City parents know one of the greatest things about living in London is getting outside with the kids. Whether it’s playing in the park or lugging baskets of groceries back from the farmer’s market, simple tasks can become meaningful experiences and traditions for families. Just like our children, we are happiest when we are moving around in vast spaces, moving our bodies and giving our busy minds a bit of peace to “breathe in and out.”

Help build your child’s self esteem

Parents are always looking for ways to help their children become happier, healthier, and well rounded people. This can often be at odds with how much energy we feel like we actually have left over to pay into that process at home. Fear not, there are a few simple guidelines that can boost your engagement with your child and help build their self-esteem.

Rufus Gordon Dean, co-founder of TARKA and former military professional, formed his popular signature early childhood program based on three insights from life in the military. He noticed that the men and women he trained with felt happiest and fulfilled when they were:

  • Exercising every day
  • Working together as a team
  • Having a goal that they needed to push themselves to pursue.

Camaraderie and common goals

These are all primal instincts formed very early in our social development. Children are social creatures, they like to be part of a tribe where they can form a camaraderie with other children. They like to work towards a common goal.

They’re still seeking our active supervision and guidance as parents but are more than keen to be set off on any ‘quest.’ And lucky for us parents, their bar is pretty low for what that constitutes, even if there aren’t other children around to play with. Have you ever set your child on the task of looking for your sunglasses? Their eyes just light up with purpose!

Imaginary playscapes and physical challenges

The experts in children’s exercise at TARKA London take this basic concept to the next level by leading children through a series of imaginary playscapes. Children are set on missions that challenge their bodies and minds.

Whilst pursuing physical challenges they are gently growing their soft skills: cheering on teammates, making new friends, and enjoying the most thunderous positive praise for achieving each target.

Give them a few more games where they have to run around with a set goal in mind and you have a happy kid and a good night’s sleep to look forward to.

Exercise as a practical tool

Exercise can be a practical tool as much as it is a solution to many of our modern ailments, both physical and mental. We all want our children to feel happy and have a sense of purpose. Instilling the notion of an active lifestyle at a young age can be integral to that.

The importance of the first seven years

The first seven years of a child’s life are so essential to their development. It’s during this time children develop their sense of leadership, communication and teamwork. When they build their social and emotional intelligence. By applying the founding principles of army life which thrives on community, problem solving and achieving targets to the hungry minds and restless bodies of small children, it is hoped these traits will continue into adulthood. TARKA believes it’s these traits that will lead to successful, happy, socially-conscious people.

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TARKA army training

At TARKA, army training has been restructured to yield all the best positive mental attributes. Ropes and nets are swapped for colourful building tools. Imaginary games choreographed by instructors to activate imaginations as well as stimulate minds and bodies.

The military officer has been replaced with a charismatic, nurturing instructor who leads the class through a series of challenges. TARKA challenges are based on teamwork and positive reinforcement. This could be picking up different coloured coins with tweezers so as not to wake a sleeping dragon, or building a bridge across lava. This workout for the imagination becomes the stuff that illustrates their dreams and children feel fulfilled, social and blissfully tired after class.

What THREE things can parents do to help their children?

Give your child challenges and quests!

Plan ahead and draw up a list of things to find outside. Go on a treasure hunt and see how hard they work. Race them to the nearest post box. Get them to find five smooth pebbles in the garden. Anything that gets their heart racing. A sense of urgency to make your child rise to the challenge for praise and a high five when they come back!

Set the standard and be a good role model to your children!

You are your child’s greatest role model, the more active you are the more they think of it as a normal part of everyday life. When you wake up, show them a few simple yoga poses to stretch their muscles or show them how to do a press up or a lunge. Get them to show you how many they can do! Children are natural mimics and will copy whatever you do. If you are outside exploring woods or kicking a ball they will want to join in.

Think like a kid, keep it simple and be social.

Children have amazing imaginations are very resourceful.  They can make games and adventures out of the simplest tools and everyday objects. If you invest ten minutes creating an imaginary world for your child they will play in it for hours. Get together with other parents and children to make it easier for you. It’s more fun for your children in a group, and the social interaction will tire them out almost as much as running around.

Get out of the comfort zone

Taking children out of their pushchairs and more importantly their comfort zone through play has finally become something that is actively being put into practice. The more time children spend in each other’s company, working together as a team under the tutelage of a friendly, proactive adult the more they learn to respect one another. This will set them in good stead for the future, to build lasting relationships in the workplace and in their home life.

We have known all along that children are happiest running around in the park, church halls and community centres or playing in the street together. A system that recreates this optimises their happiness and sense of purpose. It sets them up for good habits in the future. Your child will go on to enjoy a fulfilling work-life balance that prioritises physical activity, camaraderie and a proactive, confident approach to life’s challenges.

Click here to book your child on a TARKA half term course at Fulham, Knightsbridge or Notting Hill. There are classes available for children aged 18 months to ten years of age. 

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About The Author

Ellie Thompson
Editor & Blogger

Editor of My Baba and blogger. Currently on the IVF journey, documenting the process step-by step in addition to exploring how to prepare your body for pregnancy, what foods we should be eating, and any technique going that will lead to that positive pregnancy result!

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