Go out and play! That’s no longer just the cry of the busy parent. Now it’s a message from the medical community. Childhood obesity is on the rise in Indian cities. Health professionals are emphasising that it is more important to encourage our children to engage in physical activity. In a recent research paper, two Indian doctors established the connection between child obesity and early onset of cardiac ailments.
But before I am accused of taking upon a preaching tone, let me also share the challenges for a typical city mom. Lack of safe public playgrounds – long distances that can’t be covered using public transport – extreme weather conditions, especially during the crucial summer vacations – and now we have air pollution. These challenges are compounded once the school hours extend to six hours and more. So it becomes easy, even preferable, to see your kid plop down on the sofa for half an hour of entertainment rather than see who’s around for a game of tag or other outdoor activity. Even schools are unable to cope with the sometimes divergent demands of increasingly activist parents.
It’s just not possible for them to provide the solution for everything. And it’s not just for parents of school-goers. I was alarmed to learn recently that medical studies have found child obesity to begin as early as two years of age.
Recently a real estate developer in Mumbai reached out to me and I was delighted to note that he was personally keen to have a children’s playground with high quality all-weather outside play activities. I am told that they have now placed a large order of Little Tikes outdoor activity sets, a leading brand of outdoor toys from USA. Parents should take a cue.
Sometimes the challenge is – how to get the kids to play, once you’ve got them out of the house. If there’s nothing fun to do outside, it’ll only be a matter of minutes before they’ve gravitated back to the TV or some other sedentary activity. Here toys can play an important role.
Riding Toys are great for developing gross motor skills. I personally like riding toys for they almost always require sharing and taking turns. Think beyond the cricket. The range of outdoor toys have improved over the years.
Be the Boss, Lay down the Rules
Don’t forget to make rules. Kids are less likely to whine and complain if the rule is clear and consistent. So for a small child, you may decide on outside play of thirty minutes a day. For a teenager, Internet usage could be fixed to certain hours. Lastly, be sure to make this rule clear to other adults who may care for the child, such as an older sibling, relative, or babysitter.
Let me know the struggles you’ve faced and any interesting solutions that you’ve developed by leaving a comment.
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