5 Tips on Teaching Your Kids about Wellness and Body Health
Most of us know how important our health is to enjoying our lives. We know that there is no quicker way to ruin a vacation than by getting sick. We know that we need to eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise if we want to maintain our youthful vigor. And we know that staying healthy is something that only we have control over – it is not something we can ask someone to do for us. Health can’t be delegated; it simply needs to be practiced. Kids, though, don’t know all of these things until we teach them about them.
They know that cookies taste good, but not that they are full of unhealthy sugars and processed foods. They know that playing outside is fun, but they likely don’t realize the physical exercise is good for their health, too. Our kids can only know what we teach them, so if we want our children to know about wellness and body health, then we need to teach them about these values ourselves. Below are some ways to teach your kids about wellness and body health. Since every child is different, pick and choose what makes sense for your son or daughter, depending on his or her age and maturity level.
TIP #1 – Take a positive approach to health. A lot of the time parents think that they need to warn their children about the dangers lurking behind every corner to get them to pay attention and guard themselves against sickness. But this is often the wrong tact to take.
In his book What Do you Really Want For Your Children, Dr. Wayne Dyer says that, “the more children learn from you to rid themselves of attitudes which foster sickness, the more you are helping them to enjoy life each day. They will actually live longer and more productive lives if they learn wellness as very young children.”
So don’t say “if you don’t put on a jacket, you will catch a cold.” Instead, say something like “This jacket will keep you warm and make your day more fun!”
TIP #2 – Use anatomical models when possible. It can be much easier to teach your kids about their bodies if you have something to show them and explain it with. A regular doll can work well, but there are also better options on the market. Remember the old game “Operation”? That is a great game for teaching your children about body parts, even if it is more than thirty years old already.
TIP #3 – Set a good example. The best way to teach your kids about being healthy is to set a good example. Make sure that you are eating healthy food – don’t deny something to your child that you then indulge in yourself. Explain to your son or daughter what you are doing. For example, you can say, “Mommy is going to the gym because exercise keeps her healthy. You don’t go to the gym because you play outside instead.” How much you explain depends on your child’s age and level of interest.
According to Dr. Dyer, “It means simply being as healthy as you possibly can be, and being determined not to allow your wonderful body, the place where your mind currently resides, to deteriorate unnecessarily.”
TIP #4 – Make playing outside a regular part of your child’s life. A lot of kids forget about the joys of sports and jungle gyms because they get sidetracked by video games, television, and movies. Instead of taking these things away from your kids, make playing outside more fun so that they naturally choose it over the indoor activities. Start taking them to the park, or go see a baseball game to inspire your son or daughter to play sports himself/herself. Install your own jungle gym if you have the space.
TIP #5 – Have fun! No matter how healthy the diet you feed your child, how much exercise that child gets, or how much that kid knows about his or her own body, there is nothing more important than your child’s mental health. Make sure you are engaging your son or daughter mentally and showing them how to have fun.
Dr. Dyer says that, “when children laugh they are actually releasing into their bloodstream chemicals which are necessary for the prevention and cure of disease.”
Laughter truly is the best medicine, especially for children. So make life fun and every once in awhile, let your son or daughter have that cookie!