Division of Responsibility – Exercise for Children

We’ve talked previously about the Division of Responsibility in feeding children.  But what about exercise?  Luckily, Ellyn Satter tackles that for us too.

Just as with the Division of Responsibility for feeding, there are certain responsibilities for parents and for children.  The goal of this division is to preserve the natural inclination children have for loving, taking care of, listening to and moving their bodies.  If not careful, parents can overstep their boundaries and cause a child to distrust their body and their intuitive signals.

The parent’s responsibilities include:

  • Develop realistic judgment about normal commotion
  • Provide safe places for activitities the child enjoys
  • Find fun and rewarding family activities
  • Provide opportunities to experiment with group activities such as sports
  • Set limits on TV but not on reading, writing, artwork, other sedentary activities
  • Remove TV and computer from the child’s room
  • Make children responsible for dealing with their own boredom

Essentially, the parent is responsible for providing structure, safety and opportunities.

The child’s responsibilities include:

  • Children will be active
  • Each child is more or less active depending on constitutional endowment
  • Each child is more or less skilled, graceful, energetic or aggressive depending on constitutional endowment
  • Children’s physical capabilities will grow and develop
  • They will experiment with activities that are in concert with their growth and development
  • They will find activities that are right for them

You can see that it’s important for children to be encouraged but to be allowed to honor their own interests and skills.  Essentially, a child is responsible for how much and what they do.

When this division of responsibility is followed, children can grow in confidence and ability without feeling uncomfortable, shameful or guilty.  No reason to worry about what has already transpired, but I encourage you to consider a structure that may be more helpful, effective and conducive to change.  Identify from this discussion what you feel would be appropriate to incorporate in your home, as you know your children best.

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD