How to Raise Healthy Children: Workout with Your Youngsters
There are many different ways to raise happy, healthy and well-adjusted kids and they all usually involve nutritious, balanced meals, regular physical activity and a safe and loving environment.
What makes it more difficult today for modern parents is having to compete with numerous unhealthy temptations, from social media to processed food. Following the experts’ advice, the best way to go is to keep it all a family affair and stay involved as much as possible. Parents play a key role in their children’s behaviour and it can sometimes be overwhelming for them to choose the right direction so here are several paths you can take.
Be open and communicative
One of the main traits of healthy families and successful business and even countries is the freedom of opinion and expression. On the other hand, dysfunctional families are typically full of secrets and lack of communication. Not allowing your children to talk about the obvious issues in the family, be it someone’s illness, addiction or criminal behaviour, teaches them to be fearful and insecure regarding their own identity and perceptions.
Children are naturally curious and inquisitive and this is a healthy trait that should be encouraged so make an effort to communicate with your kids, pay attention to their questions and do your best to provide them with an adequate answer. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate explanation just a two-way communication where they feel listened to and acknowledged.
Be supportive of their feelings and individuality
Evidence shows that people who were denied the opportunity to express their sadness, anger and even excitement in their childhood experience difficulties in their adult relationships and often develop depression. Giving your children the freedom to express their feelings gives them a healthy outlet and also shows that you respect and acknowledge their individuality.
This doesn’t mean you need to fix their problems but rather offer comfort and let your kids know they’re loved. Teach your kids that it isn’t ok to act on their unpleasant feelings and that they should respect the boundaries that you set. Talk to them with calm and politeness and avoid criticism that is detrimental to self-esteem. Explain what behaviours are damaging and praise the ones you approve of. Treat them with respect and they’ll learn how to treat others the same.
Allow age-appropriate independence
Children need parental guidance to form their own sense of self and develop into strong and stable individuals. Parents have a large role in this process and the support they provide for their kids is essential in their learning how to make decisions and solve problems. In a co-dependent relationship, the children are in a relationship addiction which compromises their ability to make decisions and be independent in their other relationships.
It’s often the case that some children take on adult responsibilities too soon and never learn how to trust and rely on others, whereas some are over-protected and pampered so they become dependent and incapable of making their own choices or they’re given too much freedom without any guidance. When they grow up, they are attracted by the opposite and enter a relationship or marriage that is out of balance and dysfunctional.
Children will resist your control and push for independence but this isn’t an act of rebelliousness. You should encourage it but also set age-appropriate limits to teach them self—control so when the time comes for them to leave your nest, they’ll be ready to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes.
An hour of physical activity every day might sound a lot at first but if organised in a clever way, those 60 minutes can be short energy bursts throughout the day. Make sure you allow your kids time to free play as well because they often get so entangled in their business that they burn huge amounts of calories.
If you need to jump in with ideas and give them some direction, suggest playing tag, riding bikes down the street, playing hopscotch, playing catch or soccer, bouncing a balloon in the air or going for walks in the park.
Also, make sure you have a variety of games and equipment stored near so you never run out of ideas. It takes a few simple things like an assortment of balls, jumping ropes, colourful chalks and hula-hoops to keep your kids busy. Limit the time your children spend in sedentary activities that involve the use of electronics, be their role model, participate in the activities and lead the way if necessary.
Make it fun for teens
It can be a daunting task to get your teens motivated and moving because unlike small kids, they need more than just play. They need to find it interesting and challenging so the best way to go is to find an activity that supports their current interests. For instance, if your teens like animals and the outdoors, you could check out local outdoor clubs that organising hiking trips, camping, bird watching or kayaking.
They might be into martial arts, gymnastics or dancing, so look into various classes available at your local youth and community centres. Even drama and acting classes and volunteering at the local charity can get your teens out of their rooms. An active daily schedule is an effective way to help them organise their studying as well. Having a dynamic timetable and using study notes will keep them on the right track when it comes to their academic success which will be a great confidence booster, too.
Be consistent in your parenting methods
What children need most is a safe and stable environment where there is a structural discipline and rules and punishments are not rigid, harsh, inconsistent and arbitrary. If your kids aren’t allowed to learn from their mistakes and be responsible, they’ll grow into angry and anxious individuals incapable of social interaction.
Rules are necessary but they need to be clear, reasonable, age-appropriate, explicit and consistent. Especially with older kids, allow them to question both you and the rules and see if there is room for flexibility and improvement. Avoid physical punishment as it can lead to emotional problems in adulthood but rather introduce reasonable and humane sanctions as natural consequences for breaking the rules.
Be consistent in your parenting methods and be authoritative. Approach your kids with warmth, interest and understanding and the chances are you’ll create a mutual connection of trust so when your teens start dealing with more serious problems, they will turn to you and not experiment with dangerous substances.
As a parent, your main priority is keeping your kids safe and even though they are at risk of injuries by being physically active and doing sports, it’s crucial for their overall well-being that they maintain their routine. You need to ensure they wear the proper protective equipment, eat well-balanced, nutritious meals regularly, have time for their social engagements and maintain their school responsibilities. Such kids are likely to grow up into self-confident, healthy and happy adults.
Written By: Isabel William