Now, who doesn’t want to raise a healthy child? All of the parents I have seen, want their children to be healthy and happy. Sounds simple, or does it? When you have a child, you have a dream. You have a picture of what life will be like for you, and your family.
After a while, reality sets in. You realize, the dream has changed. You need to make sure the baby is fed, has a clean diaper and enough rest. This goes on for a while. The next thing you know, your child is running around the house.
It’s all about making sure they get to school, have good friends and get invited on play dates. You also have other responsibilities. You may have a job and the house still needs to be taken care of. And, most importantly let’s not forget about your husband. You also don’t want to forget about yourself.
Here are 7 tips for raising a healthy child:
- Cheer the good stuff. It’s easy to get caught up in what your child is doing wrong. I want you to catch your child doing something right. Make sure to compliment your child for it. Let your child know how much you appreciate that he shared his pencils with his brother. The more you notice the good stuff, the more it will happen.
- Make time for fun. Play with your child. This is their language. Get down at their level and have fun with your child. You can play a game or paint. Go outside and play tag with your child. Start some traditions for having fun together. Take a yoga class together on Saturday morning or go for a bike ride. Be adventuresome and visit new places together. When you are having fun with your child, they will feel more connected to you.
- Make nutrition fun. I’m sure you know, healthy meals don’t magically appear on the table. If fast food is a staple in your house, you really want to change that. More and more of the research is showing that fast food can lead to obesity and even ADHD. Start to plan your family meals. Prepare foods on the weekend that you can heat up during the week. Cut up fresh fruits and vegetables, so they are easily accessible. Add a hummus dip for dipping. Kids love to dip. Replace the cookie jar with fresh fruit. Find recipes that are easy to prepare, look for 30 minute meals.
- Replace screen time with active time. Screen time eats up a lot of time during the day. I know your children love it, but you really need to minimize it. Start to plan activities that replace screen time. When your children get home from school, take them to the park or on a short hike. Plans activities on the weekend. You could enroll them in baseball, basketball, soccer, etc.
- Make sure your child gets enough rest. Sleep is very important. When your child doesn’t have enough sleep it can cause many problems. They will have a hard time focusing. They are easily irritated. It can slow down their metabolism. Make sure they are in a quiet, dark room when they are sleeping. This will help your child relax and fall asleep easily.
- Be a role model for your child. Children learn by watching you. How healthy do you eat? Are you getting enough rest? Do you make time for fun? Children have their eyes on you, more often than you think. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. Just take good care of yourself and enjoy your time with your family.
- Don’t overwhelm your child. When your child has too many rules, they can shut down. Start with a few simple rules and stick with them. This lets your child know what you expect from them. It also lets them know there is a consequence for not following the rules.
Don’t beat yourself up when you mistake. All good parents make mistakes. What’s important is that you learn from them. This also let’s your child know it’s alright to make mistakes. Nobody expects you to be the perfect parent. What’s important, is that you do the best you can.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Mateo, CA. She has helped many parents through the highs and lows of parenting. For a free phone consultation or more information, please call or email (650) 892-0357 or firstname.lastname@example.org.