As parents, our children are our world. We put them first over all circumstances and do what we can to protect them. It’s our mission to ensure they grow up happy, healthy, safe, and successful, but it can sometimes be difficult to know what exactly we should be doing to achieve this. Here are four key ways you can put your parenting skills to the test to help raise children on the path for a bright future.
Encourage Them To Love Healthy Food
We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic, and with such easy access to all of our favorite foods, it’s no wonder. There’s temptation on every corner, from sweet treats to fried foods and much more. One of the best things we can do for our children is to encourage a love of healthy, delicious home-cooked meals. It puts them on a good path for making the right choices as they get older and helps them to maintain a healthy weight.
We all know kids can be picky, which can be frustrating, but the key is to stick with it. Never reward children with unhealthy food, and if possible don’t even have it in the house. Keep encouraging them to try lots of different ingredients, and make meals that are packed with nutrients. Lots of veggies can be finely diced in a food processor and added to ground meat in dishes like bolognese, lasagne, and chili without compromising the flavor or texture. Fruit smoothies are also popular with kids; there are lots of ways you can sneak in nutritious ingredients if they’re a little fussy.
Setting a good example for children by filling up on lots of healthy foods yourself is also important, as well as encouraging their interest in food. You could grow vegetables with them in the garden, teach them about different foods, and let them help out with the cooking on age-appropriate kitchen tasks. Even something as simple as washing the salad or stirring a saucepan can be enough for them to feel like they are helping. Research has shown again and again that kids are more open to trying foods that they have helped to cook.
Show Them How Exercise Can Be Fun
Kids need daily vigorous activity, and sixty minutes a day of rigorous activity is recommended right up to adolescence. Although children are naturally energetic, they will still want to feel like they are having fun. If exercise feels like a chore, they are unlikely to want to do it. Think outside the box–running around having a water fight in the garden, jumping on a trampoline or bouncy castle, or playing laser tag are all fun activities that are great for cardiovascular health and also very enjoyable. You could go on family bike rides, hike outside in nature, or swim together.
Experiment with different sports and extracurricular activities and find one they enjoy. It could be martial arts, dance, a team sport, or something else entirely. In many cases, just arranging a play date outdoors with some other children or taking them to a park will get them running around and meeting their daily exercise goal. You could try gardening or camping, both options to get your kids outside to appreciate the importance of nature and to build life skills like patience, pitching a tent, and carrying supplies.
Teach Them The Importance of Relaxation
Something that so many of us overlook when it comes to our children is teaching them the importance of relaxation. It’s easy to believe that children don’t have stressful lives–with loving parents, a roof over their head, tasty food, and no worry of bills–how could they? But think about it, everything is new and potentially scary to children. They are starting new schools, meeting new people, learning lessons such as loss and failure, and much more.
It has been proven by psychologists that even young children can suffer anxiety and depression, and so their mental health isn’t something to overlook. Show them some relaxation strategies that they can do if they feel a little stressed or overwhelmed. It could be taking a hot bath, journaling or mindful coloring. It could be putting on their favorite show, or they could play the Final Fantasy 15 mobile game or other mobile games to unwind for a while. Let them know that you are around to speak to them whenever things get bad, and that it’s perfectly okay to talk about their feelings.
Be Wary of Toxins
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and just about everything we do is powered by fossil fuels–then later scrubbed clean by all kinds of chemicals. These are dangerous for everyone, but particularly children who are under developed and less hardy. We can’t wrap up our kids in a bubble, but there are a few things we can do to protect them.
First, try feeding them more organic food. However, you don’t need to buy everything organic (this can be expensive). A good rule of thumb is if you eat the skin, buy organic. Otherwise, non organic produce is fine. Things like apples, grapes, and tomatoes, for example, will have come into contact with pesticides that can remain on the skin even after washing. With foods like avocados, melons, and oranges, the tough inedible skin protects the part we eat inside. Filtering water is another smart move, since everything from viruses, fecal bacteria, plastics, heavy metals, pesticides regularly show up when our tap water is tested. Even a simple water filtering jug can remove around ninety-nine percent of these substances, so it’s a cheap and easy way to protect your family. Finally, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t smoke around children, and they should never be in a room where people are smoking. The dangers of passive smoking have been well established; it can even cause sudden death in babies.
By taking some of these important steps, we can help to ensure that our children stay happy, healthy, and safe.
What are your secrets to raising happy, healthy kids?