Tips for Raising a Healthy and Happy Child
You may be surprised to learn that raising a happy child is actually simpler than you think. Your child doesn’t need electronics, the latest toys or a ton of extracurricular activities to be happy. They simply need real, wholesome food, good sleep and time for unstructured play. Find that hard to believe? Keep reading to learn more!
Did you know that moods swings and even depression is often the direct result of a heavily processed-food diet? The fact is, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain! Your tummy and brain actually work together, each influencing the other.
Focus on feeding your child WHOLE foods, these are foods that have not been altered from the original state, they have no added chemicals or pesticides. Educate yourself on proper nutrition and the dangers of junk food and processed foods and change the food beliefs of your entire family.
When your child goes too long without eating, there might be fluctuations in their blood sugar which can cause them to become irritable. We’ve all seen he Snickers commercial “You’re not you when you’re hungry!” The same goes for your child, their growing bodies constantly need to be refueled, so try to keep their meal and snack times consistent.
Regular, Quality Sleep
When your child doesn’t get enough sleep, they become grouchy and can have mood swings, it also negatively impacts children’s behavior and attention. As little as 27 minutes of extra sleep a night has been shown to have a positive impact on children’s mood and behavior. Children aged 5 to 12 need about 10-11 hours of sleep a night for optimal mood and health.
Allow for Free Play
Children need unstructured playtime to build their imaginations, relieve stress and simply to be a kid. Free play allows your child to reach social, emotional and cognitive development milestones. Avoid the urge to sign your child up for too many extra-curricular scheduled activities. Give your child simple toys like blocks and dolls to stimulate their minds in creative play. Free play time is also an ideal time for active play, like tag or chasing butterflies, which is naturally mood-boosting.
Your child need to be able to express their emotions, they need to yell, cry, stomp their feet and run around with excitement. This is how they express their emotions, which is healthy for emotional development and will prevent a lifetime of internalizing negative emotions. Encourage and allow your child to vent and express his emotions in healthy ways.
Kids are always being told what to do, if we give them the ability to make some choices, it will go a long way toward increasing their happiness. Try letting your child decide what to wear or what to eat (within reason), or give them choices for activities and let them decide which one they would like to do.
Your child knows when you’re not really listening to them, so when they are talking to you, stop what you’re doing, and listen to them. Your child’s happiness will soar when he feels like you are truly listening and responding to what they are saying. Not only will you feel more connected to your child, but you’ll also build his self-confidence and happiness.
Your child needs your unconditional love, and they need it consistently. If your child makes a mistake, let them know you still love and support them regardless. Your child will grow up confident and happy knowing you are behind every step they take.
This is essential for vitamin D production, low levels of which are linked to depression. Even beyond vitamin D, regular safe sun exposure is known to enhance mood and energy through the release of endorphins.
Your child senses when you are stressed out and unhappy, and they will feel sad and worried in response. You are their first role model, so lead by example, and smile, embrace the bright side to life.