Improving Self-Image Through Movement

An age-by-age guide to building body confidence.

Introduction

Girl rollerblading

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The boundless energy of children is exhilarating -- and sometimes exhausting! But experts say it's your child's always-on-the-go attitude that helps her develop the motor skills and body confidence she'll need throughout her life.

"Participating in physical activities gives kids the chance to feel good about themselves and their accomplishments," says Linda K. Bunker, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. It also helps ward off future self-image problems -- even eating disorders, she adds.

It's never too early to get little ones in motion. "Most of the developmental markers for young children involve movement," says Judy Young, Ph.D., executive director of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) in Reston, VA. "The first skills they depend on are physical -- sitting up, walking, picking things up -- and are essential for helping them feel safe and in control of their environment."

Fortunately, it's not hard to help kids master movement. "Parents simply need to give children the chance to explore their surroundings, not direct them to move," Dr. Young explains. Experts offer these fantastic ways to encourage kids of all ages to experiment with their abilities -- and have plenty of fun too!

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