School is officially back in session. And for parents, that means your kids are learning new things and making new friends. Exciting!
But it also means they’re wearing backpacks, sitting in chairs, and working at desks much more often. Which spells more stress on their backs, necks and shoulders.
We get it–it can be hard to get our kids to do anything, much less have good posture. But if your child is showing signs of poor posture, correcting that now can save them strain on their spinal joints, abnormal growth of the spine and even arthritis later in life.
What is correct posture?
Contrary to popular belief, proper posture does not mean a 100% straight spine. You do want your back straight and shoulders back. But there is some natural curvature of the spine in an ‘S’ shape. The top of the back and shoulders curve forward a bit while the lower back has a dip.
While sitting, try to prevent your child’s feet from dangling. Place any reading or viewing material about an arm’s length away and as close to eye level as possible, in order to prevent them from looking down too much and straining their neck.
11 parenting tips to help correct your kids’ posture
1. Backpack rules
Make sure your child is wearing a backpack with broad shoulder straps pulled up (rather than hanging low off their shoulders). A waist strap can also help lessen the load. Encourage them to wear their backpack on both shoulders rather than just one.
As a general rule of thumb, your child’s backpack shouldn’t exceed 15% of their body weight. Rolling backpacks are a viable alternative if they have to carry more weight than that on a consistent basis.
2. Proper sitting posture
You want your child to avoid sitting too far forward hunched over. Bou also want them to avoid sitting too far back in a slouched position.
Simply telling them to “sit up straight” may result in them trying to sit in a too-rigid position. Instead, tell them to sit on their “sitting bones”–the protruding bones you can feel most prominently if you slide your hand under your buttocks.
3. Physical activity
One way to counteract poor sitting posture is by preventing your kids from sitting too long. Encourage them to take breaks for physical activity. This will keep their sitting muscles loose as well as strengthen them.
4. Alternative seats
Instead of an ordinary chair, consider a more back-healthy alternative. Options include ball chairs, t-stools and wobble chairs. These will help them activate the stabilizing muscles in their core, back, hips and legs–not to mention keep them from fidgeting in their seats.
5. Age-appropriate furniture
Where possible, age-appropriate furniture will help your child learn to sit properly. Chair and tables that are proportionate to the size of their bodies will allow them to sit with their feet on the floor and their backs straight.
6. Reward good posture
Remember that your child responds more strongly to validation of what they do well rather than correction of what they do wrong. Both are necessary in parenting, but be very careful that you aren’t only talking about their posture when it’s wrong. If you see them sitting up straight or walking with their shoulders back, tell them!
7. Orthotics and braces
In some cases, a pediatric brace or orthotic may be necessary for your child. They’re incredibly effective and easy to use. They can help improve spinal positioning, muscle activation, and stability.
8. Be a good example
As trite as it may sound, you as a parent have a huge role in demonstrating to your kids proper posture. Our kids learn more by osmosis than they do by direct instruction.
So be sure that you’re doing your best to follow these principles yourself. Your kids may even be encouraged by watching you sometimes fail and correct yourself. They’ll feel like you’re in it together rather than on their own.
If problems with your child’s posture are persisting beyond these at-home tips, it may be that they need the help of a professional. A chiropractor can make simple, safe adjustments to bring greater alignment and better posture.
If you’re in the greater Tacoma/Seattle area, give us a call at Petett Chiropractic and we can help your child sit straight, walk tall and exude more confidence!