Teaching the habits of good posture early in a child's life can save her from later discomfort, pain and poor appearance. Among the culprits leading to poor posture in youth are heavy backpacks, poor habits--such as sitting in school with the chin jutted forward and resting on the hand--or slouching in a chair. Scoliosis and other back problems can also contribute to posture problems. A few exercises can help your child develop and maintain healthy posture.
Shoulder Blade Squeeze
The shoulder blade squeeze is performed by the child standing with her arms straight out from the shoulders. She then bends her elbows so her hands are shoulder height, palms up. She squeezes her shoulder blades together and holds for five seconds. Relax and ask her to repeat it five times. Better Homes and Garden magazine suggests starting posture exercises just once a day, but gradually increasing the frequency to three times per day.
Neck and Head Alignment
Backward resistance is an effective exercise for neck and head alignment. Ask the child to place his hands behind his head, fingers interlocked, elbows pointing out. He should then gently push his hands forward at the same time he pushes his head backward to create resistance. Ask him to maintain his head in proper alignment while feeling the resistance of the hands. Hold for five to 10 seconds and repeat three times.
Back and Shoulder Wall Angels
Wall angels are fun for children because they are reminiscent of making snow angels in the winter. Ask the child to stand against a wall with her feet shoulder-width apart. She should then gently press her lower back against the wall. She then places her elbows, forearms and wrists against the wall, palms facing forward. Next she should raise and lower her arms in a small arc while keeping them in contact with the wall at all times. Work up to performing this exercise 10 times.
Join a Movement Class
Movement classes, such as dance, gymnastics, yoga for kids, ice skating or swimming, can provide a child with increased body awareness, motor skills and confidence. Some of these classes emphasize posture, and all help improve core strength. Core muscles are the deep abdominal and back muscles that stabilize and support your body as it moves. It is important to have strong core muscles for a healthy back and good posture.