As April comes to a close, National Every Kid Healthy Week begins. From April 22-26, schools everywhere are celebrating all the ways kids can stay healthy with what they eat and their favorite sports. Parents, though, might be looking for some extra guidance on how they can encourage personal wellness in their children and support a healthy family.
In honor of Every Kid Healthy Week, Texarkana Emergency Center wants to talk about 3 important aspects of childhood health and wellness. These aspects are things that parents can pay attention to and integrate into their families to encourage a healthy and happy home for everyone.
Helping Your Kids Manage Stress
Sometimes it is hard to recognize stress in children, especially in families with younger kids. Teenagers might be able to express when they’ve got too much on their plates, but toddlers and elementary schoolers might struggle with letting their parents know if they are overwhelmed. Little ones might find themselves stressed over small problems or seemingly commonplace situations because their young minds and bodies are still developing. While adults have grown and developed the ability to manage stress and solve problems, young children are still learning this.
Parents should pay attention to changes in their child’s behavior. When young children throw tantrums or act out, this could be a sign of stress. In these situations, parents need to examine their household and look for things that might be causing their child stress. Family members fighting, moving or home renovations, and other significant changes can cause children stress. School can also be a factor; if children are struggling to keep up with homework, having trouble with friends, or have an unfriendly teacher, parents might notice stress in their child.
Communication is key when it comes to childhood stress. Parents need to let their children know that they can tell them anything. Even when a child makes a mistake or misbehaves, parents should talk with their kids about why this behavior was bad and ask them why they acted out. Doing this before giving any necessary punishments is important to help children trust their parents and allows parents to discover where their children might be feeling stress.
Getting Enough Sleep
We’ve all heard the common mantra that 8 hours of sleep is what everyone needs to maintain their body’s health, but for children who are still developing physically and mentally, 8 hours might not be enough. Babies and toddlers often sleep for longer periods of time, but so do elementary, middle, and even high schoolers. According to the National Sleep Foundation, child age groups require the following hours of sleep:
- 3-5 Years Old: 10-13 hours of sleep
- 6-13 Years Old: 9-11 hours of sleep
- 14-17 Years Old: 8-10 hours of sleep
- 18-25 Years Old: 7-9 hours of sleep
Even older kids, like teenagers and college students, usually need more than 8 hours of sleep. This is because even after children have finished growing, their brains are still in development. Not getting enough sleep can stunt brain development and not only make it harder for kids to pay attention in school but can also make it harder for them to retain new knowledge or think critically about their own decisions. This makes losing sleep not only exhausting for children but detrimental to their health. Parents should recognize this and talk with their kids openly about set hours for sleeping. Younger children will usually follow a bedtime rule easier than older kids, but if parents communicate with their teenagers to come to agreements on weeknight and weekend curfews, then they can help to make sure every member of the family is getting enough sleep.
Make Health Interactive
No matter the subject or task, when children have the opportunity to interact and take part in an activity, they are naturally more inclined to learn from it. This is why hands-on science labs and art projects in school can be so important for children to learn from. It is the same principle that drives child and family health. When parents get involved and actively work to make the wellness of their family interactive and engaging, children will learn how to take care of themselves that much more.
Interactive health is not just making health-conscious family meals. It is letting kids and teens have specific nights each week in which they decide what the family eats for dinner. It is having kids help cook and shop and learn the importance of different ingredients with their parents, rather than being told what they should or shouldn’t eat.
Interactive health is also more than just having kids go outside and play. It is parents setting up game days with the family, either outside or indoors, to keep everyone engaged and having fun together. It is finding local sports teams for your children to join and taking walks or bike rides together. Doing this will keep your kids excited about exercising without them feeling forced to participate in something that they don’t enjoy.
Every Kid Healthy Week is a wonderful organization that works to keep kids healthy and happy all across our nation, but they can’t do it alone. When families get involved and pay attention to their children’s stress levels, sleep schedules, and interactive health, then they can set their children up with the building blocks for a healthy life. Texarkana Emergency Center supports everyone in our community this Every Kid Healthy Week with our top-notch emergency care for all ages, pediatrics included.
Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Texarkana Emergency Center or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.