Manners Monday: Sit up Straight
Hunching and munching isn’t cool. Hunching, ever, is unattractive, impolite and even unhealthy. Yup, slouching can cause reduced lung function and permanent shoulder and back damage and painful digestive issues. See this article about the health implications of poor posture from Livestrong.com for details on that. We’re here to talk about how to make sure that these things don’t happen from a simple bad manner; bad posture. This week for Manners Monday we’re talking about sitting up straight and practicing good posture while sitting. It seems like La-Z-Boy couches and cushy mattresses and less structured home lives have led us to sit in the most awkward positions that we think are comfortable. If you work at a desk, do yourself a favor and sit with both feet on the floor and your back straight. It might be hard and even painful at first to retrain you body to do what’s actually good for it. (ask any dieter or person quitting smoking about that) Our kids, on the other hand, are setting those initial habits in stone for the first time. If we can get them to have good posture as their go-to from an early age, their bodies and other well-mannered people they encounter will thank them for a lifetime.
One of my favorite ways to start getting this rule into practice is to start a new rule that all eating must be done at the table whether it’s a snack or you’re eating take-out or having a family meal. Sitting together at the table means that you can not only help each other sit up straight but practice all of the other Manners Monday exercises, too! I’ll probably do a post on eating at the table, so I’ll stop here for now and get on with this week’s rule!
This Week’s Rule:
Sit up straight
Put it Into Practice:
Basically, any time that you sit down, sit up. Sitting up doesn’t just mean straightening your back. Put your shoulders down and roll them back, pull in your belly, don’t let your back touch the back of the chair, keep both feet on the floor, don’t arch your back, keep your shoulders and knees square with your hips.
Toddlers 1 – 3 years old:
For these kiddos, it’s best to take a light tack. Start by pressing your hand against their back while they’re sitting and saying, “sit up straight, please” in a kind and encouraging way. You can also put your other hand on the chest to help straighten the back gently, just so that they know what it feels like and what you’re trying to encourage. As soon as they sit up, give praise. yay! If they wiggle around in the chair or try to turn around after you’ve already shown them what to do several times, remind them to “sit up straight” and if they don’t do it, go back to the beginning. Just keep reminding them and showing them until they catch on.
Kids 3 – 9 years old:
Rally your family around the table for a meal, like you would, and then do a sitting up straight game. Whoever sits up straight correctly, after you demonstrate if necessary, gets to go get their plate. I’m not saying withhold dinner altogether but, it should be pretty easy to get everyone to do it if they’re hungry. Then, they’ll know what it feels like and while you’re eating you can talk about what makes sitting up important (see above) and how you are going to practice all week, every time you sit down and that you have to help each other remember. Make it into a song or rhyme like “sitting up straight feels great” or “don’t hunch and munch”. Award points for sitting on the sofa and other non-dining situation chairs and add them up to earn something really cool like a day at the beach or ice cream or whatever you know will get your kids pumped. If you catch them slouching after you’ve awarded them a point, you can call them out and give them a second chance. If they sit up straight, but slouch again, no point.
Have you tried other ways to help your kids sit up straight? What worked? What didn’t?