May 18, 2017

Bothersome Bodies And What To Tell Your Children About Them

Children do their learning from other people. They have yet to build experience or make their own judgments. Instead, they rely on teachers and parents to show them the way. When you become a parent, you take on more responsibility than you realize. School may take care of the educational stuff, but you will have to teach your kids everything else. From manners to self-care, it all falls on you. Yet, it can be hard to know what essential knowledge your kids need. As with many issues when it comes to parenting, there are differing opinions. One thing that seems to divide parents most is what we should teach our children about their bodies. 

For the most part, opposition to this particular subject comes from the issues that can arise from it. Many parents would argue that their kids don’t need to know about their bodies. After all, a focus on the subject could lead to problems. While this is true, no-one can deny that problems like childhood obesity are ever on the rise. Is that because we’ve stopped speaking about them? There’s no denying that there are some obvious risks to a focus on the subject. But, if you don’t talk to your children about how they treat their bodies, they could face serious issues down the line. Worse, they’ll have no idea how to cope with them! The answer, it seems, can be found in how we raise the issue. 

First, you need to arm yourself with facts. Do your research. The more you know about the human body, the better understanding you’ll have of what to teach. Then, decide which areas you want to focus on. And, most importantly, decide how you’re going to speak about each. There’s no denying that you should act with caution here. A sensitive topic requires a delicate approach. Here are some of the subjects we think worth tackling, and some ideas about how best to do it. 


THE WEIGHT ISSUE

This is the area most parents struggle with, so it makes sense to get it out of the way! Teaching kids about weight is problematic. For the most part, the reasons why are obvious. Eating disorders are rife in children and young adults. The majority of disorders start between 11 and 14, though some have been reported as early as 7. So, issues of weight can go wrong if you don’t tackle them right. But, no parent can deny that childhood obesity is also on the rise. One in five school children are now clinically obese. A shocking statistic, we’re sure you’ll agree. 

So, how can you find a balance? For the most part, it’s all about how you approach the subject. You should never mention weight to your children. Ever. That applies, even if you think they have a weight-related issue. Instead, focus on the causes of that problem. Namely, your child’s relationship with food. Your primary focus should be changing that relationship. Make sure you’re feeding your kids the right foods. And, teach them about healthy eating at every opportunity. That way, they stand to lose weight without their waistline ever coming into question. Even better, the habits you harbor in them now will see them through their adult lives, too. 


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THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING ACTIVE

You also need to teach your children how important it is to stay active. That’s right; we’re talking about the much-dreaded exercise. They will take part in physical education lessons at school. But, you need to continue the practice. Fitness is, after all, a message that none of us can hear too often. With kids often sitting in front of computers for long periods, it’s more important now than ever. You only have to look into the effects of repetitively sitting in the squatting position to realize that. Of course, getting your kids excited about exercise is easier said than done. The best way to start their motivation is to teach them the effects not doing it can have on their body. Again, you’re staying away from that dreaded weight word. Instead, focus on the effects on posture and general health. 

It can also help to lead by example here. If you don’t exercise, why should they? It could become a fun activity you do together. Bear in mind, though, that children won’t want to go on crazy long runs. Instead, find get fit methods that would appeal to them. It may be that you have a regular practice of playing sport together in the garden. Or, maybe you have dancing sessions to their favorite songs? Both of these are sure to go down well. Make sure to incorporate these activities into their routines. The whole family can keep fit this way. And, again, starting this when they’re young means they’ll take exercise forward with them. 

WHAT TO DO WHEN THINGS GO WRONG

Illness is something we all need to talk about, and your children are no exception. It is, of course, a vast subject. As such, it can be hard to know where to start. The best way forward is to focus on illness in your kids. With a little luck, your teachings will never be relevant. But, preparing your children for illness is the best way to tackle it if it does happen. That’s not to say you need to teach them about terrible illnesses. But, there’s nothing wrong with letting them know about small things to look out for. Their knowledge will help keep them calm when they are ill. It could also help you give them care at a faster rate. 

But, what small niggles should they look out for? First, teach them about high temperatures. Tell them what they are, and what they should do if they feel that way. Keep the discussion fun by showing them a thermometer. Take this time to explain what it does. Let them test it, and get to know their normal body temperature. That way, they’ll know what’s happening if they do get ill. Once that’s out of the way, talk about things they should look for on their bodies. Strange bruises or rashes should be top of your list. These are things you may not get a chance to see. If your child knows to look out for them, you won’t have to worry. And, your child will get treatment faster than they may have otherwise. 


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EVERYTHING MATTERS

Sometimes, when we teach children about their bodies, we forget to emphasize that everything matters. We focus on the big issues, without mentioning those small things. A fun way to teach your children everything matters is to teach them about the intricacies of their bodies. Buy a book which looks at human bodies, and have fun going through it with them. As you do, tell them what each body part does for them, Tell them, too, how they can care for it. Things we may not focus on as much as we should are teeth, sight, and hearing. Yet, all these are crucial! 

There’s plenty of advice out there about encouraging good dental hygiene in children. Make sure you use it! When it comes to teaching them to brush their teeth, tell them how important the process is. Get them excited about their toothbrushes, and show them how to reach awkward places. And, don’t forget to take them for regular checkups at the dentist. Again, this is a habit you want them to keep. If you don’t take them when they’re young, it’s unlikely they’ll start going when they get older. 

The same can be said for their eyes. Children’s eyesight can change at a rapid pace, so it’s important they get checked often. If they do have to wear glasses, try to make them excited about this, too. And, express how important it is that they wear them. Try to make them understand what could happen if they keep straining their eyes. Give examples of all the things you need good eyesight for. If they have their sights set on a career that requires good eyesight, use that as an example. Anything to help stress the point! 

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With their hearing, there’s no real need for regular testing. If they have a problem, the doctor may want to check often. Otherwise, you can keep the learning here at home. Many children wear earphones often, so it’s important you teach them about their hearing. Make sure they know what damage loud music could do. And, teach them how important it is not to put anything too far into their ears! 

CONCLUSION

Of course, that’s not everything you might want to teach your children about their health. The priorities will shift, depending on the child. But, these points are a good way to open the conversation. They’re also fantastic for starting healthy habits in your kids. Other issues may arise over time, so make sure to adjust your teaching to suit. You’ll be able to rest easy knowing your children are health conscious for themselves!