Part 2: Develop healthy lifestyles in children
Parents know in their heart when their child has a weight problem. They rationalize it by saying ‘it’s our family genetics’ or ‘they are perfect for playing football’. The truth is: if parents wait until their child is diagnosed, it is too late to reverse many chronic health conditions.
Healthy lifestyles start in infancy. We teach children to wash their hands, brush their teeth, take a bath and so many other important skills. Parents need to teach good lifestyle skills through puberty.
Have you ever had a two-year-old who was so excited (or hurt) that they could not speak clearly? Did you tell them to calm down but not tell them how? By telling them to take a deep breath, you are teaching them at a young age an effective coping skill. Taking several deep breaths can help reduce anxiety at any age.
Coping skills are not taught in school. When children are diagnosed with anxiety, they are often given medications. They can easily become dependent on these medications for the rest of their life. Parents need to teach a variety of coping skills to their children.
Do you teach your child how to slow down before going to sleep? Do you remove the video games, phones and other blue lights from their bedroom? Getting a good night’s sleep is important for good health.
Parents have many responsibilities
Parents have the responsibility to teach their children many good lifestyle skills. What are you teaching your children? What are you teaching by the examples in your life?
Parents can influence the future of their children in many ways. Through encouraging good study habits and rewarding good grades, we teach children the value of education. Encouraging our children to participate in sports, we teach children good sportsmanship and leadership skills. By doing things together we teach the value of family relationships. Parents provide environmental factors for successful young adults.
But did you know that the success of young adults is often influenced by their overall health? Eighty percent of overweight children continue to gain weight and are classified as obese in adulthood. Employers know obesity affects the overall health of the individual. Employers want to protect their bottom line limiting the number of employees with health problems. This will limit the opportunities that are available to them.
Take care of small problems before they become big problems
As adults, you know it is easier to lose 10 pounds than to lose 100 pounds. Weight problems slowly build up through poor choices. You are not suddenly 100 pounds overweight. Most people gain a little weight every year. That weight gain is normal in children. We want to believe kids will grow into their weight as they gain height. But it becomes really difficult for parents to know what is normal. That is why it is important to use the CDC’s growth charts. https://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/index.htm
Your children will understand better when they see the changes in the graphs. Talk to them about changes you can make together. Their future may depend on it.
For more information about small changes you can make and how to impact your children’s future, see blog post Part 3, which will talk about creating your family’s environment.
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