Yesterday the BBC reported that “554 four-year-olds and their mothers from Southampton wore a lightweight combined heart-rate monitor and accelerometer on their chests, for up to seven days.They discovered that the more active a mother is, the more physically active her child will be.
However Children are not “just naturally active”, it concluded, and parents have an important role to play in developing healthy exercise habits early on in life.
As a mother of four spanning 4 decades, I have seen eating habits change over my years of parenthood and I think real poor eating habits began around the 80?s when convenience foods really started to break through to ‘save time’ High sugar cereals gave toys away as gifts. Mc Donalds started popping up everywhere and eating out really started to become available to all.
At the same time Pac Man games and all computer consoles started to appear on the entertainment side, the only plus was ball parks and ‘wacky warehouses became fashionable for children’s parties Shame good play session always ended with deep fried chicken nuggets and chips.
So all advertising on the television was pushed towards these high sugar/high fat meals and over the years people have been brain washed into thinking ‘low fat, reduced sugar ‘ Are the way forward.
“Its ok to give the children these crisps they are low fat.”
I have been in restaurants in the past and on the next table to families where the children are asking for fruit from the ‘buffet’ and the Mother has said “You can’t have fruit until you finish those chips.”
Its that old ‘finish all you have on your plate’,no waste etc.Mindset. Well no waste goes on the waist.
*First of all take responsibility for your child’s eating and movement habits,You CAN have your say. Things become more difficult as they gain more independence around 12 and 13, good habits need to be set in place as early as possible.
*Don’t suddenly tell your child you can’t have this any more or discuss the weight issue as they really are looking to you for guidance and you can find an alternative healthy option to the crisps, chocolate etc.
*There is plenty of advice and help out there, invest in it if you don’t have the funds to pay for advice, go to the doctor and see what he can provide, without your child there to listen to what he can do to offer you assistance or, You go on line and research.
*Huge one.. Get the children out, as much as possible, the laptop, tv is a baby sitter and whilst certain skills can be enhanced on a computer, restrict the hours that your child is spending on these.
*Stop killing your child with ‘kindness’ So maybe they are not going to ‘love you any more’ or think that you are mean for not allowing them to have sweets in the cupboard, but seriously You are in charge of their HEALTH.
*I cannot understand why people don’t feel comfortable in asking the nursery, the restaurant, cafe, school to help in improving their child’s diet. I often hear that water is not allowed on the desk. Go and talk to the school and explain that water should be allowed frequently for children to encourage good habits and see how the children’s attention levels will benefit from this one simple thing.
In the restaurant ask for child portions or order starters, ask for food to be cooked how you want. YOU are paying. I have been involved in the catering industry in the past and more feedback is necessary for children dining out.
*You don’t need to push children into group exercise and clubs etc.
If your child hates the thought of being left at the little gym bods door then stop, don’t worry , there are many ways of keeping the children fit in their own back yard or park if no space.
Skipping ropes, bikes, skates are all great ways of keeping fit and these can be bought at car boots or from e bay and local newspapers if strapped for cash.
My boys best fitness item was the garden trampoline. They had no idea I bought it to keep them fit. Hours of play on there with balls, water, probably a few things they shouldn’t have had on there too including the dog!
*One of the most physical things that children enjoy and some good bonding can be achieved is camping. Find a camp site with some trees and woodland near by and take some sheets an old tyre and rope and you can watch them play creating their own den and workout area, imagination, creativity and not even a mention of no you can’t have chocolate or play on the laptop,they will be too busy.
*If your child is of school age or above look back to when they were a baby,crawling,starting to walk, unable to talk ,did you ever think that they needed a bar of chocolate when they started to cry, or thought they actually NEEDED to watch the TV? I am sure not, we usually have given these things to our children at some point to give them a sweet tooth (and I have also been guilty in the past) to give US a rest, be honest. They were so inquisitive climbing the stairs, opening cupboards.
They haven’t changed, We have changed them. Move them into a new area that stimulates and let them explore and the children will come back for food when hungry, at this time be ready with healthy snacks on hand….