If you’re tired of your kids sitting around and playing video games all day and wish there was a way to get them to be more active and involved in a less sedentary pursuit, you may want to introduce them to juggling. The fact is that today’s youth are inundated with countless sedentary hobbies. The days of playing tag outside or riding bikes for hours seem to be fading away. No wonder the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite that16 percent of children (over 9 million) 6-19 years old are overweight or obese – a number that has tripled since 1980.
Learning to juggle has many benefits for children. It enables them to engage their mind and body into a fun activity, it’s something “cool” that they can do to impress their friends, and when kids learn to juggle with their parents, it gives them a new way to connect and interact with each other.
By all accounts, juggling is a powerful hobby for today’s children. It provides the perfect disguise for teaching many useful life lessons in a way that is lively, engaging, and different. Here are a few of the essential life lessons both kids and adults can glean from juggling.
A desire to be active
You can’t juggle sitting down, so juggling naturally gets kids up on their feet doing something that is physical. While they’re not jumping around or breaking a sweat while juggling, they will be constantly bending over to pick up what they dropped and running to chase balls – especially in the beginning when they’re learning the basics. All that bending and walking is a low-impact type of exercise that will burn calories and help tone muscles. Additionally, since no one learns how to juggle in five minutes, this type of activity will continue for a while. And once your kids master the basics of juggling, they’ll want to challenge themselves with new things to juggle, which will start the learning (and continual bending over) process all over again.
Laser sharp focus
In today’s ADD culture, kids need to develop focus. Juggling is one way to do that. Just as the game of pool is all about geometry, juggling is an activity of algorithms. There are formulas for how you create patterns, timing for how long things are in the air, etc. It’s much more logical and analytical than most people realize – but you don’t have to tell your kids any of that. All they’ll know is that once they learn how to juggle, they won’t want to stop. They’ll feel the power that comes from completing a difficult task. In the process, they’ll be developing what’s called relaxed concentration, which is about being focused but not tense or jittery. Such mental conditioning is what builds hand-eye coordination and visual-spatial coordination. So just tell your kids that learning to juggle will make them better video game players and they’ll be hooked for life.
Learning how to juggle is a systematic, step-by-step process that is broken down and accomplished one goal at a time. You can’t just pick up three balls, throw them in the air, and expect to juggle. There are certain things you must do in a precise order before you can start juggling. Even veteran jugglers who are attempting a new trick break it down and learn step by step. For example, you may have seen a juggler balance a ladder on his chin while juggling. That person got to that point by first learning how to balance a peacock feather on his chin, and then a juggling pin, and then a broom, etc. Everything in juggling is a step-by-step process. Your kids will learn that in order to reach a certain level of expertise, they have to progress one goal at a time.
A commitment to teamwork
Learning to juggle goes better if you work with a partner or a group of people. When you’re in the midst of an activity, you’re often too close to it and can’t see how you’re really doing. You can’t see if you’re holding one hand too high or are not balancing your weight on your legs properly. However, outsiders (or your teammates) are able to see where you need to improve and can point it out. When kids get a teamwork experience where they are learning from each other they become much more receptive to other team activities, whether it be sports or a study group. They learn to trust other people’s perspectives and take their comments into consideration.
A healthy dose of self-confidence
No one ever thinks they’ll be able to learn how to juggle. They approach it with skepticism no matter what age they are. But when kids learn how to juggle, they see that they can accomplish something that is seemingly impossible. They achieve something that they thought was out of their reach, and that opens their mind to all the other things they can potentially accomplish. When they attempt something else that is difficult or new, they can think back to their juggling experience and realize that they can do anything they put their mind to. That’s a powerful self-confidence booster to kids of any age.
Share the Fun
If you’re ready to introduce juggling to your kids, you can find many books and training videos online that give a good overview of the basics. Check out a few that seem interesting and give them a try. Encourage your kids to keep practicing and soon they’ll be able to keep three balls in the air with ease. Very quickly they’ll learn that juggling is so much more than just a cute parlor trick. It’s a life enriching hobby that builds both inner and outer skills.
But don’t stop with just the kids. Parents and other adults can gain the same benefits from juggling. So start learning together. You’ll be building not only vital life skills, but also a lifelong bond with your kids that any parent would envy.