In my previous post I talked about squatting. Well here are some ideas for working on squatting with your kiddos.
- Playing in Squatting: For kids that won’t go into that full or deep squat to play and immediately go into kneeling I try to find a toy or book that they are really interested in and then I get them into the deep squat position and hold them there while we play or read the book. Depending on how uncomfortable they are in that position or how much they try to wiggle out of it will depend on how long hold it. I try to start short and work our way up to longer bouts. Ideally they will start to get more comfortable in this position and begin trying to play. If they are really hard to get into the position, I will often have them sit right in front of me and then bend their knees so their feet are flat on the floor close to their bottom and then use my body to shift them forward onto their feet into the squatting position. If anyone has other ideas for this one I would love to hear them!
- Mini Squats: A lot of times I use mini squats to begin teaching kids how to bend their knees to figure out how to squat down to pick something up off of the floor or to lower themselves to the floor. I will usually start this one when they are still cruising along different support surfaces by placing toys they like just slightly out of their reach (not all the way to the floor) so they will have to begin reaching down for the toy. Once they start that I begin to move the toy lower and lower until they are beginning to bend their knees slightly to pick the toy up. To progress this you can use a toy shopping cart and put toys along the floor so they have to walk to pick up the toys. If kids are comfortable enough they will begin to squat past the mini squat but some won’t. By using the shopping cart or push toy they are able to get a little extra stability from their arms so that they don’t have to rely completely on their legs.
- Mid Squat (90 degrees): This one is the most challenging I think because by this point the kiddos will either go down onto their knees and then stand back up to get the toy they want or they will do a mini squat and just bend even more at the hips (which by the way is what most adults do and its bad for our backs as adults!). One of the things I mentioned was getting kids comfortable with letting their legs move forward over their feet. (1) We have a few wedges that we use at work and one of the things I’ve been doing is having them stand uphill on the wedge to play with something in standing whether its the sticky balls on the window, the easel or even the iPad that I’m holding in front of them. If I can make it a toy they don’t get to hold onto for support even better. Make sure their toes are pointing forward though and not out to the side so that they are getting input into their ankles in the correct position. (2) One of the things I tried recently with a kiddo who wouldn’t squat all the way down was to have her stand on a small wedge and I put a ring toss in front of her on the floor. She had to bend down to pick up the rings before she could throw them. The combination of standing uphill, having the rings be below the level of her feet and I think the slightly unsteady surface (the wedge is a little bit squishy) all helped her to go into a mid squat each time she picked up the rings (on a flat surface she will only use a mini squat). (3) Another thing we have used is having a toy in front of them that is flat on the floor like a puzzle and they have to stand up for the pieces but squat down to put them in the puzzle (opposite of what you would normally think to do) and because they have to concentrate they will try to hold the squat a little longer and go a little deeper. (4) Another great idea is to have a chair where they sit with their knees bent to a 90 degree angle or even a little deeper. Have them stand up to get a toy and then hold the toy in both hands while they try to sit down without ‘crashing’. By holding the toy in two hands they are less likely to try to use their hands to help with sitting down.
Hopefully some of these ideas are helpful and use different variations of them. Part of a toy on the ground and part up higher are usually a good way to get lots of reps of squatting (You could use the marble and pool tube idea from a few posts ago). Also trying to put the toy below the level of the feet so having them stand on a slight height will encourage them to bend more so they can reach further. Having them stand on a slightly unstable surface like a couch pillow or high density foam or balance disc (if they are stable enough) will also encourage squatting more than bending at the hips because if they bend too far forward they may feel like they are going to lose their balance. I would love to hear ideas that other people have used!