We all want our children to be fit, happy and healthy, and the best way to ensure they are as parents is to be proactive in how we approach their overall wellness.
While exposure to germs and viruses outside of our homes is out of our control, there are several things we can do to strengthen our children’s immune systems and their overall ability to stay bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
In this post, we will show you ten ways in which you can help your children maintain a good level of mental and physical health. Many of these simple strategies involve turning healthy habits into a daily routine, while others are based on adopting a mindset. When combined, they will go a long way towards helping your children live their best and healthiest lives.
- Get Good Sleep
Not getting good sleep every night is the quickest way to succumb to illness and disease because it can negatively impact upon your immune system. In children it can also lead to obesity as sleep deprivation can affect their metabolism and contribute to poor performance at school due to them not being able to concentrate.
Depending on their age school age children need between 8 and 11 hours to ensure they function at optimum levels the next day. One of the best ways to help them achieve this is to establish a nightly routine which may involve going to bed at the same time every day, showering before getting into bed and enjoying a period of wind down or quiet time.
It is also a good idea to ensure their room is conducive to sleep by being tidy and making sure its levels of light, noise and temperature are to their liking.
- Eat Healthily
As well as getting good sleep, it is important for children to eat healthily because if they don’t, they could be susceptible to the likes of diabetes, obesity and other health conditions.
Try to ensure your family enjoys a balanced diet which includes at least five serves of vegetables and two of fruit a day. They should also be consuming plenty of whole grains and proteins like lean meat, seafood, legumes, eggs, nuts and seeds.
At the same time, try to discourage them from jams, soft drinks, chocolates, lollies, crisps and fast food items that are full of sugar, highly processed and have little in the way of nutritional value.
- Personal Hygiene
If there is one lesson to learn from the recent pandemic it is that taking care of your personal hygiene is critical to staying healthy. For instance, the simple act of washing your hands regularly with antibacterial soap goes a long way towards protecting yourself from contracting colds, flu and COVID-19. It also makes you less prone to gastroenteritis and prevents you from spreading diseases to others.
By properly showering at least once a day you reduce the opportunity for pathogens to enter your body. It also helps avoid body odour issues, provides you with more confidence and helps to maintain a nice appearance.
- Be Active/Exercise Regularly
One of the best ways to maintain a robust level of health and fitness is to be active or exercise on a regular basis. By doing this you can reduce your susceptibility to illness and stop your weight from ballooning. Congruently, you can make both your muscles and bones stronger and improve the overall performance of your brain.
As a general rule, you should aim to do around an hour of physical activity every day that ranges between getting your heart rate up and making yourself feel breathless. This could include going for a family walk or a bike ride, playing football, doing yoga or having fun in a playground.
When it comes to getting the family to exercise or be active, the key is to have fun and not make it seem like a chore.
- Look After Your Teeth
If you or your family don’t look after your teeth, you can expose yourself to a world of pain. Poor oral hygiene is linked to a range of conditions including gum diseases and cavities, which are easily prevented by taking care of your teeth.
The best way to do this is to ensure you brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes, usually as soon as you wake up and just before going to bed. You should also use a tongue scraper and floss or gargle with salt water. In addition, you should visit your dentists every six months and arrange to have a hygienist give your teeth a professional clean.
If you don’t look after your teeth this way they could succumb to plaque, which converts the sugar on your teeth into acids that can cause problems by eating away at the enamel of your tooth.
- Regular Eye Checks
Just like your teeth, it is crucial to look after your eyes because if you don’t it could lead to vision issues such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and retinopathy, which is a sign of diabetes.
Many people rely on their eyes to do everyday tasks like driving, reading, computer work and watching television. Therefore, it is a good idea to regularly schedule appointments with professionals like 1001 Optometry, who will identify and swifty treat any eye issues you may be suffering from. You should also eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, wear protective sunglasses outside and not smoke.
As a general rule, opticians advocate you get your eyes checked every two years.
- Quit Smoking
Talking of smoking, if you do currently partake in this activity, you should quit immediately. As well as being an expensive habit to maintain, it has the potential to do damage to pretty much every organ in your body, including your brain, lungs and heart.
If you don’t want to quit smoking for yourself, consider doing so for your children. You might not be aware that they breathe quicker than adults, so therefore when they are exposed to your second-hand smoke, they inhale more chemicals than an adult. This significantly increases their risk of asthma.
- Limit Screen Time
While technology in the form of Smart TVs, iPads and mobile phones has plenty of benefits for both adults and children, too much exposure to screens can cause problems. Indeed, an excess of screen time has been linked to a myriad of issues including disrupted or poor-quality sleep.
In addition, for young people between the ages of 5 and 17, too much screen time can lead to behavioural problems and issues with their diet, weight. It can also result in them suffering from attention disorders, anxiety, hyperactivity, a lack of self-esteem and poorer psychosocial health overall.
So, how much screen time is too much? Well, the Australian Institute of Family Studies recommends that children under the age of two have no screen time per day. Meanwhile those aged between 2-5 years old should only get an hour, while those between 5-17 should have no more than two hours of (sedentary) screen time.
To achieve this, it is a good idea to introduce screen-free times such as during meals or at least an hour before bedtime.
- Talk about Mental Health
While it is important to maintain your family’s physical health, it is also critical to ensure they are in a good headspace as well.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, over 300,000 children in Australia currently suffer from mental disorders. These range from ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and depression to anxiety and eating disorders.
To reduce the chances of your children or partner suffering from mental health issues, try to encourage open and honest discussion of their feelings and never ridicule or play them down. It is also important to recognise any signs of stress and be as supportive as possible when they arise.
- Lead by Example
Perhaps most importantly, you have to lead by example. As a parent, you can’t expect your children to eat a balanced diet or brush their teeth twice a day if you don’t. Likewise, you won’t inspire them to exercise or reduce their screen time if you are constantly glued to the couch and your devices.
Children learn from observing behaviour, not what you tell them to do. So, if you focus on being a source of inspiration for them and your partner, you’ll go a long way towards keeping them happy and healthy.