There’s been some interesting research and studies conducted of late that give parents more of an insight into some of the challenges our children are facing. For starters, The Good Childhood Report 2012 showed approximately one in ten children experience a low sense of well being. Meanwhile the Australian National Health Survey (NHS) results indicate that 24.9 per cent of children are overweight or obese. Furthermore, there is much concern about school bullying and this is highlighted increasingly in the media.
So, if the children of today are more susceptible to gaining weight, have greater stresses to deal with than previous generations and are not as active as perhaps they should be, what can we do to encourage kids to be healthy and happy?
1 – Sleep. Our kids need around 10 hours sleep per night to function, concentrate and be their most focused and productive. If your child struggles to go to bed early, why not try moving bedtime up by 10 minutes per night, so that they don‟t even realise they are getting that extra shut-eye.
2 – Balanced Diet. Even as adults, we feel the effects of a poor diet. Sometimes, life does get in the way and it is a real effort to ensure we are eating right. Our kids benefit from a balanced diet which includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, sufficient calcium and the right source of protein and carbohydrates. If you are time poor, a suggestion might be to prepare nutritious meals in bulk, grocery shop online and choose healthy canteen lunch options.
3 – Involve the children with meal planning/cooking. Sometimes involving the children with nutritious meal planning or cooking makes them more interested in eating it because they played an active part in the preparation.
4 – Play together. We all get a little pre-occupied with electronic gadgets. A great habit to get into is to turn off all electronic devices for an hour each day just to connect with each other as a family and really be present with one another. Use this time to play, be active and just talk to one another.
5 – Socialise. There are benefits to forging and strengthening friendships. Friends uplift our moods and create pleasurable past-times. Children enjoy socialising just as much as adults. Strong social skills help increase confidence and self-esteem and those are attributes that we believe most parents would like their kids to develop.
6 – Start an extra curriculum activity. It‟s great if our children want to participate in a sport. It‟s an opportunity for them to be more active as they interact with others that share the same interests. Other non-sport based activities benefit too as they all teach children new skills. Learning new skills develops our sense of mastery and self esteem. When children have a positive sense of self-worth it‟s more likely they will feel more confident as well.
7 – Spend more time outdoors. Encourage the kids to play outdoors for a set amount of time each day to enjoy the benefits of fresh air and a daily dose of vitamin D. It also a great break from the electronic gadgets that consume so much of our lives.
Photo: © Marzanna Syncerz – Fotolia.com
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