Children depend on their adult caregivers to make the right choices for them. Although kids can make their own daily decisions when they’re at school or with friends, it’s really up to adults in their lives to help carve a path for them. To ensure that your children are healthy and making the most healthy decisions when they’re not with you, teach them good habits they can adopt that will benefit them into adulthood.
1. Foods to Eat
Children should consume a proper balance of nutrients that include healthy fats, fiber, protein, and calcium. A proper diet provides the necessary nutrition for a growing body while preventing obesity and other health problems. An occasional indulgence of the kids’ menu doesn’t hurt, but children should be eating healthy 80 percent of the time. To stick to this principle, they should eat most meals at home and bring lunches to school.
2. Foods to Avoid
Kids love sweets, but sweets don’t like kids. Too much sugar consumption can lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease later in life. Sugar should be limited to 25 grams per day, but many parents don’t stick to this rule because they don’t know how much sugar is in everything their children consume. Although desserts are loaded with sugar, it’s sugary drinks that can create the most problems because of how often they’re consumed. Between juice boxes and sodas, kids can be drinking several sugar-laden beverages per day without consciously realizing it.
In addition to sugar, caffeine from colas can also be unhealthy for kids. Cut out the sweet beverages to limit both sugar and caffeine, and replace them with naturally-flavored water instead. And while you’re on the less-caffeine kick, remember that chocolate also contains caffeine. If you want to avoid over-stimulating your children, limit how much chocolate they eat.
3. Exercise is Everything
Exercise is essential for kids as a way to keep them at a healthy weight, improve their brain function, and help them develop social skills. Encourage your kids to play in school as well as at home. Buy them a bicycle instead of a tablet, install a basketball hoop in the driveway, and add a trampoline to the backyard. Anything that motivates your kid to move and invite other kids to play is a good thing.
4. Just Say No
As your kids get older, the temptation to try drugs, alcohol and tobacco will arise. It’s a scary phase for parents because you can’t keep constant tabs on your teens, and you’re not always aware of the influences around them. Teach your children about harmful substances and how to say “no” to peer pressure. Many parents don’t talk about these sensitive topics because they feel that if they don’t acknowledge it, then it’s not real. However, discussing it at home can keep your kids informed and help build trust and responsibility in them. If your child is feeling drawn to substances, help them identify what’s causing them to seek this behavior. Getting to the root of the problem can be just as important as educating them on the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
5. Natural Healing
Sometimes anxiety is what leads young people to experiment with drugs, but you can help steer them in a different direction by trying the cannabinoid, CBD, instead. CBD has been shown to provide natural relief for anxiety. It has none of the high associated with THC, but it has the healing effects of the natural herb from which it is derived. CBD oils might taste and feel weird to children, but gummy chews can be a more palatable option. Research the market carefully and get recommendations from your child’s pediatrician or therapist before you introduce this supplement.
It’s true that children are resilient and can bounce back from just about anything, but it doesn’t mean that you should wait until it’s too late to set them on the right path. Lifelong habits are hard to break, and your children will one day live independently with the lessons they bring from childhood. Start laying the foundation now so they can live a better life in the long-term.
Julia Merrill is on a mission. She wants to use the information to close the gap between medical providers and their patients. She started BefriendYourDoc.org to do just that.