April 22-26 is marked with an important movement across the country. Every Kid Healthy Week, a national campaign that rallies for public health and wellness in schools, is held this month to help raise awareness about children’s health. To show our support for this cause, Phoenix ER & Medical Hospital wants to discuss how parents can help keep every kid in their family healthy.
Child Nutrition & Activity
We all know that regular exercise and eating lots of fruits and veggies are good ways to stay healthy, and this applies to kids as well. But when looking at the routines and diets that many adults use to stay fit, it is important to realize that some of these techniques could actually be unhealthy for children. Certain dieting fads like cutting out carbs or limiting protein could be harmful to younger children since their growing bodies need more energy to fuel their development. Here are some things that parents can keep an eye on with their children to make sure they are maintaining their nutrition and health:
- Make sure meals have lots of extra veggies or fruit, but do not limit or cut out protein or healthy grains, like oats, barley, and brown rice.
- When shopping at the grocery store, look for foods with fewer preservatives or artificial flavoring. Bread, for example, is much healthier for your kids when it is bought fresh and has whole grains in it.
- Encourage exercise through play, for young children. This can be done with games of tag, family dance-offs, or other games that will keep kids moving while still keeping them excited and having fun. When kids get older, they’ll be able to engage in sports and other physical activities, but parents can still keep them excited to move with playtime while they’re little.
- Children, even older children, should not take part in competitive weightlifting. Weightlifting can be dangerous for children who are still growing, and are not considered safe methods of strength training for kids. Instead, if your child wants to get stronger, then have them engage in safe, age-appropriate strength training with adult supervision. Lightweights and exercises like push-ups can be good ways for older kids and pre-teens to get stronger without the increased risk of damage to their tendons and muscles.
Making sure that kids get all of their essential food groups and have access to safe, fun physical activity are two ways to set them up with the building blocks of personal health. When they know what to eat and have fun with exercise, they will be more mindful of their nutrition and activity later in life.
Keeping Kids Engaged with Health
Even when family meals are chock-full of fruit and vegetables and a family is regularly active, it can be hard for children to understand what their personal health means. At young ages, it can be difficult for kids to understand why some foods are bad, and as they get older, teens can sometimes be dismissive of their own needs. In these situations, some parents might worry about how to teach their child how to maintain their own health.
While every family and every child might have different approaches on how to get engaged with their health, here are some of our top methods to show kids of all ages how to get involved in healthy decisions:
- To help kids of all ages get more engaged with their nutrition, let each child in your family have a night where they get to pick what the family eats for dinner. Parents can set up rules about what each meal must have (i.e., parents can require that kids pick one or two vegetables that are either in the dish or a side dish with dinner) and then let their kids pick what to eat. This can be fun for kids and teens, and also give them the chance to start thinking about what they like to eat and how to make those meals healthy.
- Older kids and teens can go one step further with their nutrition and have them help with cooking. On their nights to pick dinner, let them have a part in preparing the meal. This will not only teach them important life skills but help them to feel more engaged with their choices and what they eat. When they have this responsibility and engagement with their meals, then many kids and teens will start to pay more attention to what they eat, which can help them stay healthy into adulthood.
- Parents should never force or pressure children to play certain sports. While it is important that kids get regular exercise, when children or teens feel forced into certain activities, then they can grow up resenting them. Forced exercise is no different. If you are worried about whether or not your child is getting enough exercise, then talk with them about your concerns. Tell them that you want to make sure they stay healthy, so it is important that they do something to get out and move. They might want to only join the same activities their friends are in or have an interest in something completely new. No matter what it is, parents should be encouraging and give their child the chance to choose for themselves what activity they wish to take part in.
- Encouraging a positive body image is another important thing for parents to do. While growing up and going through puberty, kids can often feel self-conscious about their bodies. Self-esteem issues can lead to stress as well as mental or emotional distress for some children, and these added factors are anything but healthy. Parents should encourage self-love and positive body images in their home by being supportive of their children’s style choices and providing a model of self-love by giving compliments to others and themselves.
Sometimes it can be a challenge to help kids understand just how important their health is. This is why Every Kid Healthy Week was founded, to provide support and education to schools and families on children’s health. When parents are mindful and take the right steps to promote wellness in their home, then kids and teens will pay attention and be set up with the cornerstones of good health.
Phoenix ER & Medical Hospital supports the nation-wide Every Kid Healthy campaign. For parents and schools looking to get involved, we encourage you to check out their website here: http://everykidhealthyweek.org/ . Our facility is open 24/7 with emergency medical care for all ages so that in the case of any accidents or illnesses, we can help your kids get back to their happy, healthy selves.
Come visit Phoenix ER & Medical Hospital at the SW Corner of Dobson & Queen Creek Rd in Chandler, AZ. 3050 S. Dobson Rd Chandler, 85248