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Children's Health

Oct 10, 2021
By
Cardiologist, Gracie Square Hospital

Children’s health can be an incredibly complex topic. Children are all human beings that are younger than 18 years old. This age group grows, develops, and changes rapidly. The needs of a 16 year old are wildly different from those of a 2 year old. But there are some common threads you can follow to improve your child’s health regardless of their age.

Taking Every Major Factor Into Account to Promote Children’s Health

Improve your child's health one step at a time.

Besides the wide range of variability in children’s needs as their age progresses, we also have to consider the multiplicity of aspects that make up a healthy individual at any age:

·        Physical integrity

·        Metabolic health

·        Mental health

·        Development – intellectual, social, spiritual, and physical

Achieving Our Goals as Parents

Therefore, our goals as parents and as broader members of society should be to:

·        Make sure our children grow in an environment free of major hazards

·        Challenge them physically and mentally to a degree to which the challenge can help them grow

·        Have them form proper social bonds at every level – family, school, and beyond school

·        Promote their independence

·        Teach them how to be productive members of society

·        Help them understand how to stay out of trouble and how to find meaning in life

Our approach to children’s health must keep all of these broad goals as well as every aspect of health in mind.

Low Hanging Fruit: Better Nutrition

The best place to start is with the first step: nutrition. What you eat and what your children eat, is a crucial building block that will help you promote their health. At this point it is pivotal to clarify that there is no standard diet that everyone should follow, so if you have questions about specific types of food your children should eat, please consult your dietician or pediatrician here at Antidote Health.

In a more general sense, there are a few things that you should be mindful about when it comes to your child’s diet:

·        Sugar content

·        How much processed food there is in it

·        What they eat while they are not under your direct care

·        How to educate them and instill healthy eating habits in them

We know that every child loves candy; processed food is everywhere; parents cannot control what their children eat while they are at daycare, kindergarten, school, or after school activities. That is why the last point on the list above is the most important in the long term: Help your children understand that they should look for whole foods that are healthy for them, eat in an organized manner, cut back on snacking, and help them out if they start to develop eating disorders.

Promoting Healthy Mental and Intellectual Development

There is no substitute for knowledge and a healthy decision-making toolbox. It is clear that if your child learns how to make the right decisions regarding their nutrition, they will already have an important building block for a healthy life in place. But how can that good decision making extend to other aspects of life?

The answer might seem simple but the implementing it could be challenging. You should encourage your child to discover and feed their minds with all kinds of knowledge from the broadest range of areas possible. Exposure to art, science, language, sports, and a myriad other subjects that are more specific will help promote your children’s health.

Challenging them to apply the knowledge they acquire to solve new, unfamiliar problems is the next step.

Incremental Challenges Promote Children’s Mental Health and Acuity

To help your children use their knowledge, develop their decision-making skills, and become more independent, you must challenge them. Nevertheless, there is a positive way to challenge them that you should recur to broadly speaking.

Children, regardless of their age, require appropriate challenges, which could be defined as those that:

·        Allow them to take a healthy measure of risk – be careful with risks that may cause physical or emotional harm

·        Challenge them incrementally, in a way in which it is not too easy to succeed or fail

·        Compel them to use the widest range of abilities or skills that they have

This will promote their mental health as well as their capability do develop emotionally.

Sports and Physical Activity Promotes Children’s Health in More Ways Than One!

Promote physical activity-in any way!

When we speak about challenging children, sports and other kinds of physical activities come to mind. The challenge in many cases is not only physical, but mental as well. This effectively means you can knock two tips out of the list with physical activity.

Sports can promote proper physical development by strengthening the body. Nevertheless, it is important to take risk into account. Competitive sports at higher levels will increase the risk of injury. The advantage of competitive sports is also the fact that they challenge your child mentally to overcome obstacles, improve certain aspects of their skills, and figure out how to succeed.

Other kinds of physical activity like hiking promote children’s health by exposing them to nature, sunlight, physical challenge. If you introduce an element of navigation, map reading, or even something like plant identification, you will effectively challenge your child to engage with the physical act of hiking through the outdoors while they actively think about their surroundings.

Socializing

Team sports or group hikes for example, also expose your children to an additional vector that promotes their health: socializing. It is important for children at every stage to socialize. Sharing time with children whether they are playing sports or simply playing, is of vital importance for their development in terms of their ability to become:

·        More productive adults who understand teamwork and cooperation

·        Better at understanding others – developing empathy

·        Overall, mentally healthier

Bonus: Promoting your Children’s Health, is Great for your Own Health!

When you look at these five simple steps you can follow to promote your children’s health, you will quickly realize that they also promote your own health as a parent. Join your children in any of the activities above or teach them by example and you will reap the same benefits they do!

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