Healthy Posture for Babies and Children: Tools for Helping Children to Sit, Stand, and Walk Naturally

Healthy Posture for Babies and Children: Tools for Helping Children to Sit, Stand, and Walk Naturally

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620556405
Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Publication date: 07/25/2017
Edition description: 2nd Edition, Revised Edition
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Kathleen Porter is the director of the Center for Natural Alignment in Portland, Oregon. She offers programs for people with posture-related pain and for children and teachers in classrooms. Featured on the popular health website, she has taught principles of natural alignment at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, and the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. The author of Natural Posture for Pain-Free Living, she lives in Portland, Oregon.

Read an Excerpt


Finding and Teaching Natural Alignment

MANY OF US KNOW that our children’s posture is a problem. We struggle to know what to do about it, having already learned the futility of simply telling a child to “sit up straight.” Truth be told, we often are at a loss to know how to inhabit our own bodies in ways that are comfortable and relaxed, yet strong and energetic. Can we ever expect children to know what to do, if we ourselves do not?

Teachers are frustrated, too. Many of the children in their classrooms are ill-prepared to participate in learning—their bodies are collapsed, and they are restless and unable to sit still and focus, or they are lethargic and “zoned out.” In the meantime, there are lessons to prepare, tests and homework to correct, administrative paperwork to complete, not to mention the aches and pains that come from being on one’s feet in a classroom all day.

It makes sense that posture is a topic that is easily ignored. The general attitude tends to be that it is something we should pay attention to, but it’s just “too hard” to maintain. We remember our mother’s nagging us to “stand up straight,” but whenever we tried, we felt rigid and uncomfortable, and our ability to maintain “proper” posture lasted hardly any time at all. And so it continued, we either gave in to slouching or we pulled ourselves up and held ourselves together with tension. Sound familiar?

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Our cultural ideal of “good” posture turns out to be all wrong. Truly good posture—natural posture— is comfortable and relaxed, while also solidly strong and upright. This book is the missing manual that shows how this is possible.

As it is with many other things, natural posture is simple but not entirely easy. It does take a bit of re-learning as well as some practice. Doing this with others—parent and child, teacher and students—not only makes it more interesting and fun, but reinforces our efforts along the way.

I started out to teach children, but they ended up teaching me. While the programs I’ve conducted in elementary schools were at first limited to helping children know how to sit upright with ease, whether at their desks or on the floor, from them I learned the following:

  • Children have a great appetite for knowing how to inhabit their bodies with ease. They are enthusiastically attentive and curious about how their bodies work.
  • In a home and school environment that emphasizes acquisition of information and development of cognitive skills, children are grateful to be invited to feel what is going on inside their skin.
  • Children respond well to being part of a process of mutual learning. They are fully aware when we are not walking our talk or practicing what we preach, and they appreciate our admitting that we, too, still have much to learn. They are inspired by our sincere commitment to improving ourselves and will follow our lead.
I will end with a brief story of what first inspired me to write this book. Months after the conclusion of a pilot project at a public charter school in Hilo, Hawaii, in 1999, I had a conversation with the fourth-grade teacher. After the program concluded, she found it helpful to occasionally remind the children that she saw some “sad dogs” in the room. This reminded them that sitting up with ease begins with establishing the pelvis as the foundation. One day, when she said she saw some saddogs in the room, one boy blurted out, “That’s over!” My heart sank momentarily as the teacher recounted this to me, before she added that another child had earnestly called out, “No it’s not! It’s for your whole life!”

And so it is that working with children is always about planting seeds. Inspiring interest is the first step, because curiosity is the fertile soil in which seeds can begin to sprout. Our own enthusiasm and persistence for putting alignment principles into practice is the fertilizer that we add along with encouragement and supportive reminders. It may take months or even years for the seeds to bear fruit in ourselves and our children. You will forget and then remember many times over. In the days that lie ahead, the best we can do is stay on course. The benefits of this will become clear to our children, and especially to ourselves, by how we feel. There is no guarantee that a self-directed process will unfold in someone else. Yet nothing will motivate our children more, now and in the future, than watching us reap the benefits that come from inhabiting bodies that are aligned, both literally and figuratively, with the truth of who we are.

From chapter 2, “Physics and the Body”

Gravity: Friend or Foe?

Knowledge is power, as the saying goes, and the power that comes from knowing how to realign yourself with the forces of gravity bestows benefits that last a lifetime.

It can be helpful to think of the pelvis, the rib cage, and the skull as three “wheels of alignment” that can turn forward or backward. The direction in which they turn, in relationship to each other, determines how you inhabit your body. You can learn a lot by standing sideways in front of a full-length mirror and turning these “wheels” in different directions, taking on postures of alignment (happy dog), collapse (sad dog), and overcorrection (tense dog). Notice which way your own wheels tend to be turned most of the time.

So, is gravity your friend or foe? It depends which way your wheels are turning.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Peggy O’Mara, former publisher of Mothering magazine


Introduction. Finding and Teaching Natural Alignment

How to Use This Book

Part 1

Understanding the Principles of Natural Alignment

Recognizing an Overlooked Epidemic

1 Facing an Ever-Growing Epidemic

2 Physics and the Body

3 The Body in Action

4 Humans as Creatures of the Earth

5 The Physical Disempowerment of Babies

6 Healthy Babies, Healthy Feet

7 Our Lifetime Home

8 Building Healthy Habits at Home

9 Outdoor Play, Physical Education, and Sports

10 Natural Alignment in the Classroom

11 A Few Thoughts Going Forward

Part 2
Healthy Posture
Guidelines for Children and Their Adults

  • Our Bodies Are Connected to the Earth
  • Your Skeleton Is Your Framework
  • A System of Pulleys and Levers
  • Are You a Happy Dog or a Sad Dog?
  • Happy Dogs and Healthy Children Wag Their Tails
  • The Trunk of the Tree—and So Much More
  • Find Your Sit Bones
  • How to Park Your Pelvis
  • Put Your Chest Down
  • Being a Mindful Dog
  • Sitting Mindfully
  • Being Mindful and Aligned Together
  • Options for Sitting
  • The Pelvis Sets the Stage for the Spine
  • Unhappy Puppets: Tense Dogs and Sad Dogs
  • How to Be a Happy Dog Puppet
  • Getting to Know Your Shoulders
  • The Head on Top
  • Connect with Your Core
  • Lean Back with a Straight Spine
  • Fixing Your Feet
  • Standing Is Like Sitting, with Legs
  • What Gives Your Body Its Shape
  • Ground Reaction Force
  • Walking with the Earth
Part 3
Building New Habits of Movement

A Daily Routine of Exercises for Everyone
  • Basic Steps to Easy Sitting
  • Turn On Your Core—Anywhere, Anytime
  • Butt the Wall (Bend Like a Baby)
  • Giving Shape to Healthier Feet
  • Sitting Down in a Chair
  • Getting Up from a Chair
  • With a Little Help from a Friend
  • Lengthen Your Spine, Release Your Back
  • Retrain Your Shoulders
  • Ice Skating
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Open Your Shoulders
  • Plank: More Core and More Shoulders
  • Lying-Down Shoulder Opener
  • Be a Baby Again, On-the-Spot Guide for Parents and Teachers



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