The division of responsibility in activity

The division of responsibility in activity

Children are born loving their bodies, curious about them, and inclined to be active. Good parenting preserves and deepens these qualities. A child’s job is to grow into his or her happiest, healthiest self.  The job of parents, teachers, and caregivers is to nurture that growth.   When caring adults do their job, children do the job they were born to do.


Supporting activity is good parenting  

Parents provide structuresafety and opportunities

Parents’ jobs with activity include:

  • Developing judgment about normal commotion
  • Providing safe places for activity the child enjoys
  • Finding fun and rewarding family activities
  • Providing opportunities to experiment with group activities such as sports
  • Setting limits on TV but not on reading, writing, artwork, other sedentary activities
  • Removing TV and computer from the child’s room
  • Making children responsible for dealing with their own boredom

Fundamental to parents’ jobs is trusting children to do their job: choosing how much and whether to move and the manner of moving.

When you do your jobs, children can be trusted to manage their own activity: 

  • Children will be active
  • Each child is more or less active depending on constitutional endowment
  • Each child is more or less skilled, graceful, energetic or aggressive depending on constitutional endowment
  • Children’s physical capabilities will grow and develop
  • They will experiment with activities that are in concert with their growth and development
  • They will find activities that are right for them

You can apply the division of responsibility in activity from infancy through toddlerhood through adolescence.  Crossing the lines of the division of responsibility is likely to create problems with movement and distort growth. Trying to control whether, how much, or the way your child moves or how his body turns out crosses the lines. So does catering to your child’s expectation that he will be endlessly entertained.

Division of responsibility in activity for infants

  • The parent provides the infant with a variety of positions, clothing, sights and sounds. Then the parent remains present and lets the infant experiment with moving.
  • The parent is responsible for safe opportunities.
  • The child is responsible for moving.

Division of responsibility in activity for toddlers through adolescents

  • The parent is responsible for structuresafety and opportunities.
  • The child is responsible for how, how much and whether he or she moves.


Parent in the best way: Physical activity

Your Child's Weight - Helping Without Harming

From Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming

Chapter 8; page 262

“Your child will naturally be as active as is right for him, and he will naturally seek out what he enjoys—he will find the forms and levels of activity that are right for him. Children are more or less active, more or less strong and coordinated, more or less aggressive, more or less graceful—the list goes on. There are some activities your child is good at and some that are right for him. He will find those activities—unless he loses his good feelings about moving.” 

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