I think I’m fully conscious but my eyes are closed and my body is completely motionless, in that lovely place – the borderland of sleep. The temperture in the bed is perfect, cosy but not too hot, and I’ve found a spot on the pillow that is just right…… I’ve learned the value in creating and maintaining a comfortable in-bed temperature environment for a restful sleep (Libert, 2003; Okada et al., 2005). Then theres a tug at the sheet, I can’t get my hands up quick enough and then BANG! I never hear her coming until its too late, it’s carried out with planning and stealth. It usually happens just as I‘ve turned onto my back and I can just feel myself drifting away. I’ve been “dive bombed” by my 4 year old, Molly, at 6.00 am…….and so my day begins with a foot in my face. I have suggested that we pop a bell on a necklace and give it to Molly, but my wife has declined this offer.
So Mollys day starts with a dive bomb and continues in the same way, constantly moving. She is active, always on the go, willing to run and play and looking for the next victim! I have to bribe Molly to sit for a quick coffee (babychino) just to give me a chance to read the paper. But her instinct, like most 4 year olds is to move and cause mayhem. This made me think, could I wear my 4 year old out, and get a chance to sit by bringing her for a run with me? But kids can’t run long distances; it’s too dangerous for young children to run long distances? Or is it….. The scientific community provides little guidance on the subject. There is no evidence to suggest how much running is good or bad for kids. In fact children have been running marathons since the 1970s. Wesley Paul not only ran the 1977 New York city marathon he completed it in 3 hours and 31 seconds at 8 years of age!!!! He then went on to break the 3 hour barrier at age 9, a time most adult runners can only dream of. His motivation – “ I just wanted to run with my father”. More recently Keelan Glass, age 6, became the youngest girl on record to complete a half marathon. Her time 2:47:30 also earned her a single-age world record, according to the Association of Road Racing Statisticians. She was pushed in a stroller by her parents while they trained for triathlons. Eventually they let her ride her bike alongside them before finally allowing her to start running.
Children are hardwired to learn by imitation (Jones, 2009) People may assume that children are naturally energetic and require little encouragement. But in fact British research suggests that parent’s activity levels may have a direct influence on how active ,or not , their children are (Hesketh et al., 2014). So rather than criticise, or even take joy in your Childs ability to sit in front of a screen maybe reflect on where this behaviour is learnt and take responsibility for changing it by setting example. Run to earn your coffee and newspaper!
Hesketh KR, Goodfellow L, Ekelund U, McMinn AM, Godfrey KM, Inskip HM, Cooper C, Harvey NC & van Sluijs EM. (2014). Activity levels in mothers and their preschool children. Pediatrics 133, e973-980.
Jones SS. (2009). The development of imitation in infancy. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 364, 2325-2335.
Libert JP. (2003). [Thermal regulation during sleep]. Rev Neurol (Paris) 159, 6s30-34.
Okada S, Suzuki S, Fukui T, Fujiwara Y, Matsuura H, Yasuda M, Makikawa M & Iida T. (2005). Basic Study for Optimal Control of In-Bed Temperature during Sleep. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc 4, 4083-4086.