From brushing their teeth morning and night, to covering their mouth when they sneeze, there are a few healthy habits that you should be teaching your child from a young age.
As parents, we want the best for our children. And what better way to help them than by teaching them healthy habits that will benefit them for life? The following tips will help you do just that.
Blow their own nose
The sooner your child learns how to blow her own nose, the better. “Not clearing the nose can cause hearing problems in young children, due to a build-up of mucus. Learning how to blow can prevent ear infections and other diseases,” says Michelle Mazwell, health promotion officer for kids Health (Child Health Promotion Unit) at the children’s hospital in Sydney, Australia.
“Teach her to puff air out of her mouth first, similar to making fog on a window. Then practise blowing one nostril at a time,” says Michelle.
Practice sun safety
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, but it can be prevented. Michelle says this is best learned by example. Make wearing sunscreen and a hat an accepted practice for the whole family. Buy roll-on sunscreen for older children to keep in their school bags.
Childhood obesity is a big problem around the world, and experts say it’s due, in part, to kids spending too much time watching TV and playing computer games. Physical activity will improve your child’s fitness levels and protect her from a wide range of illnesses.
Make sure your child has plenty of outdoor toys like bikes, Frisbees, and cricket sets. A good way to get your children moving is to pick an activity that the family can do together.
Brush their teeth
This one is best learned early because bad dental habits can lead to more than a toothache. Oral hygiene is the best way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, both of which can cause a wide range of other health problems, including heart disease.
“Younger children need to be supervised, but from about age five to seven, they should learn how to brush and floss by themselves,” Michelle recommends. “Let them choose their own toothbrush. An electric toothbrush might motivate them too.”
Cover their mouth when they sneeze
We all know the importance of covering our noses and mouths when coughing and sneezing. “Colds, flu whooping cough and measles, as well as some serious bacterial infections like meningococcus, are spread by droplet infection,” says paediatrician Dr Darrell Price.
“It’s very important to teach your children to wash their hands after they’ve sneezed or coughed, because the easiest way to spread many of these diseases is by transferring germs from the face to the hands, to other surfaces, and to people,” says Darrell.
Never give up
Today’s children live in a competitive world, and often they’re under unreasonable pressure to perform. If a child learns to be the best she can be with the skills and qualities she has, she may avoid unnecessary disappointment.
“Give your child informative feedback rather than judgement,” advises child psychologist and parenting expert, Dr Louise Porter. “Don’t just praise her successes; congratulate her on her persistence and effort too.”
Skip junk food
Foods such as chips, sugary sweets, ice creams, and lollies – which were once reserved for party treats only – are now available to kids every day, often taking the place of healthier snacks. An alarming number of children are overweight or already obese, and more and more are being diagnosed with related conditions like Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes.
Make healthy food fast food by keeping a good supply of fresh fruit, chopped raw vegetables, homemade muffins, or other baked goods on hand. Don’t be mean with the treats, but avoid making them a regular thing.
Bath or shower every day
Kids need to bath or shower at least once a day, and wash their hands after using the toilet, before meals, and after playing. Keeping hands clean can prevent them from contracting gastroenteritis or respiratory diseases.
Make hand-washing part of her pre-dinner ritual. Keep fun soaps at convenient locations around the house, or wherever there’s a tap.