Is Your Toddler Sitting Too Much?Beth Anne Ballance
Apparently couch-potato habits start early and toddlers these days are sitting way too much.
Probably not a shocker to anybody, right? We’re an overweight and sedentary society. But the big news is that kids are becoming more sedentary, modeling after their parents behavior. In a study at Oregon State University, “researchers looked at 200 families with children ages two to four to determine how parenting styles affect children’s physical activity levels. All the children spent four to five hours sitting during a typical day, but children of parents who weren’t home often and spent less time with their children spent up to 30 additional minutes a day watching television or sitting in front of a computer screen.” (c/o NY Daily News)
But that points to my family — we only spend roughly 3 hours awake at home on the weekdays, but we are plenty active. When we are home, we’re usually in the backyard. Or the boys are wrestling with the dog. Hell, I’ve even been known to chase Harrison in laps around our downstairs to burn off his energy. According to the study and its leader, David Schary, parents don’t make it up with super-active weekends either. Which is strange to me because as a kid, we played soccer and had swim meets and rec basketball games on the weekends. My husband spends time out on the golf course. (And we’ve already signed up Harrison for soccer in the fall, so this tradition carries.) So I have to say that I’m sure his study points to a majority, but it does not apply to our family.
All in all, the approach to reporting the study leaves a bad taste in my mouth — it seems to point fingers towards lazy parents.
But I do have a few theories as to why this does apply to many families, and it’s not for negative reasons or laziness as the study might suggest:
First, this study includes sedentary activities like coloring, reading, building blocks, tea parties, etc. While yes, the child is sedentary, he’s not simply zoned out in front of a television. He’s working his brain and his speech skills and fine motor skills and imagination. I see that as just as important as kicking a soccer ball or working major muscles.
see also: you will probably never hear me say, “No, Harry. Stop reading that book right now and go play soccer.”
Secondly, parents are less likely these days to toss their kids outside for free play. I have been known to send Harrison out into our (fenced) backyard with me watching from the living room or kitchen, but we also live on a safe street in a safe neighborhood where we know our neighbors. Not everyone has that luxury, especially in a city. As a kid, I was tossed outside to play for hours on weekends but my mother didn’t have the same safety concerns in 1988 that we do today.
So I have to say that from where I stand, I give a big thumbs down to this study.
Yes, kids are more sedentary. But I don’t think the study is painting the entire picture of parenting today. We’re not lazy, we’re just different.
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