Strategies for raising happy, healthy children
By WENDY M. HENRICHS
Board Certified Chiropractic Pediatrician and Nutrition Counselor
Children are the future of our world and a product of us as parents, grandparents, teachers and our society in general. They fascinate me, and I am in awe of the potential that lies within each little body. That is one of the reasons why I became a Chiropractic Pediatrician. Creating healthy, happy children is part physical and part mental/emotional. These strategies to improve the physical and mental/emotional wellbeing of our children are some that I put at the top of my list.
Breakfast and Good Nutrition – I have written numerous articles on strategies to improve your nutrition. Good nutrition is important for all of us, but especially children. Their bodies are growing and developing. Clean eating provides high octane fuel for our children’s growth and development. Start every day with breakfast including protein and fruit or veggies to jumpstart your child’s brain.
Protein not only provides the building blocks for muscles and tissues, but also helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Also give kids protein with every meal and snack. See my Back to School Basics article for some easy breakfast ideas. Include vegetables or a fruit with every meal or snack along with the protein. They are full of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Organic produce is higher in nutrients and lower in toxins so choose that whenever you can. If your child is not eating cold water fish daily such as sardines, salmon, herring, tuna, etc., they should take an omega 3 supplement. Omega 3 fatty acids are the building blocks of every cell membrane in your body and they make up more than 60 percent of your brain and nervous system. Good nutrition leads to children that feel good and are happier, just like adults.
If my kids want “junk food,” our rule is they need to have a piece of fruit or a cup of raw veggies and some protein first. Then, if they still want a less than healthy choice they can have some. We should be a positive example and not expect our children to skip the soda and chips if that is what we are consuming. We strive for clean eating in our house 80 percent of the time.
Movement – Our bodies were designed to be moving. Regular physical activity helps to improve concentration, attention, retention of information and overall attitude. When I was a child I wanted to go out and play, I didn’t have to be told. The technology that we have been blessed with comes at a cost. The sedentary lifestyle that is reinforced by using the different technologies hinders a child’s normal development. Technology usage has created postural issues coined as “text neck.” I see children with hunched postures similar to late stage osteoporosis. Think about how that affects a child’s spinal development and growth, not to mention the rise in childhood obesity. With technology comes responsibility. I advise everyday movement and daily or weekly limits on technology usage that vary depending on a child’s age.
Respect – Respect children as you want to be respected. Think about the good feeling that comes from knowing you have the respect of someone you love. The same is true for our children. When a child wants to talk to you, put your phone or other technology down. Make eye contact with them. Respect your child’s opinions even when you disagree. This will lay the groundwork for mutual respect as your child matures into adulthood.
Listen – Listen and pause before you speak. Sometimes kids, just like adults, just want to be heard and know that you care to listen to whatever it is they are saying. I learn so much from listening to children. When children are listened to and feel they are heard, they feel respected and loved. Taking the time to listen to our children will create the positive example for them to do the same with us.
Positive Reinforcement – Focus on the behaviors that you want. I believe in the 80/20 rule. Spend 80 percent of your time giving positive reinforcement to behaviors, etc. that you want or enjoy. You will always get more of what you focus on. This is true not just with our children, but in all the different relationships we have in life.
When children get healthy input physically and emotionally, they will more likely grow into incredible adults. Nurture our children with great nutrition, lots of movement, respect, and loving guidance and our world will be a better place in the years to come. Use some, or all these strategies to help raise happy and healthy children.
Dr. Wendy Henrichs is a board certified chiropractor and nutrition counselor at Timber Land Chiropractic in Rhinelander. For a complimentary chiropractic, nutrition or lifestyle counseling consultation, visit TimberlandChiropractic.com, Facebook, or call 715-362-4852.