It can sometimes seem challenging to advise strong-willed children to live a healthy life especially when you want to provide them with integrative healthcare. Conscious children these days are even more insistent on doing what they want when they want, and at times, it is difficult to convince them to do anything they do not want to do. So here are some tips to help them start off on the right track towards a healthy life.
- Sleep. Sleep is critical for mommy and baby alike. If the family is not getting enough sleep, the tendency to be stressed and overburdened go up indefinitely. Children need a schedule to sleep by so I often encourage parents to have a designated time every day that they go to bed, take naps, and wake up. The other thing is that if children get up at a designated time, you can encourage them to relax in their bed, relax in your bed, or room until everyone int he family is ready to get up. I often discourage moms from jumping up tot he demands of their children as they are sending a message that the child controls the show. This may mean allowing the child to cry until they learn how to self-soothe, not excess but a healthy balanced approach. I would not allow longer than 15 mins. I have also instructed mothers of older children to set up some breakfast snacks in a drawer that the children know where they are to go to the kitchen and help themselves while you are waking up and doing your morning routine.
- Feelings. This one is really important and many integrative healthcare providers miss the importance of teaching children about heir emotions. Children have feelings, big ones, and they need to have a safe space to feel them and understand them. Encouraging your children to express themselves while also giving them the language to connect their feelings with communication is key. As an example, if a child is visibly angry saying something like I understand that you are angry but throwing toys, is not how we express anger. Let’s practice some breathing to manage our anger. There should also be steadfast consequences for their unhealthy expression of emotions to make sure they understand that there is a healthy and unhealthy way to express their emotions.
- Communication is key for children. They must feel safe to express themselves and say what they need to say for them. Shutting children down, not allowing them to speak, or not listening can all turn into strong emotions of anger, rage, and resentment as time goes on in their lives. In the beginning, even if they are, it is important to acknowledge that what they are saying is important. This will build and encourage self-esteem for them for years to come in life.
- Don’t ban junk food. This may also be counter-intuitive to an integrative healthcare provider. I know this one is tempting, but it is not healthy for children. I into this trap, turning my daughter into a vegan at a young age. We never had things like pizza, pasta, pancakes, etc. and so when he was exposed to those things, it was like she was making up for lost time. So far as a teenager I have been neutral about her eating habits, yet have taught her the differences between healthy and unhealthy eating so at least she knows that she is making a choice to eat unhealthy rather than me forcing her to be healthy with her food choices. Ultimately, education will come through at a later time in her life.
- Offer healthy food. As the opportunity arises, offer healthy food options. If they say, they would like a snack, offer apples instead of goldfish or offer water instead of juice. Even if they do not always choose those options, they know they are available and sometimes the sound of that may be more appealing to them.
- Model healthy behavior. This one may be a no brainer, but I felt the need to mention it. If you are not exhibiting healthy behavior yourself, it is very difficult to instruct your children to eat healthily. Being active with them
- Be active with them. This goes into the last one of modeling healthy behavior. As children, they pick up everything around them, and this tends to shape their world as they get older. As a child, my father took me hiking and climbing a lot. As an adult, I still love doing these things, and in fact, it elicits positive memories from my childhood. Other things, such as practicing yoga with them, meditation, etc. can also be very helpful in their development.
Children these days are bombarded with many unhealthy things from television to candy to the latest gadget and craze it can be challenging to lead them in a healthy direction. However, if you are consistent over time, they will learn to not only like taking care of themselves but love it, especially once they begin to make the connection with how they feel and how they take care of themselves. This is an exciting time to develop this type of consciousness to be able to understand and uncover these aspects of our lives that have often been neglected conversations in previous generations. An intuitive integrative healthcare provider may be your choice to help your family get on track with your healthcare. Please read more about the role of integrative healthcare here:https://nccih.nih.gov/health/integrative-health#hed2. As we let go of the need to survive life and step deeper into a thriving, we appreciate the need to build health rather than, manage the disease. For more ideas check out: http://www.holisticfamilypracticeva.com/events/back-to-school-back-to-health/