After you exit the troublesome twos, fours, and threes era of child rearing, you may find yourself struggling to establish healthy patterns of behavior in your child. The school year is quickly approaching, they are stuck inside in front of a screen at the best of times but restlessly finding more “inventive” ways to occupy themselves at the worst of times.
Fortunately, you have the power to shape their futures in huge and healthy ways. Regular visits to health care professionals, physical activities, and fun hobbies are just a few of the things you might already be doing to ensure your child is happy and healthy. But when it comes to influencing their long-term health, you’ll have to instill certain habits early on. Here’s what you need to know:
Why Start Early?
Babies and young children are programmed to absorb information like a sponge. Thus, even if you, yourself, are unable to adhere to a specific lifestyle change that you know would be beneficial to your health and wellness in the long term, are within your rights as a parent to rear your children with that habit as second nature.
A very real “see as I say, not as I do” situation!
For example, even if you do not prioritize an active lifestyle for yourself, personally, you can likely see the value in it for your children. Get them into sports early to take advantage of their absorbent minds!
Healthy Habits and Independence
Controlling your own health and longevity is incredibly rewarding and powerful. It will make children feel more confident and self-assured to be in control and up-to-speed on the routines which keep the household (and perhaps someday one of their own!) chugging along.
Dental Health Impacts Overall Health
Did you know that your dental health plays a huge role in your overall health and can even impact how long you live? Incredible!
(And here I thought all my mouth was good for shouting at Jeopardy contestants!)
Your dental health can actually be the determining factor in a lot of serious and chronic conditions. At one point, researchers were even able to make a connection between the amount of lip plaque ingested as a result of not flossing and the diagnosis of severe heart disease. Yikes!
Before even thinking of making any skittish children an appointment, consider setting an example by setting up your own dental appointment and bringing your (well behaved!) child along!
Beyond what your child can do in the home, there are plenty of things your child can do to ensure safety and health outside the safety of your four walls.
For instance, staying up to date on vaccinations and preparing adequately for treks in the outdoors are just two ways parents can help set an example for their children when it comes to adequately preparing for environmental threats.
These are not theoretical threats, either. There are plenty of things your child should be wary of in the great outdoors. Lyme disease in Mexico, poison ivy in the Northeast United States, drinking water in the world at large—it seems as though everywhere you turn, there is an environmental hazard to be avoided! Children are especially susceptible to diseases found in nature like lyme disease and other natural or environmental factors, so education and prevention are instrumental in keeping them safe.
Wearing appropriate length clothing, staying up to date on vaccinations, and familiarizing yourself with local fauna and trails are just some of the ways you and your family can stay ready for everything in the great outdoors.
Imparting upon your children the importance of strong mental health is a great foundation for their long term wellness. Mental and physical health are often treated as separate entities, to be treated and addressed as such. But researchers in the realm of wellness have found that this is not the case!
Mental and physical health work in tandem to keep you working at your absolute best. Giving your child the tools to master both will be integral later in life, when your kids need to tap into their resilience and find that you had uniquely prepared them long ago!
Robust communication skills is just one set of skills that helps inform good mental wellness in the long term. What does communication have to do with healthy living you may ask? Well, emotional intelligence and emotional maturity are two skills that, when mastered in tandem, completely change how the productivity and constructiveness of each and every interaction your child participates in.
Relationship with Food
The way your child interacts with food will shape a large bulk of their life. Think of how many hours a week you spend dedicated strictly to eating. Now, imagine those hours were gone, or spent hungry, or binging, or miserable instead. That does not sound like a great picture, does it?
As they grow, your childrens’ relationships with food will begin to mature and, unfortunately, will undoubtedly all face their own unique set of challenges to overcome. Later on in adolescence, puberty will trigger changes in their body that may be unsettling or even downright troubling to some children.
Give your child healthy language to discuss their body with and refer to their body to. Reinforce the idea that food is fuel, meant to make them feel good and perform at their peak with the occasional treat. Food is not something to be feeling guilty or bad over. Encourage them to turn to you for nonjudgmental advice or just a friendly ear if they ever feel strangely or nervous about any changes in their relationship with food.