Before we’re adults, we may take a happy, healthy childhood for granted. But everything changes when you have children of your own and come to understand the challenge of providing for your kids.
You can’t possibly stress over every detail, but you do need to focus on doing whatever you can to encourage health and happiness in every possible way. Specifically, you could sum up your mission with the following seven aims:
· Provide a balanced diet. Children of different ages have different dietary needs. It’s essential, however, to make sure every child gets adequate amounts of basic vitamins and minerals, proteins, and fiber. This resource from the CDC lets you type in your child’s age, sex, and level of physical activity to arrive at a recommended amount of daily fruits and veggies.
· Encourage physical activity. Aside from having to burn off all their excess energy, children need to engage in regular physical activity that strengthens muscles and regulates their blood pressure. At a minimum, they need 60 minutes of physical activity each day. This can be broken into two or three segments, and may include anything from going for a walk to playing on the neighborhood playground.
· Instill confidence. Do you notice areas of your child’s life where confidence is lacking? Help your youngster through those weak areas and teach her or him to overcome challenges. For example, many children suffer from bedwetting and will inevitably grow self-conscious about the issue. Actively working with your child to establish tangible steps for conquering the phenomenon can help him or her become more confident.
· Eliminate toxins. Toxins, chemicals, and pollutants such as household cleaners, paint fumes, and insecticides aren’t good for anyone. But they can be especially unhealthy for young children with developing lungs. Excessive, long-term exposure to harmful substances can irritate their bodies and lead to asthma, allergies, and other long-term health issues.
· Encourage more sleep. While children may try to fight bedtime, it’s not something you should let slide. Toddlers need between 12 and 14 hours of sleep a night, and kids between the ages of 5 and 12 require at least 10.
· Limit screen time. While there’s nothing wrong with letting your children watch a little television or play a game on your phone, don’t let screen time displace active time. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children two years and older should limit time with electronics to less than two hours a day. That stands in stark contrast to the nearly seven hours that many of today’s kids spend with entertainment media.
· Be a role model. As the parent, it’s up to you to be a role model for your children and set an example wherever possible. If you’re preaching healthy eating, make sure you consume a balanced diet yourself. If you believe in sleep, don’t stay up late and complain about how tired you feel in the morning. Show them how to make healthy choices.
Raising healthy kids the right way
While it’s certainly not easy to be a parent, it can be utterly fulfilling and delightful. By focusing on the helpful tips listed above, you can ensure your children get every chance to mature into happy and healthy adults.