Healthy parents raising healthy children
August celebrates Child Health Month. Children learn most from their greatest teachers: their parents. If you want your young ones to grow up smart, strong and healthy, then lead them in these 4 areas of life, and you’ll be off to a great start:
1. Combine vegetables and fruit with Maths
Here’s a nifty idea that combos 3 things that children don’t really like, but if they become second nature because they are a habit, they may stick with them for life. Create a home-made game focused on Maths, spelling or grammar using fruit and vegetables, and then spend time playing with your youngsters as you focus on the food.
Let’s say you decide on Maths. Each colour represents a unit of the decimal system. Tomatoes are multiples of 1,000. Peaches are multiples of 100. Bananas are multiples of 10. Cucumber slices are units of 1. Get your child to work out a series of numbers using the fruit and vegetables, and then let them calculate some simple Maths sums. At the end, symbolically “eat” the numbers or words and tell them that they are swallowing genius. This way they also eat their greens!
2. Get the bodies moving
Modern lifestyles are horribly sedentary – we sit in the car or the taxi, we sit at work and school, we sit in front of the TV or phone. A non-negotiable element of raising healthy children is exercise, which will strengthen the body into adulthood. Pack away the smartphone and the TV, and take the young ones outside for some fresh air and some fun time.
Play hide and go seek, throw a ball, jump in the pool if it’s summer and you have one, go for a walk in the park, play with the dog, jump on the trampoline, go for a run, have an egg-and-spoon race in the back yard or down the road (be mindful of traffic), go pick up rubbish on the beach. Your children will love you for the time spent together, and you will all get some exercise (you included, much to your doctor’s delight). Tired children also sleep better at night.
3. Make brushing teeth lots of fun
Cavities and gum disease are strongly related to oral hygiene, and the habits that children form in this area when they are young will last them a lifetime. Always ask your children if they have brushed their teeth, remind them, and do regular check-ups (sneak up on them and have some fun by surprising them in the bathroom).
Turn brushing teeth into ‘Idols’ by using the toothbrush as the microphone. Get them to sing along as they carefully brush both upper and lower teeth, spluttering through all the toothpaste as they belt out their favourite hit. Be careful that they don’t choke on or swallow toothpaste (excess fluoride can be harmful). So what if the bathroom has toothpaste splatters everywhere? All you’ll remember is how much fun you had.
4. Love, love and more love
The thing that children most need from their parents or guardians is love. If they know they are loved and cared for, they will always respond to your leadership and the way you try to steer their lives. A big part of them feeling loved is spending time with them, despite your busy schedule. Make sure that birthdays are extra special, and engage with your children in areas that they enjoy and are interested in.
When young ones mess up or they have to be disciplined, it is far more palatable if they know their parents really care. Work hard to create a loving environment for your children, for they are the world’s future.
Have a chat with your doctor about the best way to prepare meals for school, and how to handle sports injuries and other scrapes and bangs.
For more information please contact:
Dr V Moodley
Ethekwini Hospital & Heart Centre
Telephone: +27 (0)31 581 2512
Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.