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Posted on 05-10-2016

In old movies, children are often seen balancing books on their heads to learn good posture.

Those days are gone, but that doesn’t mean posture is no longer important. These days, with so many children hunching forward to use their computers and tablets, it’s just as critical for healthy kids, said Dr. Hanaa Abdelmessih, a pediatrician for Licking Memorial Health Systems.

Children with poor posture often stand or sit with their shoulders hunched and their necks bent forward, Abdelmessih said. That can lead to back pain, shoulder pain, headaches, digestive problems and stress.

Having poor posture also can affect a child’s self esteem, she said.

Sitting slumped down and peering down at electronic devices aren’t the only things that cause bad posture. Carrying a book bag that weights more than 20 pounds on a regular basis also can cause problems, Abdelmessih said.

There are lots of ways parents can encourage their children to have better posture, she said.

“I think the least effective method is nagging,” she said. “It’s not going to work to just tell them.”

Try to offer your children chairs that force them to sit up straight and don’t allow them to slouch down. It’s also important to make sure your computer room is set up so devices are at eye level and children don’t have to look down.

“Try not to introduce devices early on and limit their use, maybe to a certain number of minutes a day,” Abdelmessih said.

Remind your kids to wear their backpacks correctly and evenly on both shoulders.

“They should not hunch forward and they should have it supported by their whole body,” she said.

Footwear also can have an affect on posture. Athletic shoes are much better than flip-flops, and parents can encourage children to wear them by buying them shoes they like, she said.

Another easy way to improve posture is to get children involved in activities that require them to move. Even if they aren’t interested in sports, simply taking a walk, participating in a dance class or going roller skating will help.

“Get them moving more, try yoga or Pilates. Even swimming will help your posture,” she said.

by Anna Jeffries  www.NewarkAdvocate.com

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