The lessons you pass on to your children will stay with them for a lifetime. If you help them make healthy choices now, they’ll have an easier time making healthy choices when they’re adults. If your kids have special needs, they may need extra attention and care, but you won’t necessarily have to go above and beyond to teach them.
Below, McRory Pediatric Services, Inc. explains how parents can help special needs kids make healthy choices:
Start by setting expectations
If you want your kids to make healthy choices, get them on board with the idea first. Sit them down and talk about the importance of making healthy choices – like it could make them financially successful, help build good relationships, and have a good life. You can talk about what good choices look like (prioritizing your health and studies, for example), and that you’d like to see them try. Kohl’s Building Blocks explains the importance of setting expectations.
Making nutrition a priority
The food your kids eat is very important – healthy food is essential for their cognitive as well as all-around development. If you haven’t already, encourage your child to make healthier food choices. Even small changes are effective. Instead of grading a bag of chips or soda during the day, for example, encourage them to consume a piece of fruit, nuts, or a smoothie. This will reduce hunger as well as give them energy.
Having kids exercise every other day, if not every day, is crucial for their development and long-term health. Special needs kids can participate in most exercise activities and sports with a little adjustment. You can encourage your kids to pick up a sport, practice some activity, or go out in nature more often. Some exercises that are suited to kids with special needs are adaptive bike riding, wheelchair sports, dance, gymnastics, and deaf sports.
The modern lifestyle can be incredibly stressful, even for young kids. Kids with special needs may have an especially difficult time adjusting, which may cause even more stress than normal. As such, educate your kids on the importance of stressbusting. You can teach them to manage stress in several ways – breathing exercises, nature walks, taking breaks, being mindful, and thinking positively.
Teach them to appreciate themselves
Kids need to be taught to appreciate themselves – especially if they have special needs that take some getting used to. Such children often struggle with self-esteem issues that may make it hard for them to function. By teaching kids’ self-appreciation, you can bolster their self-esteem and let them know it’s okay to put themselves (and their needs) first.
Set a good example with your life
With kids, it’s do what you say, not say what you do. If you want to teach them healthy choices, you have to make healthy choices in your life yourself. Your kids will learn from your experiences and choices, and model themselves after you. For example, it’s never too early to put them on the path to future career success. If you model pursuing your career dreams for them, they are more likely to pursue their dreams too.
Of course, career success isn’t always easy to attain and may require you to get a higher education. You could get a bachelor’s degree online, which would give you the flexibility to pursue your dreams while managing your responsibilities toward your kids. For example, earning an online degree in IT will teach you information technology, data analytics, and cybersecurity, which are in demand with employers. Your kids would benefit from the example you set. Here are the procedures for a bachelor of information technology degree.
Get professional help
Being a parent is hard work, and often overwhelming. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone – there are plenty of educational resources out there that can guide you on how best to teach your children and help them make better choices. McRory Pediatric Services, Inc. offers professional service programs that you may find useful – individual child services, group programs for children, and parent services.
Teaching your kids healthy choices could take years – and that’s okay. You can teach them slowly, giving them more advanced lessons as they age. The most effective way to teach them would be to make healthy choices yourself. Your kids will see you make good choices and attempt to do the same.
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