As a pediatrician in my 20th year of practice, I am concerned about how our children and parents seek the strength and skills required to survive. Vitality. Here is a checklist of basic important tips for a healthy child to live and grow, a Vitality list.
Diet. Let’s start with food. Foods from the earth, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, and dairy are the best foods to eat to sustain good health. Many children only eat “earth foods,” because they have no processed food exposure. If you live in an area with large amounts of boxed food, challenge yourself to reduce box cooking and eat a variety of foods that have not been processed in a factory.
Clothing and Shelter. This may seem obvious to most, but I feel obliged to include this basic necessity on the Vitality List. All children should have a roof over their heads and comfortable clothes/shoes to wear while carrying on day-to-day activities.
Exercise. Studies have shown that children who get regular exercise think more clearly, perform better in school, and are healthier overall. Think of ways to increase your children’s out door time and exercise, such as walking your child to school. In 2012, as part of the annual Danish Science Week, a Danish study concluded that children who walk to school concentrate better. Is this enough to get your little one exercising outdoors?
Healthcare. Children are entitled to have access to health care. It is ideal to find a Health Care Provider who knows your child well to perform check ups and see him for sick visits. Vaccines are a must, since they prevent the acquisition and spread of potentially fatal illness.
Sleep. Numerous studies worldwide have shown the health effects of sleep deprivation, which include poor childhood growth, increased emotional stress, poor academic performance, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and overall shorter life span. Bedtime rituals are important for children. Activity in the evening should be limited to allow the body to relax before sleep. A 2013 study from the U.S. National Sleep Foundation found that of the six countries studied (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Mexico, and Japan), Mexican Nationals get the most sleep during the week. We could learn a thing or two from the people of Mexico about the importance of sleep. Mexican culture promotes a good night’s sleep, and an afternoon siesta (nap time) is commonly observed.
Emotional Health. Often, getting food on the table, the children to school, daily tasks, and employment details are enough to cause one to overlook a child in need of emotional support. Children will actually fail to grow and lack overall contentedness if their emotional needs are not met. The key to achieving overall good psychological health for the family is to nurture, set limits, and stay connected. One example of nurturing is listening closely and engaging with our children. Loving limits should be set, but an overly strict environment can promote poor emotional health. Our children learn and thrive through engaging play. One of my favorite books, Playful Parenting, by Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD details the importance of entering a child’s world through play.