Five Ways to Make Your Children Happy and Healthy
The smiles we receive from our children are the best reward! Here are five things we can do to see more of them.
As a mother the best part of my day is to see a bright, happy smile on my son’s faces. All parents feel the same about their children. However, sometimes it can be difficult to get that smile, especially if they are not feeling well. Having a happy healthy child is the goal for all loving parents. I have listed five different things we can do as parents in order to reach that goal.
1. Healthy eating
Children’s eating habits have become a hot topic of late because of the increased rate of child obesity. So, on top of our natural desire to feed our children right there seems to be additional pressure on us. Have no fear! Here are a few simple things we can do to ensure that they are getting what they need. These are all things my family does and they work well.
The first thing we need to do is make sure that our children eat often throughout the day. Children are always growing and developing and as a result they need a lot of nourishment. They should be eating three meals a day and two snacks. However, children’s appetites do very, especially between the ages of one and five. Some days they are not going to eat very much and other days they will eat more than you do. This is normal and nothing to worry about, as long as they are eating regularly. So do not force feed them or tell them they cannot have more to eat when they need it.
What they eat is even more important to their health. Not only do children grow constantly but their brains are developing as well. They need foods that nourish not only their bodies but their brains to ensure proper development. This means plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as protein. A daily chewable vitamin can fill any nutrition gaps in their diet and is recommended, especially if you have a picky eater.
Many kids are picky about their vegetable and fruit selection. Because every child is different there is really no right or wrong way to get children to eat their veggies. You need to experiment and do what works for your child. One suggestion is to make a little dessert every night and let them know that they can have it if they eat all their vegetables. This does not mean they need to eat everything on their plate because you do not want them to overeat but as long as they eat the fruits and veggies they will be getting most of the nutrients they need and they will learn good eating habits. Below are some other ideas for sneaking fruit and vegetables into their diets:
- Fruit and veggie smoothies. Because vegetables are bland in flavor, they only taste the fruit. There are a lot of recipes for these online.
- Spinach brownies. Sounds gross but they are delicious! Again the flavor of the chocolate covers the spinach. Your family will never know!
- Cut up broccoli florets and throw them into the taco meat on taco night. This works with chopped up spinach too. I do this all the time. My boys have no clue.
- Veggie tray with dip. I like to buy these once in a while. My children get so excited about dipping their food, they don't think about the fact that they are eating vegetables!
- Spice it up. Just as an example, steam some broccoli in butter and put a little garlic powder and salt on it. My youngest (who is the pickiest eater ever) gobbles up his veggies when I add some flavor to them.
You also want to watch their fluid intake. They need to drink enough to stay hydrated without drinking so much that they are not hungry when it is time to eat. Finding that balance can be a matter of trial and error because all kids are different but once you find it you’ll be able to get into a rhythm.
2. Time to go to the park!
Who doesn’t love playing outside with their kids on a nice day or sending them out to work off some energy. When parents send their children outside to play they are giving them an opportunity to explore, exercise, socialize and so much more!
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for all of us. It helps us absorb calcium for our bones, strengthens our immune system and even prevents depression by aiding in certain brain functions. The best way for our bodies to obtain vitamin D is from direct sun exposure and when our children are outside playing they are receiving all of those benefits. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that controls our moods. In general if we have more it we are happy and if we have less it is harder for us to be happy. One of the ways we can boost our serotonin levels is by being outside and exposed to sunlight.
The idea that fresh air is good for your is not a myth either. People who get a lot of fresh air usually look and feel healthier and more energized!
Also, the more children play outside the more of an opportunity they have to interact with other children and develop some important social skills.
3. Nap Time.
Sleep is important for all of us. It helps our brains function properly, aids us in losing weight and improves our immune system. All of these benefits also apply to our children but it has an even bigger impact on their overall health because they are growing and developing at an accelerated rate.
Naps should be part of your children’s regular routine during the day. Infants sleep most of the day but they sleep less and less as they get older. However, until they are about four years old they should still be taking a nap every day. This helps with their rapid brain development. Scientists have found that children learn faster if they take regular naps because sleep allows the memory center of their brains to develop and “reload”, preparing them to learn more. Children also sleep better at night if they nap during the day (if the nap isn’t too long). They will also be less crabby with a regular nap because sleep gives them the rest they need to keep them from feeling overwhelmed.
Something to be mindful of is, after the age of four, most children do not need a daily nap. If they are tired they should not be denied the necessary rest but they probably should not sleep longer than an hour and a half. Any longer and they may have trouble sleeping at night. If your little ones skip a nap don’t fret, just make sure they go to bed a little earlier than normal.
Going to sleep at the same time every night is very good for them as well. It gives them a routine to follow which helps them feel more secure. They also sleep better because their internal clock says; “Time to sleep” (by the way this is true for adults too.)
If you are do not practice a sleep routine now it may be difficult to get it going but it will be worth it. Your child will behave better, learn faster and be happier and healthier!
4.Help them help you!
One of the most valuable lessons we can teach our children is the importance of work. Let’s face it, no matter what we choose to do, we need to work hard in order to be successful. However, hard work is more than just a means to an end; we feel more satisfied when we are working hard. It does not matter whether or not we work outside or inside the home. We feel better about ourselves and more optimistic if we put in good, honest work. Our children need to feel that satisfaction regularly and from an early age, so that it may become a habit in their lives. There are many fun ways we can teach this concept and most of these are pretty easy.
I have a three year old son and there are a few things he does with me every day so that he can learn about work and why it is important. One of the things I have him help me with is the chores in the house. Now I know he is only three but I don’t have him scrubbing toilets or anything. I ask him instead to do little things that I know he can do. One of them is to help me put the dishes away after they are washed. I give him his dishes and ask him to put them away (I keep them in a drawer near the floor so that he can reach it). I do not pick on him if they are not put away in perfect order because they are his dishes and he feels like he has helped me. I also have him help with the laundry by putting the dirty clothes from the basket into the washing machine. Then, when the load is done, I hand him the clothes from the washer and he throws them into the dryer. He thinks its fun and always wants to help. He also puts his clothes away once they are folded (with my help of course).
If you make it part of their daily routine as well as fun, children won’t think about the fact that they are learning to work. Part of my son’s bedtime routine is cleaning up his playroom. I tell him what to do in order to clean it up and then I help him. We even sing a song about cleaning up to make it more fun. Then, when the room is clean I say to him, “Look what you did! It looks wonderful! Good job!” Encouraging them once they have completed the task is great for their self-esteem and it gives them a desire to do it again! My son is also an important helper in caring for his baby brother. I have him bring pillows or blankets when I need them or sometimes a pacifier or toy. He also loves to help feed him and he even talks to the baby while I change his diaper to make sure he does not rollover. He loves helping with those things because he is doing things that he sees mommy do. He also has fun, learns new skills, gets tons of praise and he gets along really well with his new brother! Those two are attached at the hip!
There are so many ways that children can help out at home and there are so many ways to make it fun for them! Start thinking about little things they can help with. Show them how to do it and then praise them for doing it, even if they do not do it perfectly. So many doors open as they learn the fun and blessings that come from hard work.
5.“Love, love, love!”
There are so many things we can do to make sure or children are happy and healthy. We can give them play dates, take them to the park, feed them all the best foods, ensure they get the rest they need; the list goes on and on. However, nothing will be of greater value and importance than love!
We need to remember that love is not giving them everything they want but making sure they have what they need. We show our children just as much love when we say no as when we say yes. Love is making sure they are safe and making sure they FEEL safe. They need to know that we are here for them, not just in our words but in our actions. Give your children hugs and kisses and spend quality time with them.
One of the things that has helped my older son feel more loved is having dinner as a family every night. We turn off the TV, the computer, the phones and we eat at the table. Then I ask him about his day. I ask if he liked the games we played. I ask him if he feels he had a good day and what he would like to do tomorrow. During this time I focus on him and he feels loved and cared for. It is the little moments like those that we as parents should take advantage of. These things will show our love greater than any big gesture we could perform.
Patience is another way to show our love. We need to remember that a lot of times, when a child does something wrong, it is not to spite us. They do it because they do not understand that it is wrong. We need to calmly explain why it is not right and show them what the right behavior is. They may not get it the first time but eventually they will be old enough to understand.
There is a lot that we can do to show love to our children. Each child is so unique that you will need to find what works for each of your individual children. It is so worth it as we are rewarded with their smiling faces.
The five suggestions I have listed here are important but they are not the only things we can do in order to ensure the health and happiness of our children. I feel that these make a great foundation. The most important thing to do is make sure that we meet our children’s individual needs. When they see us doing that, they will feel our love and concern for them. The greatest happiness any of us experiences is the knowledge that we are loved.
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