Healthy habits are, without a doubt, the key to a lifetime of healthy living. There really can be no time that is too early to start when it comes to ensuring that the child imbibes these healthy habits. In fact, children pick up a lot of these habits from what they observe around themselves. As parents, therefore, there is a lot that we can do to nurture a child’s physical well-being.
At Pragyanam, one of the best CBSE schools in Gurgaon, we are totally committed to the holistic development of children. We strongly believe that a healthy mind can only rest in a healthy body, and hence, physical wellness is an intrinsic part of our regime. Here are some handy tips and healthy habits that we can follow as parents and caregivers to ensure that we raise children who are physically strong and, hence, also mentally resilient.
1. Balanced Meals
In times when childhood obesity and a range of childhood diseases are on the increase, the importance of a nutritious diet cannot be overstated. It is important that you get children used to eating fruits and vegetables that are a powerhouse of nutrients. Serving a variety of vegetables to give them options works well. While children are young, making a game out of tasting new fruits and veggies can go a long way in getting their taste buds used to them. Patience is key here. There will be times when the child will not take to a particular vegetable. However, success lies in not giving up. Some amount of creativity in presentation can also often do the trick.
As children get older, it will also help if they are encouraged to read food labels to figure out the nutritional value of the food. Needless to say, this will encourage them to make the right decisions themselves, as opposed to constant parental advisory on a particular food not being good for them.
Two other aspects that go a long way in terms of overall health include not skipping breakfast and for the child to remain hydrated. Breakfast is often sacrificed at the altar of time. It, however, is the most important meal of the day, and as the adage goes, it must be consumed like a king! Similarly, children need to be encouraged to remain hydrated throughout the day.
Above everything, when it comes to eating, you need to ensure that it is mindful. Children need to be encouraged to listen to their bodies and to avoid overeating.
2. Screen Time
It is a common sight to see children and adults alike glued to their screens. Excessive screen time, however, can lead to multiple issues, including a range of health problems such as obesity, poor eyesight, and more. Excessive screen time also almost always comes at the cost of physical exercise. It is imperative that some reasonable, age-appropriate limits be placed around the amount of time that can be spent in front of screens. Additionally, there need to be some screen-free zones at home, including the dinner table and the bedside. In fact, studies show that long hours of screen time in the evening impact the melatonin levels you need to fall asleep. It is, therefore, a good practice to turn off all electronic devices at least an hour before sleep time.
3. Stay Active
Another very important aspect is for children to stay active. Whether it is involvement in sports, dance, or any other physical activity of their choice, ensure that they get at least an hour of physical activity each day. It will go a long way in keeping them physically fit as well as mentally agile. In fact, while children are young if physical activity can be made a part of family time, it will be imbibed as lifelong healthy habits that will stand them in good stead.
4. Quality sleep
The importance of restful nights in the child’s growth, learning, and overall well–being cannot be over-emphasized. Adequate sleep leads to not only improved physical health but also better mental health, along with improved attention, behavior, learning, and memory. Not getting enough sleep, on the other hand, can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, and even depression.
Of course, sleep needs are different for different age groups. The following are typical amounts of sleep that children need in a 24-hour period:
- Infants: 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
- Toddlers: 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
- Preschoolers: 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
- School-going children: 9 to 12 hours
- Adolescents : 8 to 10 hours
To ensure that the child gets enough sleep, the following tips may come in handy:
- Dim the lights
- Stop use of electronics at least an hour before bed
- Limit caffeine
- Take a warm bath
Overall, a consistent sleep schedule helps the child wind down.
5. Emotional well-being
We all know that physical and emotional well-being are closely connected. It is important to ensure that the child’s emotional needs are met. Helping them identify their emotions and creating a safe space for them to express their feelings are all important for them to feel emotionally safe and, therefore, for their overall well-being.
To Sum Up
Showing is always better than telling. It stands to reason, then, that children learn more from the behavior that is modeled for them. If they see their parents giving the due amount of time and energy to their physical well-being, the odds are that it will become an important part of their priority list, too. That physical activity will help them stay fit, as well as tackle stress that has become a part of modern life is a given.