barriers to encouraging children’s physical activity.
‘It must be asked whether parents would prefer a healthy, happy child who engages in regular physical activity and occasionally comes home with a scraped knee, or one who is scared to try new activities due to fear of failing,’ she said.
‘Children need to be challenged so they can learn that sometimes they won’t be able to make it, they have to work for it.
‘If we never make a mistake we never learn and I think people underestimate children; they will rise to the challenge.’
She said the key was to make exercise fun while ensuring correct technique.
‘Making it fun gives you a chance to teach new skills at the same time. It’s like sneaking vegetables into their dinner; they don’t even realise they are learning because they are having so much fun,’ she said.
Palmyra psychologist Karen Ingram agreed parenting out of anxiety or fear could hold children back.
‘Obviously it is very important that children are kept safe and protected, but in some ways the efforts to achieve this mean children have more limited opportunities for exploratory life and play experiences that are active, meaningful and challenging,’ she said.
‘Exposure to these experiences are the main way we learn to manage and cope, so children are being given less opportunity to learn to be self-reliant, competent and solve problems independently.’
She said children developed when given the chance to overcome challenges.
‘It is only when we are exposed to challenging experiences that we learn the value of qualities like perseverance, persistence, acceptance and problem solving, all of which are important life coping skills,’ she said.
‘Parents could help their children develop resilience by coaching them through life’s upsets and difficulties.
‘Having children know that sometimes life is disappointing, unfair and upsetting, for example, is part of the experience of being human and they know what to do in response to these feelings.
‘Being there to listen attentively, show interest and kindness in response to the feelings, helping them work out what they might do next time instead and then send them on their way is more often than not the best parenting response.’