Wee Choose a Fitter Future
Getting kids to eat healthy and exercise can be a challenge. A healthier lifestyle that is started when our tiny tots are young make it a wee bit easier, but it's never too late to teach a child of any age the valuable health tools and lifestyle techniques that will carry them into adulthood.
It's important to include the Mind, Body, and Spirit in a child's daily fitness regimen, as the complete package will bring a healthier, more balanced well-being into your child's life.
Let's take a look at the Mind exercises. These techniques are easy, and most importantly- effective.
- Deep Breathing This is a simple exercise that can be taught to a child of any age. It turns out, it is actually possible to breathe "incorrectly"! That's right, improper breathing can produce tension, exhaustion and vocal strain; interfere with athletic activity, and encourage aches and illnesses. However, breathing correctly can melt away stress and tension, improve vital "life force" energy, as well as relax. Deep breathing is also encouraged as an outlet for when a child is experiencing frustration. Kids are less likely to engage in temper-tantrums if they practice deep breathing regularly.
- Meditation Following the deep breathing technique, but taking it one step further, meditation is a wonderful way to enhance a child's mental clarity. The end of the day is a wonderful time to practice this, as it can be used as a means to calm down, relax, and find solutions to problems. Whether it is practiced for 2 minutes, 5 minutes, or 30 minutes, meditation can be a way that your child can escape to their own world, where they can imagine pleasant surroundings that appeal to their senses of sight, smell, and sound. They may use this time to experience joy and gratitude, and think of all the things they are greatful for, which is a key to happiness.
- Visualization Like meditation, visualization allows a child to experience pleasant images. It is a wonderful technique that can enhance a child's skills, abilities, and talents, as well as aid in problem-solving skills. For example, if your child has a test coming up in school that is on a difficult subject they've been studying hard for, they can visualize themselves getting an "A" on the test and being rewarded for their hard work. Visualizing accomplishment in an athletic event, or picturing themselves doing well and achieving goals will actually help manifest those positive actions; and the younger they learn this, the easier it will be for them to utilize this tool as an adult.
Here are some tips for the Body:
- Yoga Yoga for kids is actually becoming quite popular. Teaching yoga to kids helps them to develop better body awareness, self-control, flexibility and coordination. It is also a stress-reducer, and will help them stay balanced through-out the day.
- Pilates Especially for young children, the key here is to keep it FUN. Try naming different poses after animals, like the "elephant trunk" or the "doggy pose". They will stay engaged and reap the benefits of strength building and flexibility. The nice thing about pilates (and yoga) is that they can be done right at home, at any time.
- Swimming Swimming has wonderful benefits for children. Water therapy has been used for years because of it's minimal impact on the joints. The benefits of swimming include strength training, muscles toning, and building lung capacity; plus it's a whole lot of fun! Be careful, however, as chlorinated pools can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Thus, a well-ventilated pool environment or natural water source is recommended.
Here are some easy, simple ways to for children to connect with Spirit:
- Animal Interaction Animals are great teachers of love and compassion. Studies show that cancer patients receiving radiation therapy responded better and were better able to cope after regular pet-therapy visits. Animals bring joy and have the ability to ease anxiety, relieve stress, and enhance our mood. Owning a pet in which the child takes part in care-taking not only instills responsibility, but also enables the child to connect with the animal, in which they learn compassion and empathy for all beings.
- Laughter Laughter is good for the heart, heals the soul, and releases natural, "feel-good" chemicals in the body. It helps connect people and enhance the bonding experience. Laughter is crucial to living a balanced, healthy life; as when we take ourselves too seriously, it can lead to minor let-downs or major disappointments. Laughing keeps problems in perspective, and helps to make a child's world a more pleasant place.
- Church or Spiritual Groups: Age-appropriate classes or learning sessions that follow the religion or spirituality you take part in will educate your child on their quest for higher knowledge. Kids have tons of questions, and this is a great opportunity to expose the beliefs and values you stand by.
Here are a few more scenarios you might find that can help instill health and fitness into your child's life:
The Child Who Hates Vegetables The flavor of broccoli may not be as appealing as ice cream, so here are a few tricks to get those veggies in:
- First, it's important for kids to understand that our bodies need nutrition. Eating vegetables because "I said so" doesn't really get the message through.. We need to teach kids about vitamins, nutrition, and why we need them in the first place.
- Second, vegetables don't have to taste bad. There are many creative ways to enhance the flavor and make them delicious so your child will actually be asking for more. Try melting some cheese or adding flavoring, such as garlic or onion powder. Honey is a great alternative, as it is sweet and adds a contrasting flavor... Yummy!
- Engage them in the cooking process. Let them help place the potatoes you sliced onto the cooking pan, or add the sauce into the skillet. They are more likely to enjoy the meal if they have participated in the preparation.
- If all else fails, get a Super-Hero to come to dinner and eat veggies! That's right, it may sound wacky, but it works for potty-training. If Super-Man comes to dinner and raves about the vegetables, chances are your child will think veggies are pretty cool. Depending on your child's age, there is always someone they look up to.
The Child Who Won't Exercise This can be tough, especially if your child is older. However, where there's a will, there's a way.
- Participate in the exercise. Take a walk or ride a bike with your child; throw the ball around in the yard or park. The time you spend with them is crucial, and the memories will last a lifetime.
- Invite friends over to play outside. It's not fun having to exercise, so turn it into a game! Play tag or red rover.
- Offer a reward. If you really can't get your kid to move, try encouraging them with healthy treats or quality time with you.
May you and your family have much happiness, health, and love.