iPad, computers, blocks, puzzles, toy cars and dolls: these are the common toys or objects that most of the parents give to their children to make them busy. Not in any way saying that these toys aren’t beneficial to the kids. They actually are. However, if most of the time the kids are restricted to these toys, it wouldn’t be just as fun. Our children love to explore and try new things and it’s the perfect time for us to let them be open to the outside and experience what’s beyond our doors and one example is an outdoor playground.
One of the most fun activity that our children can do in a playground are swings. In fact, it’s rare to find a child who doesn’t like to swing. Let’s admit it, even adults enjoy swings from time to time. But the question is, Is swinging important to our children? The answer is YES. A big YES. Most people may think it’s just because it’s fun. But rather than just being fun, there are also some benefits that swinging gives our children.
So what are the benefits of Swings?
- IT CAN STRENGTHEN VESTIBULAR SYSTEM
The vestibular system is the most important of the body’s senses. Not everyone is aware of this system but this actually lets us know if we’re moving, how fast our movement is and in which direction we are headed to. Our vestibular system allows us to move around our environment with confidence and this is because it transmits message to our brain as to how and where our body relates to other objects. Not all have developed vestibular system. Some children don’t move as confident as they are unsure of their exact location in space. One way to strengthen it is through a sensory swing.
- IT CAN INCREASE BALANCE & COORDINATION
Another benefit of sensory swing is an increase in balance and coordination. When children have undeveloped vestibular input, their body has no awareness on how to move within the environment. Let’s say they want to step, they don’t know how big or small the step should be or let’s say they want to jump, they can’t judge how far the jump would be. This is also connected to their fine motor skills which makes writing or tying of shoelaces can be difficult. As your child sits in their sensory swing, they gain confidence that their body is safe— even when their feet are off the ground. So, as these association become stronger, the more their balance improves.
- SWINGS HAVE CALMING EFFECT
Children are unique in their own ways. Some children can process all the input that goes through their senses but some cannot. Children with Sensory Processing Disorder have a hard time absorbing ang organizing sensory input. For them, all the environmental factors are like traffic jam which put stress on their nervous system which causes sensory meltdowns. Some ways to calm their body is through cuddling and swinging. This can help them regulate their bodies, making them feel more safe.
- IT CAN STRENGTHEN MUSCLES
Swings can also help in strengthening the muscles. As children sit on the swings, they can also have different swinging positions. Some children prefer sitting down while holding on the rope, some may prefer standing up or some prefers putting their tummies down. All these swinging positions which targets various muscle groups. Their head and neck muscles, tummy muscles, leg muscles. One of the most important one would be the strengthening of the core muscles as it would help them also to be focused when in classroom, doing table top activities.
- BONDING EXPERIENCE
Every swinging experience gives joy to our children and there’s no better feeling than seeing our children have fun. Their happiness makes us happy too. Swings in an indoor or outdoor playground, or even just an improvised swing at home, all have the same positive effect on our children. By either pushing them forward and backward, by supporting their hands to hold tight, by telling them to kick if they want to go higher or just by watching and staying them swing, all of these can create a good bonding experience.
Swings are beneficial to all. Let’s not restrict our children. Let them experience different types of swings and you can also use it as part of their daily routine just to keep their bodies regulated before doing an activity or before doing a task. Although we have to keep in mind that our child’s need vary from day to day. Swings may have different effect to every child and we should not force them to participate in sensory activities.