We have all seen a baby squat with flawless form, but as children grow, they quickly loose this ability. This is because, as people build muscles, they begin to lose the flexibility and mobility they had infants and toddlers. The good news though is that it is easy to fix.
So what is proper form?
To begin, you must first understand how to properly conduct a squat. There are three main types of squats: the low-bar squat, the high-bar squat, and the front squat. In each one of these, the angle of the back slightly differs, but the technique and the position of the hips and knees remains the same.
First, the weight of the bar should be in line over the center of the squatter’s feet and the toes in line with the knees. Second, the squatter should bear the weight should be bore on the heels. As the squatter lowers, they can either conduct a “parallel” squat by lowering him or herself so that their thighs are parallel with the ground or conduct a full squat by exceeding the parallel. Those squats that are not at least parallel are not considered to be correct.
As I mentioned, poor form usually results in poor mobility and flexibility. If your child has poor mobility, simply begin conducting exercises that focus on increase mobility of the hip flexors and ankles, such as a Psoas stretch for the quads and ankle rotations.
However, if they have poor technique, I recommend removing all weight until they have their form down and conducting a series of wall and pole squats 2-3 times a week. This is where children having adult supervision is essential. After their form begins to improve with no weight, move into doing weighted squats with plates underneath their heels. You can begin with a larger weight, and then reduce the size until they are comfortable flat footed.
Weights underneath the heels serve much like Olympic lifting shoes and can help improve the ability to sit upright which is necessary for both high bar and front squats.