Raising healthy children is more than a notion. That is particularly true in this age of information. Years ago, most kids spent hours playing outside, ripping around,running here and there. Nowadays, more children spend time indoors “plugged-in” to all types of electronic devices. There are those who are involved in sports and other activities that get them off the couch and out of the house, however, not all households have the time or financial wherewithal to make those types of investments. So what’s a parent to do to make sure you’re raising healthy children?

Children can bephysically fit, eat all the right food, exercise and look good, but not necessarily be “healthy children.” In fact, according to the World Health Organization:

Child health is a state of physical, mental, intellectual, social and emotional well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Healthy children live in families, environments and communities that provide them with the opportunity to reach their fullest developmental potential.

1. Be a Good Role Model

Be the person you want your child to grow up to be. Kids learn by watching adults. This is an instance where actions truly speak louder than words. Gracious people are appreciated more than those who are not. When you listen to certain conversations, you’ll hear people expressing warm feelings toward others who are polite, mannerly and kind.

2. Teach Honesty

Honesty really is the best policy. It’s better to accept the consequences of one’s behavior than to weave a web of deceit. There are stories, like The Boy Who Cried Wolf,that bring the point home to kids. It’s difficult for a parent to defend a child who has a reputation for being dishonest. Such kids often bear the brunt of the trouble in school, whether or not they are involved.

3. Read Every Day

From kindergarten to third grade, kids are learning how to read fluently. By fourth grade, they are expected to use reading as a tool to solve problems. Kids who are not reading up to grade level by the end of third grade are more likely to drop out of high school. The inability to read well sets up a child for unhappiness and a host of issues, as he or she finds alternative ways to navigate in a world of written words. You still need to be able to read to fill out a job application.

4. Communication Is Key

Sharing your feelings is a big part of communication. Let your kids know how you feel about things and encourage them to share their feelings also. This teaches kids how to express their feelings. Open communication will also help prevent your child from internalizing problems that aren’t theirs.

You’re no doubt going to do the right things to ensure your child’s physical heath. But remember, truly healthy children are healthy in mind, body and spirit!

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