5 Things To Help Our Kids Be Healthy
I have shied away from giving advice to parents. So, only 5 things are on this list. My children are mostly grown, and doing well, for the most part; otherwise I’d not feel at liberty even to share 5 things. Parenting is a highly personal and difficult exploit, miraculous and joy-filled though it may be. What I mostly want parents to know is that I support them, God loves them, they will make mistakes, and still, parenting is worth every bit of effort we can muster to do the best we can to raise our offspring.
So it is with trepidation I share with you my simple list of suggestions for helping our children stay, more or less, healthy.
1) Eat vegetables! Yes, I am speaking to you, the parent. Especially green ones, the more colorful, the better. Set a good example for your kiddos, and in the process, you may become healthier yourself. This is probably the single biggest thing I help my clients do: incorporate more vegetables into their diets. You can put vegetables in soups, salads, smoothies, sauces (anything that starts with “s”), muffins, casseroles, juices, tacos, eggs– you get the idea.
2) From time to time, re-evaluate your family’s work/rest/play balance. Maybe your child really, really wants to be in soccer, basketball, swimming, band, drama, dance, and music lessons! Maybe you do, too! Human beings were designed, I strongly believe, to sleep at night, relax when we eat, and not live under chronic, oppressive stress. Are your kiddos trying to take on too much? If so, they may not be getting the rest they need for healthy immune function. If your family is too busy, consider what it would take to get things back into balance. Maybe its a few small adjustments; maybe what you really need is a radical change. Many years ago, our family developed the habit of taking a day of rest every week. Never regretted that one!
3) Be active as individuals and also together. More and more, Americans spend time with computers and electronic devices, and we sit. We sit for hours and hours. Sitting has been shown to be a significant risk factor for ill health of nearly every kind. Even if you don’t like the gym, find ways to move. Again, be an example. Also, do things with the kids. Go for a bike ride, play an outdoor game like Frisbee golf or Bocci ball. Go for a walk or hike. Make physical activity a part of your child’s lifestyle; and teach them that even when they have to sit, it’s good to get up whenever possible and stretch and move a bit.
4) Hydrate your kids (and yourself). Pretty much every client I see is dehydrated. Some are painfully dehydrated as a result of drinking coffee, soda, and juice while avoiding water. When I was growing up, my mom rarely bought soda. If you can manage it, keep soda out of the house and serve water intentionally. Even 100% fruit juice is not as healthy as it sounds. Juice contains lots of natural sugar, which can be a big problem. Some kids say they don’t like the taste of water; but what I have found is that if they don’t get anything else to drink, they can get used to the taste of water and develop a habit of drinking it. So can you. Staying properly hydrated greatly supports immune function, as well as the proper functioning of every cell in your body.
5) Allow your child to be him/herself. Like the balance of work, rest, and play, this one has to do with stress. Though some stress is normal and even good, we tend to have way too much of it in our lives. Kids can get really stressed out if they are trying to please Mom and Dad by being what they are not designed to be. This is tricky; you don’t want to spoil your kids or raise them to be lazy or disrespectful, I understand. I say this one after watching too many of my kids’ peers crash and burn upon leaving home. Too many of them were trying to live up to unrealistic expectations of their well-meaning parents. I’m not trying to point any fingers, here. Remember I said that parents make mistakes? I’ve certainly made my share. I’m just making an observation that, perhaps, will help someone else, and maybe your child.
So, there you have it. I know I’ve excluded some important points. Feel free to add to my list with your comments.