There’s an old proverb which says “see the child at 7 and see the adult”. So here are a few must-learn healthy habits for kids so that the future adult isn’t snot-covered and sunburnt!
Wear a hat
The habit of putting on a hat whenever your child heads outdoors can start being taught from when he’s a baby. Most schools and childcare centres have a “No hat, no play” rule, so try enforcing one similar at home. And lead by example – make sure you always put on a hat whenever you go outside too.
Why you need to wear a hat
- Overexposure to UV during childhood and adolescence is known to be a major cause of skin cancer.
- 90% of damage leading to premature aging of the skin is cause by UV rays from the sun.
Coughing and sneezing etiquette
It seems that some kids constantly have a cough, cold and a very runny nose. Teach your littlie early to turn their head away from other people when coughing or sneezing and cover their mouth with their upper sleeve or elbow – not hand – or a tissue. Any used tissues should be immediately put in the rubbish bin and then hands washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, then dried thoroughly . If soap and water is not available, use hand sanitiser.
Why you need to take care when you cough and sneeze
- Cold and flu germs spread from person to person by way of coughing, sneezing or even talking. Droplets from an infected person get into the air and are inhaled by people nearby – anyone within a metre can be infected.
Wear a helmet
Whether your child is riding a scooter or a bike even up and down the driveway, he should be encouraged to wear a helmet from a young age so it becomes second nature. There are lots of very cool and colourful helmets available for children, just make sure it’s a good fit.
Why you need to wear a helmet
- According to research from the US, wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of serious head injury by as much as 85% in the event of a crash, and the risk of brain injury by up to 88%. Helmets have also been shown to reduce the risk of injury to the upper and mid-face by 65%.
Wash your hands
You can’t have a list of healthy habits for kids without including this one. But this a simplified message, without the need for anti-bacterial soaps. All your child needs to do is use regular soap, water and friction to make their hands clean. Teach them to wash their hands after using the toilet, blowing their nose or playing with pets, and before eating.
Why you need to wash your hands
- Hand-washing is one of the most effective and important ways to control the spread of germs. Vigorous washing for 20 seconds – or for the time it take to sing the ABC song – is all that’s needed to get clean hands, according to the US Centre for Disease Control.
- Don’t scare the kids with this fact, but diseases like meningitis, flu, hepatitis A and most forms of infectious diarrhoea can be spread simply by dirty hands.
Clean your teeth
There’s no escaping this healthy habit with oral health so closely associated with overall health. If your child gets used to having their teeth cleaned twice a day, it will be an ingrained habit by the time they are in pre-school. Seeing parents clean their own teeth in the morning and night is also a subliminal habit-forming device.
Why you need to clean your teeth
- The human mouth has been described as a “window to your body’s overall health”. For example, poor oral health and gum disease has been linked with heart disease and cardiovascular problems.
- Baby teeth serve as spacers for the adult teeth. If the baby teeth need to be removed due to decay, they won’t be there to guide in the adult teeth which could lead to very costly orthodontic treatment to repair a bad bite or crooked teeth.
Don’t share drinks…
… or iceblocks, lollypops, cutlery or chap sticks. Many nasty germs are spread this way. Don’t scare your children, but firmly enforce a “no drink sharing” stance and practice the same at home.
Why you don’t share food
- The diseases spread by saliva include colds, flu and more serious ailments like meningitis and meningicoccal. So not sharing drinks and so on is a sensible practice for children to adopt.
Make healthy food choices
Your child needs your help completely for this – both in a providing and modelling role. Keep the pantry, fridge and fruit basket filled with yummy and nutritious snacks and meal options. Keep introducing him to healthy food and, as he gets a bit older, include him in making decisions about what to cook for dinner, or pack for lunch. A really good tip is to keep lots of fruit and veggies peeled, washed and cut up in the fridge – prepared fruit is a lot more palatable and enticing for grown ups and kids alike.
Why you need to make healthy food choices
- Recent statistics from the World Health Organisation show that 22 million children in the world under the age of five years are severely overweight. Research suggests many of these children will grow up to be overweight or obese adults which brings a myriad of health problems.
- It’ll be healthier for you too – studies have found that kids tend to mirror their parents’ eating habits so show them how much you love fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and lean meats