Even if you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you can give your kids these two lifetime advantages.
You have big dreams for your kids. You want them to have the things you didn’t have when you were growing up. You want them to be happy, healthy, and successful.
You can give your children a ticket to a rich life, and you don’t have to be from a wealthy family to do it. You also don’t have to obsess over the best preschool, designer clothes, or an obscene number of toys and gadgets.
The two tips I’ll cover here don’t often make the lists of trendy success tips, but ignoring these crucial foundational basics is like trying to drive a fancy car with no gasoline in it.
2 steps to give your kids an advantage in life:
#1 The food you give them is building their brains and bodies. Make it good.
Americans are failing miserably in this department. Fad diets come and go, but few people understand the basics of nutrition and how it serves as the foundation for a healthy body and a healthy brain.
The state of the American diet has plummeted to the degree that it’s now considered to be a threat to our national security.
The food you feed your child, beginning in the womb, provides the building blocks for its developing organs and systems.
Think about this: The human brain is 60% fat. All fats in the diet are not the same when it comes to growing a healthy brain. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), particularly the Omega-3 fatty acids, are crucial for healthy brain development and ongoing brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fresh cold water fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardings, as well as in nuts and seeds, and plant oils.
We’re in trouble: More than 25% of young children don’t eat a single vegetable on a given day, and the #1 “vegetable” of US toddlers is french fries.
If you want to give your children the best chance at healthy and successful lives, pay attention to the food you serve them.
An entire post could be written about each of these suggestions, but here’s a start:
✔️Breastfeed your babies, even if the most you can do is a short time.
✔️Give more of the foods that are found in nature and fewer pre-made, and packaged foods.
✔️Serve fruits and vegetable with every meal and as snacks.
✔️Include nuts, beans, and legumes in their diet.
✔️Give more water and fewer sweetened beverages like soda, sports drinks, fruit punch, and juice boxes. Limit natural juices as well, as they’re full of sugar. A belly full of sugar isn’t hungry for real food.
✔️Give more whole grains and fewer “white” and processed grains. Cut out crackers, cookies, chips, and packaged snack foods.
✔️Offer variety early and repeatedly. If your toddler refuses broccoli one day, it doesn’t meant they’re refuse it forever. Kids are naturally curious. Keep giving them variety, and don’t make a big deal over it.
I never force a child to finish what’s on their plate, but that’s not an excuse to allow eating whatever they want. An age/size appropriate vegetable has to be eaten or there’s no snacking and no dessert. Picky eaters are created by the caregiver. Tighten up your own standards and your kids will follow.
#2 Expose them to a variety of exercises.
Kids bodies and brains grow at a rapid rate. The brain and body have an intricate communication and feedback system. A healthy brain needs a healthy body, and a healthy body needs a healthy brain.
It’s common today to funnel a child to be hyper-involved in a single sport. It may be in hope of a college scholarship or fame, but its focus is short sighted.
The most resilient brains and bodies develop from variety. Think of a tree that’s exposed to strong winds that only come from one direction versus a tree that learns to stand up to winds from all directions.
✔️Expose your kids to sports and activities that engage the muscles in multiple ways. Games, activities, and sports that incorporate balance, speed, and endurance give the brain and body a complex workout. Things like gymnastics, dance, and skating.
✔️At the beginning, the child’s exercise should simply be playing: things like running, jumping, tumbling, and throwing.
✔️Limit activities that involve prolonged sitting like video games, television, and computers.
Being physically active not only builds a stronger and fitter body, it builds mental health as well. Exercise reduces anxiety and depression. It enhances self esteem.
Expose your kids to a variety of athletic endeavors, and they’ll have those skills for a lifetime. If you want to learn a new sport as an adult, you can do that if you built those mind-body nerve pathways as a kid.
Getting back to the basics.
Parenthood is a wild ride. The time goes quickly, your focus is spread thin, you wonder if you’re doing it right or messing it all up.
The good news is, when you focus on the basics, you can have more confidence that the details will fall into place. Don’t let the whirlwind around you pull you away from the 2 basics talked about here.
Help your kids grow the healthiest minds and bodies they can. It’s an advantage that will last them a lifetime.