We become healthy humans, not just through the foods we eat and the activity we engage in, but also though the messages we receive and the raising of our positive self-esteem. You can assist your children by:
We all know that children are like little sponges – they copy what we say and do – regardless of whether we are doing something ‘good’ eg eating an apple, or being polite; or something ‘not so good’ like yelling, or smoking in the car. Young children don’t screen or filter this information, they just copy it – ‘If it’s good enough for Mum or Dad, it’s good enough for me!’ So, if you want healthy children, lead by example with the food you eat, the exercise you do, and the attitudes you display.
Children weren’t born to be solitary creatures – humans are born into families and communities, and need other human beings to nurture them – through touch, talk, play and encouragement. Children who have positive engagement with their parents and carers learn vital social skills which help them form relationships with others. You can nurture your child’s social-emotional development through eye contact, tender words, praise & acknowledgement for their actions, fun and laughter, and spending quality time really listening to your child (minus your mobile phone!).
Ensure that the TV is not your child’s companion! TV is only one form of information and entertainment for your child. Children need a variety of activities – both quiet and more active, inside and outside, with others and alone – a mixture of types. When the TV is on as background noise, children don’t fully engage in the new activity – they might be playing with blocks, but are distracted by the action or volume of the TV. Allowing children the opportunity to fully engage in an activity will assist in increasing their attention span. Too much time watching TV or spent in front of a screen means passivity, rather than activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day – kicking a ball around the yard, going for a walk to the park with you, riding their bicycle or playing hide’n’seek with their siblings.
Good food is essential to well-being. There is so much information available from Health Departments and Nutritionists regarding healthy diets and food requirements. It’s up to us as parents to have a variety of healthy foods in the home. We know children can be fussy at various times, so it’s good to have a selection to offer. Children don’t do the shopping – we do. So minimise the purchase of sugary and low nutritional foods. If you eat poorly, your children will copy you – remember, as I said above, that they are little sponges!
Show your children that active play is fun! Laughing and having fun whilst doing an activity means children are more likely to want to participate. They also want to join in, when you do! A game of kicking a ball lasts much longer when Mum or Dad joins in! Have fun with your children by playing ball games, dancing, swimming, jogging in the park, playing on the equipment, flying a kite, blowing & chasing bubbles, or walking to the shops to buy the bread for lunch.
Raising children with healthy minds and bodies is not so difficult – in fact there’s just 5 steps.
Image by spicuzza via Flickr