Believe it or not, you impart a legacy of health for your kids that goes well beyond the genes that you provide them. You also pass along health beliefs and model medical options. Here are some ideas that will set your children up on a path towards a healthy life. 1. Instill a sense of wonder about your own body. Many adults fear and emphasise their bodies.
They think that the body is delicate, and illness is right around the corner. The myth you will catch a cold if you go outside without a jacket persists. The truth is your body is the most miraculous mechanical system on Earth. Cuts heal without one idea or activity on your part. Your immune system is your personal homeland security system, protecting you from viral and bacterial terrorists. Yes, illness is part of the human condition. And we have strong treatments that increase a body’s own ability to heal.
- Look at your body’s ability to combat illnesses, like the common cold. This alone provides concrete evidence of your body’s resiliency. Comment on your child’s body. Remind your child how good it is to have eyes and hearts and kidneys which work so well.
- Become a student of your body with your child. Your children are going to come to you with questions about how their bodies work. It can be embarrassing for both you and your child if you don’t have the answers. This distress can teach kids that they ought to avoid questions about how their bodies work, which may, in part, explain why parents themselves are hesitant to ask physicians embarrassing questions. Remember, nobody has all of the answers. That’s why your doctor participates in continuing medical education. Your little one can remind you of the joy of discovery. Together you can look for answers. I said to my son that bones make blood and he asked, “What about animals with exoskeletons?” I said, “What an interesting question. Let’s get online and see what we can find out.” Have a child-appropriate book about the body accessible and find out and use anatomically correct words. Maybe you can have a family contest to think of the coolest medical term.
- Teach your kids to follow their bodies. Often it feels like adults are rewarded for dismissing or beating the signals from their bodies. The “hero” who comes to work with the influenza or the mother who dismisses her need for sleep or food. Health is preserved when you know the signs that indicate your body is out of balance and react in a timely manner once your body indicates it needs something. Help your children identify when they are cold or tired or hungry. It is possible to say to a baby, “You look hot, so I’m taking off the blanket.” Give your kid some expertise regulating his external surroundings like taking off and on sweaters. Educate your kids that pain is there to keep them secure.
- Model healthy eating habits. Childhood obesity is a growing issue. Talk to your children about good food choices and bad ones. Encourage them to ask themselves,”what type of food is my body hungry for right now?’ And”Am I complete? It’s health food for the soul!