A healthy child cannot necessarily be assessed by his or her weight or stature. Different factors can contribute to a child being skinny or, for lack of a better word, “thick.” Nevertheless, as parents, we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can so that our children can live and maintain healthy lifestyles.
The three main things to consider are food, exercise, and environment.
Children need to be fed a balanced diet. For school-aged children, make sure they eat a proper breakfast. My mantra to my children is that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you have a choice, try to pack lunches for your children instead of having them buy lunch. If your child is a buyer and the school allows you to restrict or control unhealthy snacks, I urge you to take advantage of that. To maintain a balanced diet, children should try to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables; plenty of starchy foods, such as bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta; some meat, fish, eggs, beans, and other non-dairy sources of protein; and some milk and dairy foods.
Children can get their daily exercise in different forms. The amount of physical activity a child should do depends on his or her age, and this may be reduced or restricted due to any existing health problems. Walking is one great form of exercise for most children. I live in a community that offers its own schools. In the summer months when the weather is great, a lot of the parents and caregivers in the community opt to walk their children to and from school.
Many schools offer at least 20 minutes of physical education activity several times a week. Parents can sign their children up for sport activities after school or on the weekends. My daughter is enrolled in a weekly ballet class. My sons are enrolled in competitive swimming classes. There is a wide range of after school activities offered in most communities—dance instruction, cheerleading, gymnastics, ballet, taekwondo, karate, football, golf, basketball, and horse back riding, to name a few.
A safe and comfortable environment, particularly at school and in the home life, is also pertinent in raising healthy kids. Their environment will affect their intellectual, social, emotional, physical, behavioral, and moral wellbeing. Parents should be more cognizant of what their kids are doing at all times. We should speak up for our children if and when we think they are being treated unfairly. We should do what we can to protect them from harm’s way. Know who their friends are and don’t be too trusting of everybody around them. Be their eyes and ears at all times. Make sure that homework is always completed and enroll them in enrichment courses, if possible, to get any extra help they need with their studies.
Keeping our children healthy through making good food choices, getting enough exercise, and keeping their environment safe and comfortable is a goal we as parents, guardians, and caregivers can all work toward.