Our feet are one of the few parts of the body that are still “forming” after we’re born. Baby feet are made up of soft cartilage which only begins to harden as we grow. Even at the walking stage, young feet are still quite delicate. In fact, feet aren’t fully developed until well into the teenage years. This is why podiatrists place so much emphasis on correct fitting shoes and foot care.
As feet tend to be the one part of the body to get neglected as we travel through life, it’s important to teach foot health at a young age. What better way to do this than through fun and exploration?
Learn through play.
Kids love to play and explore. But how often do we let our kids play outside in bare feet. The words “Put your shoes on!” echo through our childhood, quite often it’s our Mums bellowing it from the kitchen.
The best thing you can do is let your kids play outside in bare feet. Let them explore their surroundings and feel soft from hard, rough from smooth. Walking over sandstone, sandy beaches or even freshly mowed grass can have amazing effects for kids. They learn to appreciate their feet and what they are capable of. Feeling different textures also helps to build proprioception in children, which is the awareness of the movement and position of the body.
Learn through touch.
Another great way to teach foot appreciation is to sit down with your child and have them study their feet. Babies are quite often fascinated with their feet from a young age, freely putting them in their mouths. Whilst we’re not advocating that (yuck!), showing young children how toes bend and move can teach understanding on how their feet work. This also helps them to feel their feet moving in their shoes. They should then be able to tell you if their toes can wiggle in their shoes so you can gauge correct size.
Learn through care.
Keeping feet clean and dry is really important. A lot of foot health issues start from poor foot care. Encourage your children to wash their feet including inside their cute little toes and then drying them with a towel. Try counting each toe as they dry them to make sure none get missed out. Kids love to count so have them do the counting for you. Teaching kids how to love and care for their feet from a young age will help them in adult life. Having an appreciation for the work they do can help in shoe selection, ensuring the right shoe is worn for optimum comfort. After all, our feet need to last the whole journey.
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