Busy parents are bombarded by media messages about the importance of childhood health and nutrition. We’re also fed a steady diet of smoke and mirrors about what they should do, eat and wear – and how we should or shouldn’t parent them.
Nestle has this week issued a commonsense reminder to moms and dads about what works – and I like it.
We all need a gentle reminder that getting back to basics is the best way to bring up a child.
These seven daily habits make sense. Start using them today – small steps start big journeys.
1. Eat right
Encourage your child to enjoy a wide variety of foods in moderation. Variety helps to balance diet as well as stimulate appetite. Avoid meal skipping, especially breakfast, because this first meal of the day replenishes your child’s body with energy and nutrients and helps improve school performance.
Help your child establish healthy food preferences by curbing a sweet tooth and love for fried foods. Instead, introduce healthy foods like whole grains.
Filling your child’s daily menu with different types of fruits and vegetables provides essential vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients and fibre. Fibre prevents constipation and helps your child maintain a healthy body weight.
Lastly, grab this opportunity to educate your child on food and nutrition to encourage wise food purchases at the school canteen, tuckshop or shops.
(Beth’s note – better yet, get the school to stock ONLY healthy produce, concentrating on wholegrain breads and rolls, NO pastries – or restricting those to, say, a Friday – and piling salad and mozzarella cheese on rolls, instead of processed meats and tomato sauce. Another top tip : get the school to sponsor AN APPLE A DAY. Why not?)
2. Drink up
Children often forget to drink. Due to their small body size, they are more susceptible to dehydration, which can cause dizziness, fatigue and constipation. Water is also needed to boost your child’s immunity and for numerous body processes. Remind your child to drink small amounts of water regularly. Don’t wait to get thirsty before hydrating, especially when the weather is hot and humid.
(Beth’s note : if your little one would rather flake out than drink water, start off slowly by diluting juice with water, or offering water with ice-cubes made from his or her favourite juice.)
3. Get moving
About 76% of our primary school children spend their leisure time indulging in sedentary activities such as watching television and playing computer games. This trend is worrying as inactivity breeds obesity. Urge your child to take up vigorous activities like walking, swimming, cycling or playing outdoor games. Let him exercise 20 minutes daily with a fun and moderate-intensity activity.
(Beth’s note : invest in a trampoline! They love it!)
4. Arrest stress
Children can also be victims of stress. These youngsters get stressed out by their heavy schoolwork, exams, high parental expectations and trying to win friends. Children also absorb stress from their environment. For example, they get upset when their parents fight, when financial problems looms at home, when siblings bully them and when their environment is not peaceful. Stress can be detrimental to your child’s physical, mental and emotional health. So, learn various ways to deal with stress. Help your child find a suitable stress outlet, since children lack the experience and maturity to deal with it on their own.
5. Sleep tight
If the day demands so much of your child, then the night should give respite. Children should recharge the body and refresh the mind with sufficient sleep through the night. Tired children find it hard to concentrate at school and they tend to be careless and cranky. Furthermore, sleep promotes growth as growth hormones are released during sleep. Your primary school child should aim for at least 8 hours of peaceful slumber every night. Younger children need even more.
6. Stimulate the mind
The mind is the seat of creative thinking. Bright children have fluid minds that give birth to rich ideas. So, allow your child to think freely. Encourage self-expression through music, writing, art, public speaking or merely sharing daydreams and thoughts with you. Involve them in the myriad of daily events that and sharpen dexterity. Every situation poses an opportunity for learning.
7. Keeping clean
Cleanliness and good health go hand in hand. Hence, a reasonable level of cleanliness and personal hygiene is recommended for your child. Children are able to understand the concept of ‘cause and effect’ at this stage. So, explain to him how infectious diseases are caused and the detrimental effects they have on health. Then teach your child the basic rules of cleanliness like washing hands before eating, after visiting the washroom and after playing with pets.
Source : FD Media & Investor Relations
On behalf of : Nestlé South Africa