According to scientists, the first ten years of our lives is the window of opportunity. It is therefore crucial that everything done at this time is geared towards nurturing a healthy and positive development in your child.
As a parent, you would probably follow your instincts when it comes to which activities you feel would contribute towards such an outcome.
So what are the common items that normally make up this list? Let’s explore some, to see if we are on the right track:
Reduce TV time
You may probably have questions about whether TV is good/bad for your child, which sort of shows should your child be watching and for how long etc
In general, too much of anything isn’t advisable and the TV would be no exception. The TV does have its advantages:
Learn about new things, ideas, cultures etc
Entertainment (make sure the content is appropriate for your child)
But it also has its disadvantages:
Limits physical activities
Affects social development
Impacts brain development & behaviour: Research has shown that watching too much TV could alter the brain structure.
Consumerism: Children are exposed to brands and products they don’t really need, then they try to persuade their parents to buy these things for them because they are convinced that they are necessary.
As a parent, you’d need to find a balance – after all, TV is here to stay. It’s not going anywhere, so we have to learn to live with it:
Limit TV time
Make it a family affair
Choose the right shows (content, duration, tone and pace....nothing too energy-packed before bed!)
Other healthy tips would be:
A few minutes of daily exercise, which could be in the form of a run around in the garden or park. Let them experiment with different activities until they find something they really enjoy. Studies have also shown that 10-20mins of exercise before a test in 9-10year olds, can significantly improve test results.
Regular bedtime routines are also quite beneficial to a child’s well being. Ideally, about 11 hours of sleep for preschool children and at least 10 hours sleep for children up to 12 years old.
Choose rewards that are truly rewarding. Find more creative ways to celebrate good behaviour, instead of more TV / video game / computer time and snacks.
Making healthy food choices will certainly go a long way in impacting on your child’s general well being. Their taste will vary through the years but you as the parent will definitely have an impact on what your child consumes. Most parents will normally cook what they like to eat themselves, so it is crucial (from that perspective) that we as parents eat the right things and try to plan a more varied diet in the home, so the children are able to experience a wider variety of choices.
There is no reason why they can’t help with picking out the items in the shop – under your guidance of course!
Discuss healthy options and the reasons why, so they can understand the benefits and impact of these food choices. This could be taken a step further by getting your child to grow some of food items (veggies in particular). This can be done in pot or on a patch, in the garden – makes no difference, as it it is the experience that counts and we know that there is no better feeling than reaping (or eating..in this case) the fruits of your labour.
Plan family activities. These could be in the form of outings, games, karaoke / movie nights or even cooking / eating family meals. Family activities are not just for fun; they strengthen the bond between family members, they build self-esteem in children, they build happy memories and help parents and children reconnect.
Be the best role model you can be. This does not mean having to be perfect all the time, but your child will notice your efforts in all you do and the choices you make, so try to be that source of inspiration and motivation.
In all of the above, keep things positive and always praise your child’s efforts. Let them know what they are doing right and offer suggestions on how other areas could be better.
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