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Five simple tips for happy, healthy kids

17 Oct 2018

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Five simple tips to help your kids live healthy lives:

1. Reduce their sugar intake

Having a packet of chocolate biscuits or lollies lurking in the kitchen cupboard is often just too much temptation for kids (and, let’s face it, some adults) to resist. Habits and attitudes to food that are absorbed now are very likely to sustain throughout a lifetime, so make sure that the snacking options in your home lean towards the healthy, the natural and the nutritious. This doesn’t mean banning sweet treats altogether, but it does mean establishing a clear balance between what is an “every day food” and what is an “every now and again treat”.

2. Find their exercise sweet spot

Exercise is easier, more enjoyable and, as a result, more likely to become an enduring part of your children’s lives if it’s fun. So focus on helping them find the activity or activities that work for them.

Whether that involves taking part in a team sport where friendly bonds are formed or running their own race in individual pursuits like athletics, mountain biking or skateboarding, any exercise that gets them away from a screen and out in the fresh air with you or their friends has to be a good thing.

The simplest way to find the sport that suits them is to try lots of different things early on. There will be plenty of time for focused competitiveness later, if that’s their inclination, but in the meantime try everything, encourage them to have fun and just see where it takes them.

3. Eat dinner as a family

Aside from the very fulfilling sense of unity that it creates, sitting down for a family meal together is also a great opportunity to guide your children’s eating behaviours and iron out any issues before they become problematic. Studies have shown that children and adolescents who share at least three family meals per week are more likely to be a healthy weight and less likely to have disordered eating than those who share mealtimes less frequently.

Along with its health benefits, a shared family meal is also the perfect time, within the supportive environment of your home, to establish positive protocols around things like manners, sharing and contributing in group situations.

4. Harness the power of positive sleep

Sleep is one of the most effective ways known to allow mind and body to repair, recharge and revitalise themselves. In fact, in the overall scheme of things, sleep is no less important than food, water and safety in the lives of children.

Make establishing a healthy sleep regime a fundamental part of your parenting. This involves creating a consistent routine - a bath, a story, brushing their teeth - in the lead-up to bedtime and ensuring that the room itself is quiet, warm and as dark as is comfortable for the child.

Avoid screen time or overly energetic activity in the time immediately before bed and limit food in the two hours prior to a light snack at most.

5. Brush up on dental care

It’s a staggering statistic, but it’s true. Tooth decay is a significant problem, with almost half our children having cavities by the time they reach five years of age. When you consider just how central oral health can be to general wellbeing (with poor oral health linked to major chronic diseases), it’s all the more concerning.

Set your children on the right path by brushing your teeth at the same time as they brush theirs, twice a day, to set a pattern for life. Beyond the oral health benefits, it’s also a good moment, much like dinnertime, to connect, talk through their day and address any little worries or issues they may be encountering. Start and end your day together by interacting with each other and both you and your children will benefit.

Of course, life being the way it is and kids being as they are, illness and accidents will always happen. There’s no way to protect against that. What you can do, however, is ensure that no matter what unexpected events arise, you’re prepared for recovery with adequate health insurance.

Health insurance, from a reputable provider like nib, can cover you and your family for a wide range of medical services - hospital stays, specialist consultations, GP visits, optical, dental.

It’s valuable peace of mind and an investment in your family’s future. Why not see what it covers and if it’s right for you?

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Important things to know

Information correct as at October 2018.