Parents naturally want to raise healthy, happy kids. Fortunately, it’s often easy to keep children happy. As far as the healthy part goes, however, a little more work is involved. Yes, there are some health problems that are commonly seen in children, with some being serious and others not so much. The good news is that children are very resilient. In fact, today’s children have an average life expectancy that ranges from 75 to 80 years. If your goal is to do everything possible to raise healthy, happy children, keep the following tips in mind.
1. Play and Interact with Your Child
Children want nothing more than to have the attention of their parents. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s moments like horsing around the backyard, completing an arts and craft project together, and playing board games that often mean a lot to a child. Playtime is also important because it’s what contributes to a child’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development and well-being. It’s also a time when parents and children can bond.
2. Give Your Child Some Independence
It’s natural to want to run along with your child as they’re first learning to ride a bike so they don’t fall and scrape their knee. Yet there are times when it’s best to let your child have some room to try things on their own. Sure, you can still supervise when necessary. But giving children the freedom to explore is what will allow them to develop their own interests and passions. Plus, there’s something to be said for the feeling of being able to accomplish something yourself, whether it’s tying a shoe or baking the first batch of cookies.
3. Look for Signs of Anything Out of the Ordinary
Children don’t always know when something isn’t quite right. You may be able to tell when your child suddenly has a loss of energy or doesn’t eat as much as they normally do. But some signs of the potential problem aren’t as obvious. For instance, anxiety disorders in children that are older are often mistaken as the normal moody behavior associated with teenagers. But anxiety is a form of stress that can affect children both physically and mentally. It’s important to look for any unusual behaviors in children of all ages. Being proactive is what allows problems to be diagnosed and treated early.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Set Limits
Children aren’t likely to be aware of the importance of eating a balanced meal that includes veggies or getting a good night’s sleep. You are your child’s parent, not the friend that just goes along with anything that makes them happy. It’s your responsibility to set reasonable and appropriate limits for your child. It’s sometimes a struggle for parents to do this. But limits will help your child feel safe and secure. Limits also teach children self-discipline, healthy eating and exercise habits, let them know someone cares, and help them cope with uncomfortable feelings. It may not be pleasant to endure a child’s tantrum when they’re told to get to bed, but it’s actions like this that are ultimately good for your child.
5. Be Flexible, Make Routines Fun, and Make Time for Yourself
You may have a set routine with your child, but there are times when it’s okay to do things randomly. For example, your child might come home from school and ask to finish the story you started reading together last night. With the routines, you do have, such as brushing teeth and getting ready for bed, make an effort to make those moments as enjoyable as possible. Finally, don’t forget to take some time for yourself. This may mean having play dates for your kids over other parents’ homes or asking a friend to watch your child now and then. However, paying attention to your own physical and mental well-being will also be a good thing for your child.
It’s frequently said that children don’t come with a set of instructions. While this is true, being active and involved with your kids’ lives can increase the odds of raising children who will be just as involved and observant of their own children’s needs later in life. For issues that aren’t physical in nature, reassure your child that you experienced many of the same growing pains as a child and teenager yourself. It’s often positive, meaningful, and honest words that help kids see the bright side of life’s ups and downs.