No matter how many kids you have or how experienced you are with children, parenting isn’t easy – and it’s even harder now that the world we live in consists of an abundance of processed food, hidden sugar, gadgets, and computer games. All of these things make it increasingly harder to ensure our kids are happy, healthy, and well-rounded.
Although it may seem like a never-ending battle, the good news is that there are many things you can do to help protect the health and wellbeing of your children.
Monitor screen time
More kids have tablets and phones than ever before, so the issue of too much screen time is a problem facing millions of parents every day. If you can relate, you are probably looking for ways to manage this problem without causing World War 3 in your home. One of the most effective ways is to discuss the hazards in an age-appropriate way and then be clear about how much screen time you feel is appropriate.
Agree on daily or weekly timescales and only deviate when you feel that it’s justified. Offering extra screen time for good behavior or helping around the home is perfectly fine if you think that it’s of benefit. Many parents set boundaries and then don’t stick to them, which gives mixed signals to a child and can ultimately cause even bigger problems.
We never want to consider that our children may get poorly from time to time, but the reality is that they do, so it makes sense to have reliable healthcare in place. Full-service health professionals such as Integris Family Care have a range of specialists on hand to ensure that your child is well cared for should the need arise.
From infants to adults, knowing your family will be taken care of when it’s most needed will be a huge weight off your shoulders and will also give you peace of mind.
Avoid processed foods
Yes, processed foods are handy, and yes, they are cheap, but they are also packed to the brim with sugars, preservatives, and a host of other nasties that are bad for your health. If mealtimes in your home involve grabbing a packet of chicken nuggets or microwaving some pre-cut fries, it may be time to consider the long-term damage it could be causing your children. Obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, to name but a few, can all be caused by overeating and eating the wrong things.
Instead, get back to basics and create meals from fresh produce. Leafy greens, legumes, nuts, fruits, and cruciferous vegetables all contain an abundance of nutrients to help your kids thrive. Given how popular plant-based eating is nowadays, there are thousands of delicious recipes to choose from. If you think eating vegetables is boring – think again. You can create many flavorful, nutrient-dense meals – all of which are healthy, mood-boosting, and provide lots of much-needed energy too.
Keeping your children active is very important for their health and wellbeing. Although they will usually do some sports at school, they also spend a fair bit of time sitting down. When at home, encourage them to play in the garden, take them for long walks, or visit the local park and kick around a soccer ball together.
Staying active helps keep their hearts in good shape, promotes brain health, and can reduce the risk of gaining too much weight, which poses its own set of difficulties. If your kids are older and want to stay home all day playing computer games, try to make activity fun by organizing a scavenger hunt with their friends or arranging a softball game with other kids from the neighborhood. Anything that piques their interest should be enough to do the trick.
Promote body confidence
Children are extremely vulnerable when it comes to body confidence and may take everything they hear literally, so it’s best not to discuss weight and physical appearance too much in their presence. They also go through phases where the opinions of others and being accepted by others is all that matters.
Don’t force them to wear clothes they don’t feel comfortable in and, don’t talk about your body issues or things you hate about your appearance. The more body confident you appear to be, the more likely they are to grow up feeling the same way.
A close group of friends can make a big difference to how your child handles social situations and can also go a long way to boosting their confidence. There will, however, be times when they encounter friendships that are not good for them. If you feel that any of their peer group are negatively impacting your children’s wellbeing, it may be time to evaluate these relationships.
Talk to your child about it, explain the importance of surrounding themselves with people who make them feel good about themselves, and if all else fails, talk to the school or the other kids’ parents. Sometimes all it takes is one phone call to remedy matters, but if left to fester, things can escalate, and it could lead to longer-term repercussions on everyone involved.
Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep, particularly when it comes to children. Lack of sleep can cause mood swings, lack of focus and hinder our ability to digest information. If you don’t currently implement a structured bedtime routine, it’s time to put one in place.
Many parents think that letting their children drift off to sleep watching TV or playing on their phones just before bedtime helps them relax. The truth is that it promotes brain activity and will make it a lot harder for them to fall into a deep sleep. Instead, encourage them to read a book or, if they are younger, read to them until they settle down for the night.
Warm baths, classical music, and keeping liquids to a minimum right before bed can also prove helpful and are great tools to aid a restful night’s sleep.