Family health and children | 6 min read

Family health looks at children’s health and well-being in the context of their family unit. It not only considers children’s physical health but their emotional health, as well.

Family dynamics can have a positive (or negative) effect on a child’s health. Family patterns that seem most related to health include family closeness, flexible parenting, supportive home environment, and mind-stimulating activities. Children imitate their parents, so it’s essential to set a good example.

Children must lead a healthy lifestyle, including eating nutritious meals and getting plenty of exercise and adequate sleep every day. These positive health habits will help children grow strong and prevent health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and high blood pressure.

Follow these healthy habits for strong and happy children.

Habit 1: Healthy mealtimes

Make family mealtimes a special time together. Eating more meals together can make a big difference in your family’s health & happiness.

  • A healthy breakfast refuels the body and provides energy for the day.
  • Take time eating. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to tell the body that you are full.
  • Eat more vegetables and fresh fruits. Aim for a total of 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day.
  • Eat more whole grains. Examples include oats, brown rice, rye, and whole-wheat pasta.
  • Serve food in small portions.
  • Water is healthy. Soft drinks are unhealthy.
  • Help your children understand the nutritional value of including colourful foods in their regular diet.
  • As they grow, children’s appetites fluctuate. So, when they’re full, don’t push them to clean their plate. These behaviours can lead them to negative associations with food.
  • Do not put your child on a diet, especially without consulting your doctor and a registered dietitian nutritionist.

Health tip: Frequent bowel movements – You know your child is getting enough fibre when they produce bowel movements regularly. It also suggests a healthy immune system.

Habit 2: Be active

Make workouts a family affair to help children develop an abiding interest in health and fitness. Aim for 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

  • Walk as a family before or after meals.
  • Exercise that seems like play is a great way to encourage children to be active.
  • Be active in the home. For example, you can dust, vacuum, garden, or walk the dog.
  • Include activities, such as hiking or biking, when you go on vacation.

Health tip: Alert and lively – If your child is alert, this is an indication that nutrition is optimal and nutrients are absorbed properly.

Habit 3: Safe, responsible use of electronic devices

Limit TV, computer, and video game time to less than 2 hours per day.

  • Teach children to respect the boundaries you set around digital devices by taking breaks from technology yourself.
  • Show children how much you enjoy time away from your phone by engaging with them.
  • Show them how to use devices responsibly.
  • Ensure your child understands what’s appropriate for them to read, listen to, and watch.
  • Tell them to be cautious and never share personal information online.

Implementing these habits will help your family avoid the pitfalls of a digital world—like reduced sleep quality, unhealthy weight, and poor social skills.

Health tip: Correct posture– Correct posture suggests self-esteem as well as a sufficient diet, as it means there are enough nutrients to strengthen bones and the musculoskeletal system.

Habit 4: Support healthy sleep with bedtime routines

Adequate sleep has a positive physical and mental impact on children, including attention span, memory, and behaviour.

What’s the right amount of sleep? Recommended amounts vary by age group. Here is a breakdown:

Age (years) Sleep time (hours/day)
1-2
11-14
3-5
10-13
6-13
9-12
14-18
8-10
  • Create a bedtime routine to help them meet their daily sleep needs.
  • For young children, make the hour before bed loving and calm. Taking a bath, turning down the lights, and reading a story will help the transition from playtime to bedtime.
  • If you want your children to follow a regular bedtime schedule, you should also do so. They will then be more likely to follow a routine.

Health tip: Uninterrupted sleep– If your child is strong and seldom injured by tumbles, this suggests that child development is progressing smoothly.

Habit 5: Teach children to take care of their mental health

Children should understand they should take care of their minds and bodies. Feelings of worry, anxiety, sadness, and fear are all part of growing up. So, let your kids know they can come to you if something is troubling them.

  • Emotional wellness encourages children to feel positive about themselves and others.
  • They’ll also feel excited and interested in new adventures. Being mentally healthy helps children to get enough sleep and succeed in the classroom, too.
  • Help your children develop healthy self-esteem and a positive mindset by teaching them they are lovable, capable, and unique, no matter what challenges they encounter.

Health tip: Little ones love their independence. They feel empowered when a decision is theirs to make. So, give kids lots of opportunities to learn how to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Habit 6: Read every day

Developing strong reading skills is an essential component of your child’s success in school and at work later in life.

  • Reading helps build a child’s self-esteem, relationships with parents and others, and success in later life.
  • It’s recommended you make reading a part of your child’s playtime and bedtime routines.
  • Daily reading to children can begin as early as six months of age.
  • Choose books your children like so that they view reading as a treat rather than a chore.

Health tip: A secure learner – If your child learns quickly, it shows that he or she is getting enough nutrients for brain development.

Habit 7: Importance of early childhood dental visits

Early checkups prevent tooth decay and dental pain, leading to trouble concentrating and medical issues later in life. Youngsters with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence.

Health tip: Strong, clean teeth – Teeth that are solid and clean reveal that your child’s nutrition and natural dental hygiene are satisfactory.

Habit 8: Importance of medical visits

Doctor visits are essential for tracking your child’s growth and developmental milestones, discussing any concerns about your child’s health, and getting scheduled vaccinations.

Health tip: Physical growth– Your child’s weight should be average for her age and height, and if it is a desirable ratio, you will know that your child is on a healthy track and is getting enough nutrients. If your child is worryingly under or over expected weight, consult your doctor.

In summary

Teach your children the importance of healthy habits early in life until they become a seamless part of their daily life. Before you know it, your children will choose healthy options on their own that will support a lifetime of good health.

Sources:

https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2019/12/why-do-kids-need-to-go-to-the-doctor-so-often

https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-habits-mothers-should-teach-kids#stay-positive

https://www.nidokids.co.za/10-signs-of-healthy-growth-in-kids/

https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-habits-mothers-should-teach-kids#stay-positive

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