With our busy lifestyles, it can be hard to take time to check how our children are doing. However, since stress is common at any age, it is more important than ever to encourage good health. Here are a few ways you can ensure your child has the tools they need to stay healthy.
Eating well is important at all ages. If they are old enough, include them in preparation and teach them how to cook healthily. If they are young, let them choose what fresh fruit and vegetables are bought for the week. Children will want to eat frequently, so have healthful snacking foods on hand, ones they can eat with little or no prep. This is easier and cheaper to do than you might think, especially when you learn ways to save money.
Don’t comment on how much food your child eats. Telling them they need to eat something may make them resist harder, and if the food you have made is nutritious, eating a little extra should not be detrimental to their health. If you’re looking for ways to get them involved, allow your children to help out with dinner, whether it’s by using a simple toaster oven, chopping ingredients with a safety knife, or peeling vegetables with a child-friendly peeler — with your supervision. As long as they’re lending a hand, they’ll appreciate what’s on their plate. Another way to encourage healthy food choices is to give them some control. Let them decide what’s for dinner a few times each week, including the main course. You can also take them to the farmers market or to pick-your-own produce farms, where they will both have fun and learn about the way food is grown.
Taking Care of Their Body
A healthy body can go a long way to not only a healthy life but also a healthy and happy mind. Don’t think that just because they participate in physical education class that they have had enough activity. If your neighborhood permits, encourage your child to play outside and to engage in physical activities or a sport of their choice. If the weather is poor, or the area unsafe, there are even video games that encourage exercise. Make exercise a family affair by going outside with them. You can play age-appropriate games, such as kickball, badminton, or touch football together. Staying active and eating well are a great combination to foster a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy Sleep Patterns
Physical activity is essential, but so is sleep, which keeps you from getting sick and reduces stress levels. The National Sleep Foundation generally recommends that toddlers get between 11 and 14 hours of sleep. Preschool-aged children, those between three and five, can usually get by with an hour less every 24 hours. By age six, most children are in school and no longer sleep during the day. Their sleep needs drop to nine to 11 hours. Teens can ease into a slightly shorter sleep schedule of eight to 10 hours.
Further, screen time should be halted half an hour before bed to reduce your child’s exposure to blue light, which acts like daylight and tells the brain it’s time to be alert. Establish a bedtime routine as soon as possible. This should include changing into pajamas, brushing their teeth, and settling in with a story or lullaby.
Taking Care of Emotions
Teaching your child how to healthily process their emotions is an effective method to aid them in being healthy. One way to accomplish this is to model good behavior. Children look to their parents and learn how to behave directly from us. The best way to teach your child to control their emotional outbursts is to not yell, but to remain calm, and process your emotions as they happen. Sometimes, that means removing ourselves from a situation. Children also need parents to soothe them. Teach your children to think before they speak, and to evaluate each negative situation completely before letting their emotions take over. Encourage them to count to ten before they yell, scream, or cry. They might just find that they are better able to control their response when they pause for a moment.
When we connect to our children, they often feel involved and engaged. Teaching your children that you accept their emotions is another great way to get them to process how they feel, rather than trying to bottle them up or seeing them as inappropriate. That being said, it is important to teach them how to not react physically. Teach them, but don’t shame them that we do not hit or throw things when we get mad. Teaching them that they are loved no matter what will go a long way to keeping your home stress-free.
Looking After Your Home
Most children get into just about anything that is not locked. When children are young, you can use a safety latch to prevent little ones from getting into cabinets. Make sure that any corrosive chemical is locked away, including detergents, cleaners, cosmetics, perfume, nail polish and nail polish removers, medicines, additional supplements and any chemicals in your garage, such as insecticides or windshield wiper fluid. Don’t forget to talk to your kids about these forbidden substances, since curiosity is a powerful motivator. That last thing you want is for your child to go seeking these things out when your back is turned.
Your children will always need you. No matter how old, they will always look to you for guidance. Make sure you show them, at every stage, how to lead their best life.
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