As a parent, one of the things you want most is to make sure that your children are happy and healthy. One of the best things you can give your children is give them the tools to be healthy and to take care of their own health for years to come. You can build the skills when they’re children that they can carry with them as they grow up. Here’s how to raise healthy children.
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- Find the right Doctor. Kids need to make a lot of trips to the doctor. Even the healthiest children will need to go for their vaccinations and health checks. Kids are also prone to accidents, and common childhood illnesses like chickenpox, ear infections, and allergies. With the right pediatrician, you can care for your child’s health and help them to learn to trust their doctor in later life.
- Encourage activity. It can be tough as a parent to get the balance right when it comes to teaching about exercise. Nobody wants to make their child worry about exercise for weight reasons, but most parents are also aware of the commonness of childhood obesity these days. The best way to get around this is to start building a healthy relationship with physical activity from a young age, so they enjoy being active as they grow up. Play together in the garden, go for walks or bike rides at weekends, or encourage them to try different sports. Keep it fun, not for fitness.
- Be creative with food. Children can be fussy eaters, and this can make it hard to encourage them to eat vegetables and other healthy foods. This can be stressful for the family, so try not to make healthy meals something that makes them feel pressured. Instead, try to find ways to make eating different foods fun. Encourage them to cook with you, or challenge them to choose different ingredients in the supermarket that look interesting. Learning to cook at a young age will be very helpful to them as adults, as will learning to be open to trying lots of new foods. As with exercise, keep the focus on fun. Lead by example, and eat well yourself, and choose new-to-you foods as well and figure them out together. You could do things like grow vegetables in the garden, so they can learn where their food comes from and may be open to trying something new. Cook healthy meals, even if you have to get creative to hide vegetables in their food to get them to eat something nutritious.
- Be careful with negative self-talk. Children can be like sponges, and they learn a lot from watching and listening to their parents. The way you talk about yourself can teach them to think about themselves in a similar way, so be very careful about the way you talk about yourself where they can hear you. Whether you talk negatively about your body, call yourself stupid, or other bad things, your children will pick up on this and learn to become self-critical too.
- Watch their screen time. Some television and video game time isn’t a problem, but try not to let them spend too much in front of a screen. Screen time can eat into the amount of time a child could spend being active, as well as bombarding them with adverts for unhealthy food, and messaging that you do not approve of. Keep an eye on how much time they spend with a screen. If it feels like too much, set limits, so screens can only be enjoyed for a certain number of hours or at certain times of the day. Don’t let your kids have a TV or computer in the rooms. Keep these in family areas so you can keep an eye on their usage.
- Lead by example. You can’t expect your child to eat healthily or be active if you aren’t doing that yourself. The best way to raise healthy children who grow up with healthy habits is to model those healthy habits yourself. Eat well, exercise, talk positively about yourself, minimize your screen time, and be proactive about caring for your health. Your children will grow up seeing all this as normal, which will make it much easier for them to keep up healthy habits as they grow into teenagers, and then grow up into healthy adults.
Raising healthy children doesn’t have to be daunting. Approach health as a family project and all of you will benefit.