As a new school term begins, young children are seen entering the school grounds with their new schoolbooks and uniforms. Parent’s start to become emotional as the umbilical chord is cut a bit more as little Johnny starts to interact with new boys and girls. The teachers greet the children but underneath must be secretly noticing that with each generation of children passing through the doors that they are getting bigger. Junior infants wearing first class clothes are no longer a novelty but a familiarity as the kid’s physiques is starting to mimic that of their parents. Obese, overweight and lacking in energy has become the norm as the Monkey See Monkey Do nutrition becomes just one of the culprits of this rising obesity.
Inactivity in sports like soccer, Gaelic, rounders and even old games like chasing and knick the knocker are now substituted for computer games and TV where children receive the rest of their education. Due to the changes in the economy, parents are working longer hours and so they allow the TV to baby-sit our children. Slick marketers can then use the television as a medium to promote garbage foods that will hinder the health of your child. It is estimated that children have seen 40,000 TV advertisements by the age of six. These advertisements teach children how to nag and pester a parent into getting their way. “Take me to Mc Donald’s” is screamed as a child pulls on his parent’s coat tails. The parent feeling guilty obliges Little Johnny and we are left with a picture of a happy little Johnny and his mother in Mc Donald’s eating Bi-Macs. In reality, there is no happy ending to this story as little Johnny becomes Big Johnny, overweight, lethargic and withdrawn and in the long-term, another statistic on a doctor’s health chart.
Parents riddled with guilt are then tempted to combat the problem as little Johnny with boobs at age eight is starting to be ridiculed by parents of other children and kid’s at school. They think the solution to their problem is solved as Nintendo decide to release their computer game Wii Fit. There I was, thinking I was on the cutting edge, delivering state of the art fat loss training and nutrition programs online and at my highly regarded BFit4Life training facility. But apparently that is not the case. I saw lots of commercials and I just knew I had just got a glimpse of the future. Who needs highly educated, inventive, motivating trainers and nutritionists with years of in the trenches experience guiding you and your children every step of the way? Not you. All you need is a video game. Thank you, Nintendo Wii for truly helping the parents of Ireland. The parents can feel safe and comfortable in the knowledge that they are entrusting the future of their children’s health and fitness to the makers of Mario Brothers.
Throwing more money at the problem and abdicating your position and role, as a parent will not work as a solution. Parents need to be better role models to children and they need to help schools and sports clubs educate a child about good nutrition whilst giving them habits of being active for life. The schools are not been helped in promoting sports with the increasing number of litigious claims against them for kids falling in the playground. It is now not uncommon for running to be banned in schools because of this! Falling and getting up again is something that you learn from the time you were learning how to walk; yet I don’t remember suing my parents or teachers for the lesson!
This lack of activity does not allow children to develop their abilities in the playground. Research by Singer on Motor Learning confirmed that 90% of children’s co-ordination is developed by the age of 12. This means that if your kid hasn’t been active by this age he is never going to excel in the sporting field. Kids should learn to run, throw and jump and it should be done in games. So climbing ropes, monkey bars are excellent tools for developing strength in kids. Canadian Exercise Researcher Istvan Bayley has devoted his life to developing a formula into How to get your Kids to the Olympics in 20 years time. Istvan follows a 5,4,3,2,1 formula. When a kid is very young he should play as many as 5 sports if not more and as the years progress, the number gradually whittles down until he specialises in one. The larger the base of support i.e. number of sports the child plays the higher the peak of the pyramid will be when the child specialises in a single sport.
Become a living talking role model for your children. If you are healthy and active the laws of probability will say that if your kid follows the path you have lead, they will achieve similar results. Success leaves clues so if you are unsure about sports or nutrition seek the guidance of a professional. You can’t be the sage for advice for everything your kid wants to learn but you can be the catalyst for their success.