2021年6月23日 星期三

Raising Kids to Love Exercise

Body positive ways to encourage the joy of movement.

Raising Kids to Love Exercise

Nan Lee

As someone who came of age during the late 1990s, when the cultural messages around the female body were demented, and Britney Spears's bronzed abdomen was considered an attainable and appropriate goal, playing sports was one of the few things that allowed me to feel good about myself. Sports made me feel capable and strong, rather than ornamental. I might not have looked the way I wanted to in those stupidly low-slung jeans, but I could run my heart out on the field hockey pitch and lose myself in the camaraderie of my teammates on the long bus rides back from away games.

My field hockey team was not good! But our losing record did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the activity. In fact, the low stakes might have increased my enjoyment — in the past 20 to 30 years, youth sports have become more competitive and more time consuming. Experts are concerned that children are risking injury from overtraining and specializing in a single sport at ever younger ages, according to reporting by Roni Caryn Rabin in The Times. Research has shown that there are additional risks to specializing and intense training, which include psychological stress and quitting sports entirely.

I have two daughters, and despite my best attempts to run a body positive home, I can already tell that my older daughter, who is in third grade, is getting messages from the outside world about how she is supposed to look. My hope is that exercise can provide a counter message about what her body can do. There is ample evidence that playing sports is correlated with a host of psychological benefits for children of all genders, including higher self-worth and body image for girls.

But I'm not naïve; I know that my girls may also be told that exercise is important because it's an avenue for weight loss, not because it's an opportunity for joy, strength or friendship. So how do I encourage my children to be active, without making it an area of stress, or a chore? I asked two experts on kids and health for their tips.

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Don't force it. If you push your kid into a sport they really don't want to do, it's not going to stick. People (children included) feel motivated to do something when they have control, when they can feel like they're a part of something, and when they can feel successful, said Matthew Myrvik, a clinical sports psychologist and an associate professor at The Medical College of Wisconsin. "Where you start is you give them control," he said — which is to say, give them several different kinds of activities to choose from.

For a child who isn't excited about team sports like soccer or basketball, you can offer skateboarding or yoga, which are physical activities that they can master on their own. "If you have a kid who is more cerebral or into science, taking a nature walk and identifying different plants or birds, or taking a bike ride through a beautiful setting," can keep activity joyful, said Christy Harrison, a registered dietitian and host of the podcast "Food Psych."

If you try to force particular activities on your kids, it may backfire, Ms. Harrison said. "A lot of adults who are healing from disordered relationships with their bodies were pushed into adult type activities that made them hate exercise; it made them feel like they were being punished," she said.

Praise effort, not outcome. As children reach adolescence, they tend to drop out of sports entirely if they are not highly competitive, according to a 2019 policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Teach your kids that especially in team sports, they cannot control the outcome of the game, Dr. Myrvik said. What they can control is how hard they try. After a game, whether your kid wins or loses, praise the process, saying something like: "I love how many shots you took today," or "It's great to see you out there having fun with your friends."

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Make it a family activity. Kids are smart, and they will notice the mirthless way that some adults view exercise — going out for a jog that feels like checking off a box or doing some mandatory drudgery, Ms. Harrison said.

So try to find activities you can do as a family together that are joyful, and that get your bodies moving. Dr. Myrvik said his children look forward to their family dance parties (and also use them as a tactic to delay bedtime). During the pandemic, we started taking family hikes and doing Cosmic Kids yoga together, both of which we are continuing even as group sports open up again.

As soon as I heard about a local rec soccer league that was enrolling for the spring, I encouraged my older daughter to join. I said we could practice together, since I played soccer from kindergarten through high school. She scoffed, and said she wasn't interested. Then, a week after the rec league began, her best friend was telling her about how much fun she was having at soccer, and my daughter begged me to get her in the league. She ended up loving the experience, and wants to do it again in the fall.

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Tiny Victories

Parenting can be a grind. Let's celebrate the tiny victories.

My son was losing energy on a hike, and I told him I'd give him invisible M&Ms to give him energy. Every few steps, I tossed one to him and said, "Ping!" It got him giggling and kept him moving until we got over the hill! — Cate Blair, Seattle

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2021年6月22日 星期二

Will the tyranny of the 1970s ever end?

How politics blackened a decade's reputation.
Allan Tannenbaum/Getty Images
Author Headshot

By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

Leisure suits went out of fashion more than 40 years ago. High inflation stopped being a problem only a few years later. Yet while you rarely see warnings about the imminent return of disco style, hardly a year goes by without dire predictions that '70s-type stagflation is coming back.

Today's column is about how the case for fearing runaway inflation has collapsed over the past few weeks. But I didn't have space to talk about why such fears have received widespread publicity, even though they were always on very shaky ground.

Of course, one reason people are talking about inflation is that some prices have shot up in the past few months. But I don't have the sense that inflation worriers are really arguing that soaring prices of used cars and lumber are harbingers of a return to double-digit inflation. Instead, they're treating the background of price hikes as a kind of Greek chorus to reinforce their claim that we're repeating the mistakes of the 1970s.

The question is why invoking the specter of the 1970s evokes such terror.

Not that the '70s were a good time economically. The great post World War II boom ended circa 1973, introducing a long period of sluggish gains and often declines in median income. But the '70s don't stand out as worse in that respect than several other periods. Real income growth under Jimmy Carter was better than it was under George Bush the elder; the Gerald Ford and Carter era as a whole was better than the reign of George Bush the younger. And none of the economic travails of the period matched the suffering of the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath.

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True, there was that inflation, although incomes by and large kept up. Still, by the numbers, it's hard to see why we still scare children by telling them that if they're bad, they'll end up back in the 1970s. What's all that about?

Part of the answer is that the economic troubles of the '70s came along with other bad news. Crime was still on the rise; inner cities were decaying; we lost the war in Vietnam. These were pretty much entirely separate stories both from one another and from the economic malaise, but they tend to merge in historical memory.

But here's the thing about historical memory: It tends to be selective, and what gets remembered often reflects elite agendas. To take an infinitely more important subject than mere economics, how many white Americans were ever taught about the 1921 Tulsa massacre? I know I wasn't.

And so it is with economic history. You very rarely hear about the bleak economic mood of the early 1990s, a time of falling incomes, deindustrialization and widespread fear that the United States was losing out to foreign competitors. Somehow that episode got dropped from the curriculum even though Bill Clinton got elected by campaigning against the Bush economy.

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But harping on the troubles of the 1970s serves a political purpose. To this day, I keep reading declarations that Carter-era stagflation is an object lesson in the terrible things that happen if taxes and spending are too high. There's actually no evidence that big government had anything to do with the economic problems of the time; soaring oil prices caused by wars and revolutions in the Middle East were probably the biggest factor, plus irresponsible monetary policy (undertaken in part to help Richard Nixon win re-election).

Still, the legend of '70s stagflation as the market's way of punishing America for being too liberal lives on; for influential forces in our political discourse, it remains a story too good to check.

The relevance to our current discourse is obvious. Democrats with a progressive agenda have taken control of the White House and, barely, Congress. Of course, there are widespread declarations that we're about to relive (cue scary music) the … 1970s.

Well, I'm not scared. Unless there's a real possibility of a return to disco-era fashion, which would be terrifying.

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Quick Hits

Hardly anyone talks about the lessons of the '80s, which aren't what you think.

German selective memory is even worse: Everyone knows about the hyperinflation of 1923, but nobody knows about the disastrous deflationary policies that actually destroyed democracy.

The '70s were economically troubled but culturally innovative.

The '70s economy was better than portrayed, but the food was as bad as you remember.

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Facing the Movies

"The 1970s." "Neigghhhh!"YouTube

Somehow I think of this when I hear people talk about the 1970s.

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