Latest stats are that around 280,000 accident claims are recorded in NZ each year for falls. Children and young people make up many of these accidents. For the elderly, the consequences may be fatal. Refer to my ealier blog about this.
What is a real concern is the youngsters coming through to their adolescent growth spurts with little in the way of the skills, agility or the strength to safely negotiate a fall. And let's face it; we will all fall over at various stages of our lives, so let's prepare for the inevitable, starting with our kids while they are still small. Safely teach basic movement skills, like leaping and rolling. If a child does not learn basic movement skills, like the forward roll and does not have the strength to withstand impact, serious injury from a fall is inevitable during adulthood.
Teaching your son, daughter or grandchildren to fall safely is great fun. Refer to my earlier blog here, for a start. Here is another game you can introduce your small children to: Balancing on the top of a secure platform, like a large sofa, tossing a ball to the ceiling and leaping up to catch the ball and landing with great skill and on the carpeted floor.
Just a point of clarification: Don't have your child leaping from a great height first shot! Start from the ground, then progressively increase the height, by adding a step and then off a chair and so on. Safety is paramount and this means being progressive, placing the emphasis on clean landings and ensuring that there are no obstacles nearby that could injure, like a coffee table or toys. Ensure whatever the child clmbs onto is secure and will not shift when jumping. Of course, there is no need to go to excessive heights. Work on developing the skills for safe leaping and landing.
I had a call yesterday from somebody who I respect enormously. While she agreed with what I had written, she was concerned that children could be injured if they follow my advice.
"Gary, I think you are underestimating just how fragile many children are nowadays. Some of them can break an arm just by falling over backwards because they lack the strength to protect their tubby bodies and their bones are not strong through lack of use".
Fair point, so I will emphasise that, as with the learning of any physical skill; start with simple and easy tasks and gradually add to their complexity and challenge as the child demonstrates mastery.
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