Ask any adult, and they will most likely say that some of their most treasured childhood memories involve playing sports and other physical games with family members and friends. Being physically confident and competent adds a special quality to life, and, as parents, we naturally want to encourage this in our children.
Children develop better physically when their parents do three basic things:
- Create the routines needed for them to get enough sleep;
- Introduce them to an active lifestyle, and
- Provide them with optimal nutrition.
Three to five-year-olds need anything between 10 and 13 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.
Finding every child’s sweet spot is key since children often appear to be coping on a minimum of 10 hours of shut-eye per day, while they may not actually be getting the amount of sleep they need for functioning optimally. This can have far-reaching consequences, causing them to eventually become less emotionally resilient, unable to focus on learning, less sociable and uninterested in physical activity.
On the upside, getting the right amount of sleep can boost a child’s activity levels, general happiness and ability to effectively deal with frustration and challenges.
When parents of three to five-year-olds experiment with earlier bedtimes and work on re-introducing daytime naps when needed, they often discover they have underestimated the amount of sleep their child needs, the value of a midday nap and the importance of starting the bedtime routine early in the evening.
Introducing children to an active lifestyle goes hand-in-hand with building physical literacy.
Making a healthy lifestyle a priority at home starts with parents leading the way and setting good fitness examples for children, regardless of age. However, developmental experts say parental involvement is especially important when children are between three and eight years old as this is the best time for building their physical literacy.
Practically speaking, this involves intentionally training them early in life to master certain basic movement skills that will eventually be instrumental for boosting their ability to participate in popular sports and leisure activities in primary school and beyond.
These skills, which are called the Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS), serve as the “building blocks” of more complex and specialised sport skills. And, by intentionally developing our children’s proficiency in them, we can develop both their physical competence and self-image in the sports arena.
The list of FMS includes learning to roll, balance, slide, jog, run (sprint), leap, jump, hop (on one leg), dodge, gallop and skip, as well as to object control skills such as bouncing, throwing, catching, kicking and striking.3
Each of the Fundamental Movement Skills involves specific movement patterns that build on each other.
Consequently, if we regularly help our children to practise them a few times a week, key techniques will soon become second nature to them, and they will naturally, step-by-step, become better coordinated and skilful.
For example, typical three-year-olds catch a tennis ball with their elbows bent in front of their bodies, while four-year-olds usually learn to keep their elbows nearer to their sides. This prepares them for learning, usually at five years of age, to catch a ball with two hands after bouncing it on the floor and then to practise catching it on the way down after tossing it into the air.
Children who are proficient in the FMS are not only more confident in the sports arena; researchers say they are also more likely to adopt a more active lifestyle as adults, enjoy exercise and participate in physical leisure activities.
Providing optimal nutrition also plays a key role in laying a strong foundation for physical development.
A balanced eating pattern for your child should include high-quality protein for building strong muscles in adequate amounts across all meals throughout the day. A preschool child’s daily protein needs vary depending on age, body size, growth rate, appetite and activity level. As a rule of thumb, a growing child should have 2 – 3 servings of protein a day.
NESTLÉ® NANKID® 4, made specifically for three to five-year-old children, contains OPTIPRO®. This is an optimised protein (a source of protein) consisting of the recommended quantity and quality to support your growing child’s specific needs.
This premium drink also provides added Bifidobacterium lactis (a naturally active culture). HMOs (to support the growth of good gut bacteria) to support the immune and digestive systems. Omega Smarts are essential fatty oils containing Omega 3 & Omega 6 and DHA to support brain and eye vision development.
It is therefore considered as a great choice for supporting physical development in growing children.
NESTLÉ® NANKID® 4 is ready to celebrate and support you as an engaged parent by providing you with a milestone reminder tool that is available to the parents of three- to five-year-olds, free of charge.
Sign up here to receive age-appropriate information on your child’s milestones on a monthly basis.
“NESTLÉ® NANKID® 4 is not a breast-milk substitute and is formulated to meet the changing nutrition needs of healthy young children older than 3-years”.