By Elizabeth Shields, Guest Contributor
Parents always want the best for their children from giving them a warm home, a caring family, sending them to a good school, and making sure they are healthy. It is also our responsibility to instill habits so that they are empowered and equipped with the knowledge and skills to make choices that positively impact their well-being throughout their lives.
In this article, we will explore essential health tips that every parent should teach their child, ranging from nutrition and hygiene practices to physical activity and emotional well-being. Let’s start!
1. Maintain a balanced diet
One of the fundamental aspects of a healthy lifestyle is a balanced diet. Parents should emphasize the importance of consuming nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. If you find it hard to make your child eat veggies, try to sneak them into their meals like grating carrots and adding it to the spaghetti sauce. You can also encourage healthy eating by teaching simple cooking techniques and involving them in meal planning and preparation.
While it is okay to enjoy occasional treats, they should be consumed in moderation. Minimizing their sugar intake lessens their risks of developing diabetes. Although it might be tempting to enforce the “clean plate rule”, imposing it can have negative effects on their relationship with food and their ability to regulate their own hunger and fullness cues.
2. Engage in physical activity
Regular physical activity is important for children’s development and growth. Encourage children to engage in age-appropriate exercises, sports, and outdoor activities. Parents can explore a lot of options like swimming, taekwondo, yoga, or community-organized sports like soccer, basketball, and football which will not only benefit their strength but also their cooperation, communication, sportsmanship, and interpersonal skills. If possible, join activities for families as it will be a good time to bond and encourage them to participate in physical activities that they enjoy.
Explain the benefits of exercise, such as improved cardiovascular health, stronger bones, and better mental well-being. Limit their screen time to avoid developing a sedentary lifestyle and disrupted sleeping patterns.
3. Learn good hygiene practices
Maintaining good hygiene is essential for preventing illnesses and promoting overall health. Parents should educate children about bathing or showering and regular hand washing, especially before meals and after using the bathroom. Make it fun by teaching them to wash their hands to the tune of the “happy birthday” song. Emphasize the significance of brushing teeth twice a day and flossing regularly to maintain dental health. Maintaining clean hair and nails helps instill a sense of pride and boosts their self-esteem. Foster consideration and respect for others by teaching social etiquette like covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, using tissues or elbows, and properly disposing of used tissues to prevent the spread of germs.
Aside from developing good hygiene, teach them cleanliness, personal responsibility, and self-care. It might be challenging at first to help them develop consistent habits, but it is best to start small by letting them help you with simple housework or by following these tips to clean and disinfect their toys.
4. Have adequate sleep
During sleep, the body releases growth hormones that help repair tissues, build muscles, and support overall growth. A well-rested child is better able to concentrate, retain information, and perform well academically. Good sleep supports cognitive processes such as attention, problem-solving, creativity, and decision-making.
Teach children about the importance of a consistent sleep schedule and establish a bedtime routine. It could be taking a warm bath, reading a good book, putting away electronics, then sleeping in a dark, comfortable, and quiet bedroom.
5. Promote emotional well-being
Create a safe and supportive environment to encourage children to express their emotions. Openly communicate and actively listen to validate their emotions and allow them to share their feelings without judgment. Give coping tips such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques, or exploring activities they enjoy as creative outlets.
It is easy to be influenced by others, especially with the rise of social media so help kids foster a positive self-image. Nurture their strengths, celebrate achievements and unique qualities to develop a sense of self-worth and confidence. Teach them empathy and facilitate opportunities for positive social interaction to develop meaningful relationships. A strong social support network provides a sense of belonging, acceptance, and emotional support.
6. Emphasize sun protection
Educate children about the importance of sun protection. Overexposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is a significant risk factor for developing skin cancer later in life. Teach them to apply sunscreen before going outdoors, wear protective clothing, and seek shade during peak sun hours. This can minimize sunburns, and discomfort, and prevent premature aging.
7. Be hydrated
Water helps regulate body temperature, transport nutrients, flush out waste products, maintain skin elasticity, and lubricate joints. Encourage them to drink an adequate amount throughout the day. By staying hydrated, children can maintain optimal physical performance and support their overall bodily functions.
Make water readily available and encourage children to drink it with meals, during physical activities, and whenever they feel thirsty. Limit sugary, carbonated drinks and infuse it with fruits or using fun, colorful water bottles to make water intake fun and enticing.
In a world where fast food, sedentary lifestyles, and digital distractions have become the norm, it’s more crucial than ever for parents to educate their children about the importance of healthy habits. By instilling these early on, we can set our kids on a path of lifelong wellness. From the food they eat to the way they care for their bodies and minds, every aspect of their daily routine matters.
Elizabeth Shields is an experienced author of online articles for various blog posts. She is passionate about parenting, home improvement, wellness, and sustainability topics. She is a married mother of two and apart from writing, enjoys spending her time with her family and friends.