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Fighting Obesity & Raising Healthy Children Through Sports

Fighting Obesity & Raising Healthy Children Through Sports

Since I’m concentrating on home improvement, parenting, and overall life improvement recently, I have been paying attention to some different stuff. I was walking next to a children’s playground the other day that was completely empty. It got me thinking, why are there no children playing here?

The era of digitalization and virtual reality is progressing rapidly, and we find ourselves stuck to modern entertainment more than ever before. Many of our children are addicted to video games and social networks and have lost their interest for playgrounds like these. A sedentary lifestyle — a lack of activity — is one of the factors that may lead to obesity, which is one of the most common health problems in the world today.

During my walk, I encountered a group of youngsters all looking for Pokémon. It got me thinking — at least there is something that brings kids out of their rooms, off the couches. If there is a possibility to stimulate children to be active and healthy, it should be understood better and shared. Around one-third of children are obese today. While obesity can be caused by medical issues or just genetics, as parents there are some easy things we can do to reduce the risk. We all want our kids to be happy, healthy, and to grow into healthy people.

Children are our future, and we must take this issue seriously.

A positive attitude towards the solution is the best answer and a foundation for the future generations. Healthy living is our obligation, our necessity, our right. Our children can have healthy lives, and we are the ones responsible for them. It’s not that hard — we only need to be smart and make some good decisions.

Proper education during the raising of children is important, no doubt about that, but being healthy is not something you can tutor your child in. This is actual, physical work.

The quickest and most cost-effective way to achieve this is to get your child interested in sports.

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Of course, you don’t need to enlist your child in every available sports activity; letting them choose one will be quite sufficient. There are numerous advantages of staying active, and, according to some experts, not all of them are of a physical nature.

Here are some suggestions to help in raising healthy children:

Preschool

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    During this period, your kid should be focused on exploring the world and their surroundings, learning about them, and having fun. It would be smart to restrict any usage of modern technology, simply because kids get addicted to it pretty quickly.

    Although it may seem difficult to keep up the pace with children as they wiggle and run around, do your best. Try to be a part of their world. Here’s an interesting idea for some quality time with your kid — obtain a trampoline for your yard or house. This will probably be a fulfillment of your childhood dream, and your kid will enjoy it as well.

    A trampoline will provide a lot of playtime for your youngster, and you can join the party. It relieves stress and enhances balance and natural stamina. Jumping on a trampoline together will strengthen the child-parent bond, which will benefit both of you in the long term.

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    Swimming

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      One of the rare sports which can literally be prescribed by doctors, swimming can benefit your child in many ways. To move the body through the water, all muscle groups need to be active, so a benefit is seen from the very beginning. Lung capacity is also increased.

      Trust can be built with swimming, as the parent can show and teach a child the basics of breathing, swimming, and most importantly, overcoming the fear of water. This is a vital cornerstone for building a solid foundation of trust and an excellent opportunity to bond.

      Dancing

      raising healthy children - dancing
        Photo by Meg Stewart via Flickr, Creative Commons license

        Children simply love to dance. Whether it be to hard rock music and Whitesnake or R&B with Beyoncé, they will swing their hips and enjoy it. Flowing with the music is one of the best feelings ever, topped only by flowing with skills and knowledge. Feet and body coordination will be improved, as well as motor skills. Other benefits include reduced risk of osteoporosis, increased heart and lung condition, muscle tone, and many others.

        Also, social skills and building confidence are part of dancing. This is important, especially in a modern world. As a parent, you have the responsibility of recognizing which kind of music your child likes best, and trying to find that or similar kinds of dance lessons. Who knows, perhaps you will start as well?

        Basketball

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          Around the age of two, kids start trying to dribble the ball. Later, as their coordination improves, they become better and better at doing so. The art of putting the ball through the hoop will benefit them in terms of improving eye-hand coordination, increasing jump height, and building stamina and endurance.

          Basketball is also a team sport, which means that your child will learn how to be a useful part of the group, and how to think fast, thus improving their reflexes. Socializing is also a plus, meaning that the child will have friends apart from school, broadening their views.

          Martial arts

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            The world we are living in is not as friendly as we would love it to be. Sometimes we have to think in advance to be prepared. To be clear, not all martial arts are violent and bloody. Take aikido for example. The art of defending yourself with care for the opponent may seem like a strange combination, but it builds courage and self-confidence.

            If your child knows that if someone wants to hurt them, he or she can defend themselves without a fatal outcome, it will develop a into significant part of their personality. It can teach them how to bear with stress and other problems once they grow up. Of course, there are other arts as well. Capoeira is a combination of dance and martial art, and with its jumping and twisting it can seems rather interesting to kids.

            Soccer

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              The art of kicking the ball is one of the most popular sports today. Role models such as Leo Messi and David Beckham are present on children’s posters, but there is more under the surface. Excellent stamina and feet, eye, and body coordination are the most common benefits for those who decide to enlist in this sport. Kids also feel great when accomplishing something as part of the team, so they will be overjoyed once their team wins. If you are a soccer fan, be sure to introduce them to some of your favorite classic players and their personality.

              Gymnastics

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                Present in human society since the dawn of civilization, this sport was considered as art for ancient Greeks and therefore was part of the Olympics since the beginning. Those kids who enlist in this sport may continue practicing it, or it can be considered as a foundation for any other sport. Practicing gymnastics, your child can develop muscle tone and flexibility.

                It’s not that hard to raise a healthy child

                The most important thing is to make your youngster try several activities, and see which one they enjoy the best. After that, make sure you’re helping them progress and not forcing anything. The love for the game will do the rest.

                There is no better way to improve our children’s health than sports. Not just physical development, but emotional and mental as well; this is the way to create better people and thus a better future.

                Are you raising a youngster at the moment? Let us know how you do it!

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                Dejan Kvrgic

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                Published on January 24, 2020

                5 Ways to Improve Your Parenting Skills (Psychology-Backed)

                5 Ways to Improve Your Parenting Skills (Psychology-Backed)

                There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Parenting is hard. It takes a great deal of effort to be even a decent parent. My husband and I are raising our three children ages 6, 6, and 7.

                Yes, I have my hands full. Twin six-year-old boys and a seven-year-old girl keep me on my parenting toes, so to speak. It is not easy, but I do my best to be a good parent. Having a PhD in psychology is helpful, but I still devour plenty of parenting books and research articles to continually try to do better. I am still a work in progress just like all parents.

                  It would be great if we knew exactly what to do and how to do it with our kids. But not all kids are the same and they are not born with a manual that provides us with instructions on how to raise them right. However, we do have research on parenting and psychology that can help us out and point us in the right direction.

                  Below I have five tips on how to improve your parenting skills starting today! These tips are backed by research. The first step toward being a great parent is knowing how. It is difficult to be a good parent without knowing first and foremost the how and why.

                  1. Practice Loving without Conditions

                  Loving unconditionally seems like a given that we all assume we are doing as a parent. However, we may have behaviors or words spoken that undermine our ability for our children to feel unconditionally loved.

                  For example, asking our child if he wants another mom when he is acting out is not practicing unconditional love. The message that is being sent to the child is that if they act out or misbehave, they are at risk of losing you as a mother, since you ask “do you want another mom” or “do you want to live somewhere else?”

                  If you have ever made these statements, it doesn’t mean you are a terrible parent. However, if we want our child to feel loved unconditionally, then we need to stop saying things that make the child feel like the relationship could ever be severed because of their behavior.

                  Another way to look at these threats is comparing them to threatening divorce. If you have ever been married, or lived in a home with married parents, then you know that when one person threatens divorce, it cuts to the core.

                  Threatening divorce damages the relationship, because trust is lost. The other person begins to feel that that their relationship may not be forever, and that the relationship can be ended because their spouse is threatening divorce. Even if the person threatening doesn’t really mean what they are saying and they truly love their spouse, the words are damaging none the less.

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                  The same principles go for parent and child relationships. If a child has been threatened with loss of their current home life, the parent leaving them, or being placed in foster care, then that child does not feel loved unconditionally. They will believe that love from their parent is contingent on their behavior. It is conditional love which means that they are only loved under certain conditions.

                  My son Charlie has recently gotten into the habit of saying “I love you Mom” every time that he gets in trouble. He kicked the dog the other day. Not hard, but nevertheless he kicked our family dog. I was fuming. I yelled at him and he was sent to his room for a long time out (I know the yelling was not a good thing to do). I couldn’t even think of a consequence in the heat of the moment so I said “go to your room, I don’t want to see you right now, I will think about your consequence later.”

                  He cried, and as he was running up the stairs and he was saying “I love you Mommy, I love you Mommy, I love you Mommy.” Why was he saying that? Because in his six-year-old mind, he is worried that I will stop loving him if he has bad behavior.

                  Kids don’t know that we love them unconditionally. They are learning though and we must teach them that we do. My response in this situation and always is to say “I love you too.” I then usually follow it up with “I don’t like your behavior right now, but I will always love you.”

                  Kids need to be told that they are loved regardless of their behavior. It needs to be ingrained that they are loved even if they act out, break the rules, or misbehave.

                  An article by Elite Daily examined several research studies on unconditional love.[1] The findings from these studies showed that children become more well-adjusted, emotionally healthy, and physically healthy adults when they experience unconditional love in childhood. When children are exposed to conditional love in their parent-child relationship, the research showed that, children have higher levels of anxiety which in turn negatively affects their long-range health, such as heart health.

                  Loving unconditionally means loving without conditions. Unconditional love is loving someone just the way that they are, flaws and all. Tell your children that you love them, even when they break the rules, misbehave, or they tell you that they hate you (most kids say this to their parents at some point in time).

                  You must always respond with “I love you regardless of your behavior.” It doesn’t mean that you are accepting or allowing the bad behavior. There should always be reasonable consequences to match the behavior. However, they shouldn’t ever be made to feel that the love of their parent can be revoked because of bad behaviors.

                  2. Develop a Bond That Will Last a Lifetime by Creating Memories

                  You need to spend time with your kids in order to create a bond. Quality time matters, but so does quantity time.

                  Kids want to be with their parents. Spend time together as a family. For example, make it a point to have dinner at the kitchen or dining room table at least a few nights a week. Make a rule that no technology is allowed at the table during that time, so that you can talk and spend time together.

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                  Before you know it, that child will be grown and out of your home. Take the time to spend meal times together, talking and truly getting to know your child before they leave your home as an adult.

                  Barking Up the Wrong Tree looked at research on how to create happy memories that last a lifetime. Some of the things discovered in the research included:[2]

                  • Memories are made when our senses and emotions are elevated.
                  • If we are pulling out the camera phone, it is likely an elevated experience that you want to remember.
                  • Celebrating milestones and praiseworthy moments (graduations, winning seasons, etc.) helps to create positive lasting memories.
                  • Struggling together creates a bond. If you have worked through conflict in your relationship and made it better in the process then you have created a bond. Fraternities haze, soldier fight together, and families overcome struggles together. These all make for lasting bonds. When you struggle together as a family, celebrate the success at the end of your victory, once you have overcome the challenge together.

                  Take the time to make memories with your children. They are only little once. Go on those vacations, hike to the top of a mountain together, sail across an ocean, go camping, or teach them to ice-skate.

                  Do anything and everything that will help create memories, bonds, and experiences that will last a lifetime in their memory. Those memories are what will carry them into old age with happiness in their heart.

                  3. Stop the Yelling

                  Yelling at our kids is not good parenting. Yet it is still happening on regular basis in most homes. I admit, I am still continually working on this one. I think this quote summarizes the situation.

                    However, I know I need to continually work to not yell or raise my voice, as I would prefer a household with zero voices ever raised.

                    Yelling causes our children to become anxious. It also affects them emotionally and mentally in a negative manner. If you have ever been yelled at by a boss or superior, you probably remember it and it is not a fond memory. It made you feel bad. It is hard enough to be reprimanded in a calm voice.

                    When someone, whether adult or child, is yelled at while being reprimanded it causes anxiety, stress, and negative emotions to abound. When the yelling involves name calling or insults it becomes emotional abuse.

                    Heathline Parenthood examined research on the topic of yelling and found that parents who yell at their kids end up with children who are more aggressive verbally and physically.[3] Children learn from their parents’ example. If yelling is a regular occurrence in your household, then your child is learning that when dealing with behavior or situations that they don’t like, it is appropriate to yell. None of us want to teach that to our children, so we must take action to stop the yelling.

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                    Healthline provides some tips on how to stop yelling:

                    • Know what triggers the yelling. What are the behaviors occurring or situations where you find yourself yelling at your children?
                    • When you feel that you are going to yell, give yourself a time out or count to ten.
                    • Practice responding in a calm, even tone. Practice makes the action a habit.
                    • If you do yell, then admit the mistake and apologize to your child. They will then learn that it is not an acceptable behavior and that they too should apologize if they make a mistake and end up yelling. (Yes, I apologized to Charlie for yelling and he had to apologize to our dog Max.)

                    My article about yelling less at your kids less is also helpful: The Only Effective Way to Talk With Children When They Are Acting Out. This article outlines the steps to use the “one-ask” parenting approach. This approach is used to help parents follow up with consequences more quickly so that situations don’t escalate to worse behavior by the children and yelling from the parents. Some tips from this article on talking to your children without yelling include the following.

                    • Get on their level, talking face to face in a calm voice.
                    • Don’t make repeated threats about a consequence that is coming to them and wait for the situation to become more heated.
                    • Follow through with the consequence (i.e. loss of playtime or time-out) immediately after they violate your warning. Don’t wait for them to repeat the bad behavior several more times. One warning is all that is needed. Then, if they break the rule or don’t obey, the consequence should be immediately implemented.

                    If you find that your yelling is so entrenched in your daily behaviors that you have a hard time kicking the habit and you need more support, then buy, or find at your local library, the book Triggers by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake. Their tips were even featured on the Focus on the Family national radio program and were rated as a number one show for 2019. Their gentle parenting methods simply work.

                    A quote from the book:

                    “Peacemaking moms produce peacemaking kids.”

                    Wendy and Amber also have a Facebook group that is free to join. It is Gentle Parenting with Amber and Wendy. In this group, you will find thousands of other parents looking for support to yell less in their homes. Check out the group if you want more connected support to stop yelling at your kids. I am a member of this group too. Nobody is perfect, but we can do better as parents by yelling less starting today.

                    4. Provide Experiences Over Toys

                    Toys are fun. But our kids don’t need an excess of overcomplicated, electronic, and expensive toys in order to be happy or develop in a healthy manner. Focusing on experiences over toys is a way to improve as a parent now.

                    The next holiday or birthday that comes up, think about gifting your child an experience, for example, a year membership to the children’s museum or zoo. Another experience is a trip to someplace interesting such as a National Park. These experiences help to create memories. They also help to make your child a more well rounded individual as they are out in the world experiencing activities rather than sitting in their room playing the newest video game.

                    Motherly posted a recent article that delved into the science that experiences are better for our kids than toys. Here is a quote from that article that is worth noting.[4]

                    And if we need one more reason to cool it on the toy giving, researchers have discovered that gratitude and generosity increase when experiences are given instead of objects. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, conducted many studies over many decades and found that happiness is derived from experiences, not things. Bottom line: The happiness derived from a childhood experience is far more significant than the fleeting excitement of toys under the Christmas tree. Giving experiences that involve spending time together instead of gifting toys brings greater and longer-lasting joy. Don’t stress about the number of toys, mama. Focus on making memories.

                    Creating family experiences and making memories go hand-in-hand. Our money and resources get more bang for their buck when they are used on experiences for the family instead of things. The research from the Motherly article shows that families are happier overall when they have more experiences together and less toys.

                    5. Let Them Play and Be a Child

                    Play and childhood development go hand-in-hand. However, the amount of playtime our children are getting has been diminishing in recent decades.

                    We are so intent on our children learning, that we take away from their playtime. Play is learning. We need to get our children back to basic playtime so they can develop and learn in a natural way.

                    Increase their playtime and limit the electronics. Research by Very Well Family found that too much technology is damaging to our children.[5] When children get too much time on electronic devices, their research found that children have sleep issues, obesity, behavior problems, academic problems, and emotional issues. Limit your children’s time on technology.

                    According to We Can, we need to aim for less than two of screen time per day for our school aged children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends far less time for children under the age of five. We Can offers a free screen time chart so you can track your child’s time on digital devices.

                    The goal is to get children playing and off the technology. Playing will help them developmentally. In my book Let Them Play, I explain the importance of play and provide 100 child developmental play activities. Some great play activities that promote development and learning that are listed in the book including Play Doh, magnet blocks, Legos, puppet shows, and hopscotch.

                    Parents can teach their children different play activities while they actively play with their children. Fifteen or twenty minutes of playtime together can help to create bonding time between parent and child. Then the parent can allow their children to continue playing the activity on their own. This play time is crucial to the child’s healthy social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.

                    They are only little once. Let them be a child when they are little. Two-year-old children aren’t meant to sit at desks for hours completing school work. They were made to play, explore, and be active physically. This is how they learn and develop best.

                    Final Thoughts

                    These are not the only ways to improve as a parent. However, these are five ways that you can begin improving as a parent starting today.

                    Nobody is a perfect parent, which means we all have room for improvement. Look at your own parenting methods objectively and decide where you can improve. Then do something about it.

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                    Featured photo credit: Jonathan Daniels via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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