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Does your child slouch? Maybe it’s due to a too-big backpack, or from a too-low computer. In some cases, slouching is a tall kid’s adaptation to life with shorter friends.

Nearly every mother has said “Stand up straight!” And while good posture will help the child “look better” and appear more confident, there are plenty of physical reasons why it’s a good habit to encourage.

Why bad posture is bad

Sitting and standing in a slouched position puts undue pressure on points in the body that can lead to health problems over time. Improper posture can place strain on muscles, ligaments, joints and bones in the child’s back. When this happens while the child is growing, the result can be abnormal positioning and growth of the spine. There can be higher risk of arthritis in adult years.

Why good posture is good

Good posture helps back muscles relax, which aligns joints and bones in the spine. With this, there is less risk of arthritis and bone degeneration in later years. Good posture also reduces backaches, fatigue and other pains. Good posture is a good habit that has rewards throughout life.

What exactly is good posture?

Straight is the keyword. In a chair, the child’s back should be straight with shoulders back. The spine should be a natural S position, with buttocks back in the chair.

Standing, the child’s back should be straight with shoulders back. Chin should be up. The rest of the body falls into a straight alignment. Hips and feet should evenly support the child’s weight.

How you can improve your child’s posture?

Harping on bad posture won’t work well with kids (or anyone). The best ploy is to be a good role model. First, show them how to sit and stand properly. Make sure you follow your own advice. Give gentle reminders when you see bad posture at home. But also give praise for good posture.

For many people (including kids) the slouching develops as the day wears on. This is especially true at the computer desk. A child-sized chair can make it easier for a child to sit properly. Encourage your child to take frequent breaks. Stretching helps to relieve tired muscles.

Physical activity will strengthen back muscles and improve posture over time. Kids will be able to hold good posture longer as their back muscles develop strength.

Good posture is harder for some kids

Kids with certain health problems have a tougher time with posture. Weight gain and weak back muscles make it harder to sit or stand straight.

In some cases, kids may benefit from physical therapy programs designed to strengthen their backs and shoulders. In rare cases, the child may have a spine condition that requires a back brace or surgery.

If your child has back pain and has difficulty standing straight and upright, schedule an appointment with a pediatrician. To connect with one of our pediatricians visit us online at StVincentSWIN.org/4DOC or call today 812-485-4DOC.