I agree, weights are not needed or preferred at such a young age. My kids (2.5 and almost 5) do like to mimic my husband and I. They use a wooden bar or frisbee to hold for various exercises, although they have shown they can pick up the 2lb dumbbells we happen to have. Both of my kids have done gymnastics since they were 15 months because it was the only class we could do at that age. DD still loves it and has some talent there. Both of my kids are strong and once the weather cooperates I'll be teaching them to climb the trees in our yard.
At 7, though, she may feel out of place if she's never done gymnastics before. I like bloodorchild's suggestion of telling her she needs to learn proper form and build strength through body weight exercises before using weights. If she can only do 1 pushup and not do an unassisted chin-up then there's plenty of work to be done there first.
That's a sign of good parenting on your part making sure she has plenty of calories and nutrients so her body can grow. You're helping a little person grow big and strong. Go you.
Originally Posted by Leida
Regarding stunted growth:
Stunted growth is due to low calorie consumption and malnutrition. And you've already described your little one as developing well in comparison to other children, you seem to be feeding her enough and the right kinds of foods. Keep at it.
Bodyweight exercises, weighted exercises...it's all the same. The body is being stressed. Gravity is a stressor. Bone strength/density is determined by the stresses placed on the body. The same goes for all other connective tissues: tendons (connect muscle to bone), ligaments (connect bones), and muscles.
Coordination is probably the most important thing growing up. If she wants to lift weights, make sure she lifts properly (which you've been doing), continue to incorporate the bodyweight exercises, and light, comfortable stretching after activity as part of the time when you cool down.
You're doing fine. You aren't going to stunt her growth or damage her growth plates. From running alone, studies have shown forces up to 7 times the body's weight placed on the feet.
I'd be more concerned with the prevalence of injuries caused within gymnastics because kids are being pushed beyond the limits of their coordination and strength.
I would like to clear up some of the rampant misconceptions about gymnastics. The vast majority of children who participate in gymnastics classes do so at the recreational level (i.e. strictly for the fun of it). A tiny percentage have what it takes to train at a competitive level and an even tinier percentage are on track for the elite level which can lead to college scholarships, world championships, and the Olympics.
Recreational gymnasts spend maybe one to two hours in the gym per week, whereas competitive gymnasts usually put in anywhere from 12 to 30, even 40 at the elite level. And yes, even children as young as 6 years old might put in 12 hours per week. There is really no comparing recreational and competitive gymnastics; they are two very different programs.
Recreational gymnastics is for EVERYONE and those who benefit the most are the overweight, weak, uncoordinated, cautious, and special needs children (and adults) of the world. In a children's recreational class they will play games, learn to move their bodies in different ways, climb, balance, roll, and turn. These are things that children do naturally out on the playground. In the gym they have mats and trained coaches to guide them. They will develop functional fitness, gain flexibility, learn to fall safely, and develop spacial awareness. I can't think of a more well-rounded exercise program for children. There is also something magical that happens to one's confidence when one finally masters a cartwheel or balances for a long time in a handstand. These are the kinds of skills that are learned in a recreational class, NOT what you see on the TV during the Olympics.
Originally Posted by BananaLeaf
Thank you for the comments everyone, it sounds very reasonable. Basically, I think I will try to keep her at body weight, but if she wants to handle dumbells, make sure we do endurance with light weights.
I will think about gymnastics - which is very recreational in our rec centre. I am not very much into putting the kid up to the sports where she can't do well because of how she is built.But every time she sees gymnastics rings she goes wild, so maybe that's something for me to consider.
WOAH WOAH WOAH
before you squash your child's interest in weightlifting and relegate her to metcons in the name of safety read these:
Kids and weightlifting http://sdrv.ms/13THq08
Isweightlifting safe? http://sdrv.ms/15Kh7I2
Hamil (1994) Sports Injury Rates Per 100 Hours Of
SPORT INJURIES PER 100 HR.
Soccer (school age) 6.20
UK Rugby 1.92
USA Basketball 0.03
UK Cross Country 0.37
US Football 0.10
USA Gymnastics 0.044
USA Powerlifting 0.0027
USA Volleyball 0.0013
USA Tennis 0.001
Weight Training 0.0035 (85,733 hrs)
Weightlifting 0.0017 (168,551 hrs)
for what it's worth I think gymnastics are tremendous for children in creating motor patterns and developing coordination that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
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I spoke to one of the Exercise Physiologists I studied under today and he essentially backed up what I said. At younger ages coordination and mobility are going to be the most important things to maintain. Bodyweight and weighted exercises are fine.
Oh, I am not going to squash her interest, but I will keep it light until she have a better body awareness. Right now she would pick her class mates off the ground and lifts them up in a hug... gotta be some significant strength involved there.
All good points, thank you. I will browse the articles for suggestions.