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4 Tips for Encouraging Healthy Child Development

Feb 15, 2019 by

It’s never too early to get your kids started on healthy habits they can take continue for a lifetime. In the United States, many children aren’t developing the physical and mental wellness strategies to help them live healthy, happy lives. Parents can help set kids up for a bright future by understanding why these habits are important and making an effort to incorporate them into their everyday routines.

Children’s Health – Some Statistics

First, the good news: children between the ages of five and eleven are generally in good health. About 84% of children this age group are described as being in “very good” or “excellent” health. With that said, 18.4% of six-to-eleven-year-olds were obese in 2015-2016—a problem that appears to be worsening. The best way for parents to keep their children in good health is to encourage healthy habits that prevent obesity and chronic conditions stemming from excess weight.

How Can You Help Form Healthy Habits for Your Children?

There are lots of ways you can help your child stay healthy and form positive lifestyle habits from the very beginning. As a parent, you are the one setting the standard for meals at home. Whenever possible, cook with whole foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, and keep processed food out of the house. This will not only help your family stay healthy, it will also send a powerful message about healthy food habits that children will recognize as normal.

Parents need to be role models. If you want your children to choose healthy snacks and spend time running outside, you need to make fitness a priority and reach for a banana over a package of Oreos. Health needs to be a family effort. Words are powerful, so be careful about how you talk about food and health. Keep the dialogue positive. Don’t complain about your body or having to eat a salad in front of your children. This also sends a message—one you probably don’t want your child picking up.

Yoga & Other Healthy Activities for Children

Physical activity and limiting screen time are good habits for children to pick up. But mindfulness training can also be extremely helpful for teaching children how to manage stress and promote good mental health.

One way to combine these healthy habits is with regular yoga practice or meditation. Yoga is a great way for families to spend time together while building good habits. Kids can burn off excess energy in a productive way, quiet their minds with yoga, build confidence, and learn breathing techniques that can be helpful when they find their emotions overwhelming. Yoga is highly adaptable for different ages and levels, so almost any family can find a practice that works for them.

The Importance of Staying Healthy at School

School is great for learning, development, and building relationships. However, kids can easily become ill from their classmates and miss days of school if they don’t practice healthy habits. Just one child can make a large number of their classmates sick. While it’s not always possible to prevent colds and viruses, teaching your children health tips for school can make a big difference.

Kids should be reminded to wash their hands before eating, after using the restroom, and after blowing their nose, sneezing, or coughing. Teach your child to cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze, either into a tissue or into the crook of their elbow to help prevent viruses from spreading. These simple steps can make a big difference and help to keep children healthy in the classroom. And finally, if your child is sick, have them stay home. It’s not fair to the other kids!

Ensure Kids Are Aware of the Dangers of  Cyberbullying

Dangers to kids aren’t always physical. Cyberbullying (bullying that takes place over digital mediums) is a growing problem that can have a lasting impact on a child’s mental health and well-being. Tragically, children and adolescents who are cyberbullied are at an increased risk of suicide. Teaching your children about what is and isn’t acceptable for online communication can make a difference. Encourage your child to approach you or another trusted adult if they are experiencing harassment online, and monitor your child’s online communications until you feel they are responsible enough to manage them on their own.

Opportunities in Child Development

If you’re interested in learning more about child development and healthy habits from a young age, that interest doesn’t have to stop with your family. This is a growing field that helps communities and improves the lives of children. Social workers and other service professionals are doing their part to educate families and help them live healthy, happy lives.

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