It is more of a challenge now for kids and parents than it was back in the 1950s to have an organic childhood. Video games, overbooked sports schedules, and the multitude of processed and fast food options can quickly create bad habits in children that lead to chronic disease further down the road. Take some time to focus on some of these habits to mold a healthier child.
SPEND TIME OUTSIDE.
Spending time outside during every season has multiple benefits, including lowering blood pressure and stress levels, boosting mental health(1), protecting against disease and improving the immune system. (2)
“Exposure to nature switches the body into “rest and digest” mode, which is the opposite of the “fight or flight” mode. When the body is in “fight or flight” mode, it shuts down everything that is immediately nonessential, including the immune system.” (2)
EAT DINNER TOGETHER.
Eating dinner together not only makes children feel connected to the family unit, it has many others benefits as well. Studies show that conversations during meal time boost literacy (3) and that children in families who eat together tended to eat more fruits and vegetables and have a healthier diet than those who did not eat together regularly (4). Also, teenagers of families who eat dinner together were shown to have less high risk behaviors (5)
Family rituals such as regular mealtimes may ease the stress of daily living in the fast-paced families of today’s society. (5)
Kids should drink 8 glasses of water per day! Although tummy aches and constipation are caused by multiple things, this is a good place to start to keep kids regular.
Encourage healthy eating.
You can use the a chart and reward system to encourage kids to eat the rainbow, and notice how different foods affect them. Food sensitivities are linked with many different developmental and gastrointestinal issues. Kids are watching what you are eating, so be a healthy role model. Exposing them to foods on their plate is great! It can take up to 80 times of trying the same food before a child develops a taste for it, so don’t give up!
Encourage a growth mindset.
Children are frustrated easily! A growth mindset teaches them that they may not be able to do something YET, but they will grow and learn and progress. I love these journals and printables for growth mindset.
Hugging boosts the hormone oxytocin, the same hormone that is involved with breastfeeding and skin to skin contact after childbirth. Oxytocin has been linked to social skills in children.
ENCOURAGE healthy sleep habits
Sleep is so important for children to grow, for the body to do its cleaning processes, and for children to be well rested.
Create sleep routines where children go to sleep at the same time everyday and wake up at the same time every day as well. This is called a Circadian Rhythm and is tightly linked with overall health.
A few other great habits:
Spend 10 minutes with each child one on one each day.
Read with or to your child daily!
Don’t overbook your schedule! Kids like routine, but need time to free play.
Limit screen time.
What would you add?
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