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Q&A: Exercise With Your Kids

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Q: My daughter is intrigued by the dynamic movements I do in my movement prep series and she tries to mimic them, but she's not getting it exactly right. How should I help?

A: Don’t sweat it. Trying to get kids to perform drills and other movement “properly” can actually be negative for them emotionally. It’s also unsound from a natural human growth and development perspective, which may sound like science babble, but as a parent, you really are your child’s most important coach. And as a parent/coach, there are a few things you should know:

Natural growth and development doesn’t allow children, and even some teenagers, to move as efficiently or with as much dexterity as adults. With pre-adolescents (6 – 11 year olds) the central nervous system is in the process of gaining skill as it relates to movement, and more importantly, efficient movement.

This simply means that we can’t expect a child to perform complex or even basic movement patterns with any degree of expertise. And that's fine. As your child sees you perform new movements and tries to mimic them, her body will naturally learn how to maneuver itself accordingly and then work at mastering this new skill.

This process is called “Guided Discovery," and it essentially means that the job of any trainer, coach, or parent is to provide new, fun and exciting movement patterns and games for children, and then allow them to learn the process of how to move efficiently. You supply the idea (guided) and allow the child to figure out the rest via positive encouragement (discovery).

Brian Grasso is the founder and CEO of the International Youth Conditioning Association. Learn more at iyca.org.

Tags: Q&A, Youth Fitness, Family

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