The need for healthy kids
Good health is the foundation of one’s livelihood. So why should children’s health be any different? All the research shows that healthy kids tend to be more successful, and not just in school. Healthy kids generally grow up to become healthy adults. They make more money, have better relationships, and are generally happier overall.
When it comes to raising healthy kids, sometimes it can seem like the odds are stacked against us. Anybody on a budget will tell you that healthier food is more expensive and the cost of health care is on the rise. Meanwhile, convenience foods are cheaper and more available than ever. Television, computers, and video games make kids lethargic, and advertisements associated with these forms of entertainment hypnotize them with unhealthy food choices.
The good news is that establishing good health early on may be easier than you think. Implementing lifelong healthy habits will greatly benefit your child’s health in the long-term and allow them to get the most out of their education.
Every parent wants to provide their kids with all the opportunities and advantages available. Still, it’s important to remember that on the road to parenting, there are no real shortcuts. Examples of recent parenting fads include “Baby TV”, programs and channels specifically designed for infants, and “baby sign language”, which is taught to children who are roughly six months old. While some of these fads might have merit, most are, at best, a creation of marketing; in some cases, these ‘health trends’ may actually be damaging to your child’s health.
What we know about parenting as a culture will always grow and evolve. For example, positive reinforcement and more involved fathers are two trends that will likely sustain because of their proven value in the child-rearing process. At the end of the day, giving your children a healthy space with nurturing relationships is still the most tried and true method we have.
What Can Parents Do to Help Their Kids Stay Healthy?
Nutrition is key
The relationship between good nutrition and improved academic performance is more pronounced than ever. Studies have shown a link between food additives and hyperactivity in young children. Kids who consume fast food more than three times a week have lower test scores than those who eat healthier meals. Those are just a few examples. In some ways, proper nutrition is just common sense. Sending your child off to school with a lunchbox filled with highly-processed snack cakes, chips, and sugary sodas will make for a jittery, non-focused kid; furthermore, he or she stands a greater chance of facing serious health problems in the future.
So what can be done? The easiest way a parent can facilitate change is to lead by example. If the entire family is eating healthy, the kids will typically follow along without an argument. It’s the grown-ups who buy the food and stock the kitchen. Creating an environment of nutritious food choices means the kids are bound to be successful. Luckily, there are tons of resources out there on this very subject. These articles from Gaiam Life and Parents feature some helpful tips for encouraging your kids to eat better.
Everyone knows physical activity is important for young kids, but did you know that it might also directly relate to their performance in school? According to a study conducted at the University of North Texas: “Cardiorespiratory fitness was the only factor that we consistently found to have an impact on both boys’ and girls’ grades on reading and math tests.” Getting the blood flowing to the brain may be just the ticket for kids who aren’t living up to their full academic potential.
The good news is that this stuff comes naturally to kids. They love to move around and jump and play. The government recommends kids get around 60 minutes of physical activity a day. However, kids spend up to 7.5 hours a day in front of the television or computer, and many need an extra incentive to get outside. Let’s Move! is a great resource for kids and parents hoping to incorporate more exercise into their daily lives.
Positive relationships make positive kids
More than anything, children need positive, nurturing relationships in their life to ensure that they will grow up to be positive, nurturing adults. Studies show that having good role models at home and the ability to make healthy friendships at school contribute to both better grades and higher academic performance.
Despite the influence of peers and media, the parental unit is still at the front lines when it comes to effective role modeling. In order to have a greater influence, parents need to make an effort to spend as much time with their kids as possible. Further, they should remember to always be a good example for their kids. As we all know, “Do as I say, not as I do” is rarely a good strategy. If you’re still feeling lost, this article from More4Kids includes strategies on how to model good behavior for children.
Research shows kids who know how to make friends on the playground will do better academically than their wallflower peers. Having friends at school teaches kids how to communicate more effectively, resolve conflicts, and make the most out of the school environment. When kids are happy at school, they’re bound to perform better in the classroom. This article from Education.com offers a ton of helpful articles on how to help your child make friends at school.
Do your best
Remember that no one is perfect; sometimes illness can’t be avoided, and that’s just a part of life. Kids, just like adults, will always have obstacles to overcome. The key is to understand the problem in order to develop healthy strategies to cope.
Raising healthy kids in these fast-paced, modern times can be a challenge, but what could be more important? Understanding the link between healthy kids and their overall academic performance is a great new discovery. With this new information, we can create a whole generation of kids living up to their academic potential.