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June 29, 2017

10 Ways to Keep Your Child’s Brain Healthy and Active

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Raising children isn’t easy. As parents, we are expected to do a lot of
things for our children to insure their safety and wellness. Sometimes, it’s
tough to know what is right for them, and what isn’t. After all, they have
technology available to them that we never had. They also have a lot more
distractions than we did. They are consumed with stuff! These things in life don’t always scream “hey, this is
really going to hurt them later on down the road!”

So what are the essentials in life, in order to raise a happy and
healthy child? I wanted to make a list of the most important things to
remember, since life is so busy. I wanted to show parents that simple is best,
sometimes, and raising a child in this day and age doesn’t have to be so
difficult.

Here is a list of ten things we need to do with our children, to make
sure that they will be well- adjusted, and to give them the best chance at
life, when they become adults.

1.       Establish a daily routine. Be
consistent with the routine as much as possible. Children become grounded if
they have a routine to look forward to and depend on. It is a form of security
for them. It gives them stability and relieves stress.

I saw the need for this in my
own son. My ten year old son is very forgetful, and when I add more tasks into
his daily life, he starts to forget the normal expected tasks, one by one. When
he had sports or team practices, he was stressed out and couldn’t sleep. He
would forget his homework the next day and even his lunch. On the days when
there was no practice, he was much better.

We had to sit down and talk
about this and get a hold of his fears and his worries. I had to help him
remember things and be his cheerleader to encourage him. We were both looking
forward to the end of the season, and we aren’t sure if he will play that sport
again. It was too time consuming with 3 hour practices after school almost
every day. He had to have his down time, and this sport was getting in the way
of his brain being able to function correctly.

Be sensitive to your child’s
personality in regard to what they can handle. Sit back and analyze if this is
worth it, or if it is affecting their stress level and school work.

2.       Read with your child, or read to them,
every day. Find a book that they are interested in and finish it together. A
book opens their mind and lets them experience things that they haven’t lived
yet. Reading also helps in school, and that is always a good thing!

I noticed that my children had a
hard time finishing books that they started. They always wanted to quit after
the third chapter. I had to encourage them to finish what they started. At the
second or third chapter of a book, the characters have rarely even introduced
the challenge in the story, yet. They hadn’t even given the book a chance to
get good! Don’t let them quit.

Get involved in the book with
your child. This is a way to make memories with them, and help them to finish
the story. It’s best to read at night before they go to bed, to calm their
mind. It gives them something good to dream about. At the end of the book, they
have a sense of accomplishment that is so valuable as a teaching tool.

3.       Create a system of chores and rewards.
Kids always like to get an allowance, but I know that some kids don’t do what
they are supposed to until it’s pay day. They think they can get it all done in
ten minutes on Saturday, and then get money. That’s not real life. Set
boundaries for them and tell them your expectations. If they get paid an
allowance for every day’s chores, make sure that they do it every day.
Otherwise, pay them for the one day they worked, or pay them by the chore, as
they complete it. This method worked better for us.

A reward system is a good way to
establish expectations and create a work ethic. This will take time, and won’t
happen overnight. The parent has to do a little work too, like reminding them
of what needs to be done, and making a chore list for them. If you pay them at
the end of the week, make sure you encourage that they save for something or
have a goal of what to do with the money. Open a savings account for them, and
allow them to open up their monthly bank statements when they are mailed! Mail
is exciting and so is watching their money grow.

4.       Play outside with your child every day. Take them to the playground or play outside in your backyard. Make time to bond through play. This is the stuff memories are made of! Every kid wants to play. Get some outdoor toys at your home, a backyard swing set, or go to the local pay area. Just getting outside is important.

We need to be active and be sure
that our child sees us enjoying life. It’s healthy and feels good to play
outside. It makes us laugh and smile. Even in the cold weather, enjoy the
outdoors for a little while each day. Sunlight releases vitamin D in our
bodies, and that is essential for healthy development.

5.       Insure that they have a healthy diet.
Limit fast food to once a week or less, and see that they get a fruit or
vegetable at every meal.  This is a good rule for us, too. Our bodies need good food to keep us going. Our busy
schedules make it hard for us to eat right, so plan ahead! Make a weekly menu
to make sure that your family is eating right, or cook ahead.

This one was hard for my family.
We are busy people, so grabbing fast food was easier. We had to make a
commitment and make plans to stay home. This had also become a really bad
habit! But after a month, we realized that we had saved money and gas in the
car. My kids seemed to have more energy (me too) after eliminating fast food
from our diet. We weren’t as sluggish. We were glad we made the change, and
happy with the results!

6.       Limit their video games, TV, and texting
time
. The suggested time limit is one hour a day for TV. If they play video
games, that is the same thing, so place a limit on that too. Texting gets
tricky to limit. I try to take the cell phone away from my daughter before we
eat dinner together, then I give it back then next morning. I want to make sure
she talks to us! Take away the distractions, so that they can see that family
is more important.

For my son, the TV usage and
video games are a problem. I take those away after one hour, so he can read and
do his homework. If you look at a kid’s schedule, there really isn’t enough
time for everything, so enforcing limits on TV and video games is really
important.

A typical kid only has 5 hours
at home before they have to go to bed for the evening. In that time they have
homework, dinner, shower, playtime, sports and TV or video games. There just
isn’t enough time for a lot of TV. It’s more important to make them read or
study for upcoming tests at school.

7.       Play board games or other games that
require mental stimulation.
Learn chess, checkers, Connect Four, or
Battleship (depending on your child’s age level and skill). My family played a
lot of games while I was growing up, and I loved it! Games are a fun way to
laugh with and bond with your child. You can learn their strengths and
weaknesses, and learn their mannerisms. It’s good, clean fun and an enjoyable
past time.

8.       Encourage intellectual conversation.
Don’t just ask “how was your day?” Ask them “What did you enjoy the most about
today, and why? What did you do that was exciting? What did you do that you
didn’t like?” Don’t ask yes or no questions. Make them think about their
answers!

I learn so much from my kids
when I get them talking. Details come out from the day’s activities that I
never would have known, otherwise. Sometimes you have to ask deeper questions
to peel a layer back, piece by piece, to see what they are really thinking or
feeling. I don’t want a surface relationship with my children, and you probably
don’t either. To get some real answers, you have to dig deep, but that’s where
the diamonds are.

9.       Discipline your child when they have done
something
wrong. If they tell a
lie, don’t finish their homework, don’t do as they are told, or other expected
things, make sure you follow through with an effective disciplinary action.
They need to learn about consequences at home before they go out into the real world.
If you told them to do their homework or they wouldn’t be able to spend the
night at a friend’s house this weekend, then follow through with what you said.
If they tell a lie, you should take privileges away that will make them
remember that they don’t ever want to do that again.

When we are busy, we sometimes
forget to enforce rules, and this will hurt our children in the long run. It’s
important that we show them what we expect. If a discussion won’t work, then
grounding them from their favorite past time is a good alternative. In our
house, we continue to take privileges away until the message is received and
the behavior truly changes.

10.   Let them pick a fun activity to do with you.
Give them 4 or 5 choices to choose from (museum, library, playground, picnic,
movies, concert, make a craft together, etc.) and see what they want to do!
This is a learning experience for us, to see what they like. It helps form
early opinions and early decision making ability. Do it once a month, or more,
if possible. As long as you limit the choices they have, you are ok to let them
pick from those.

To help you in your efforts of
raising a well-rounded child, here are a few good links to some healthy kid’s
websites.

For kids play set equipment or
outdoor toys, go to: http://www.gorillaplaysets.com/

For healthy kid’s recipes: http://kidshealth.org/kid/recipes/index.html

Saving money ideas for kids http://www.kids.gov/k_5/k_5_money.shtml

 

 

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