July 19, 2023

Let’s Get Active: Why Our Little People Need to Move!

From the moment a child is born, they have an innate need to move. As they grow and develop, this need only becomes stronger. Movement is critical to a child’s physical and mental wellbeing and is essential for the developing brain and body.

The importance of movement can be seen in the development of the brain. Movement stimulates the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is crucial for developing new neural connections in the brain. These new connections are what allow us to learn, problem-solve, and develop new skills. Without movement, the brain would not be able to develop in the way it needs to function properly.

Movement is also essential for the development of the body. Children develop their gross and fine motor skills as they move and play. Gross motor skills involve large muscle movements, such as crawling, walking, and running, while fine motor skills involve smaller muscle movements, such as grasping objects and writing. These skills are crucial for everyday tasks, such as getting dressed, playing sports, and even writing and typing.

Furthermore, movement has been linked to children’s emotional regulation and mental wellbeing. Physical activity releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce stress. It also provides a healthy outlet for pent-up energy and can help children cope with difficult emotions.

Unfortunately, the over-use of technology and our sedentary lifestyles have made it harder for children to get the movement they need. Many kids spend hours sitting in front of screens and are not getting enough physical activity. Even schools have reduced the amount of physical activity a child can access daily. This can have serious consequences for their health, both physical and mental.

Have you noticed that your child’s behaviours can escalate after returning home from school? Many children experience some level of stress at school, and stress creates an adrenaline overload in the body. When this builds up in their bodies during the day, they have a physical need to release this adrenaline when they get home. However, sitting down to do homework straight away, or sitting in front of a screen, doesn’t allow the adrenaline to be released from the body. 

We can all help by encouraging our children to move and play after school. This can involve activities such as running, jumping, climbing, and playing sports. Even simple things like taking a walk or riding a bike can help. Additionally, parents can limit screen time and encourage their children to move around during the day, such as taking breaks for stretching or playing.

In conclusion, movement is essential for a child’s development and wellbeing, both physically and mentally. A child with enough movement and physical activity is likelier to have a healthier brain and body, better motor skills, and improved emotional regulation. As parents and caregivers, we are responsible for encouraging and providing opportunities for movement and play, ensuring that screen time is limited so children can get the physical activity they need.

With Gratitude

Danielle Hayes

Founder, Child & Adolescent Counsellor