Every year in January I host an open house for families at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. It's an opportunity for families to learn more about role that naturopathic medicine can play in their child(ren)'s health and well-being. The educational/preventative/individualized approach of naturopathic medicine makes it a great fit for families that are looking to optimize their kids health long-term. Come see us (and pass it on!)!!
Two years ago, the Epoch Times came to our event and interviewed me on why pediatric health is so important. More and more evidence is emerging that convincingly tells us that the most significant causes of disease and death throughout the lifespan have their origins in childhood. Nutrition, physical activity levels, stress, chemical exposure, social factors ... all have reverberating effects, some even into the next generation. Some factors are more changeable than others - socioeconomic position may be less modifiable than parental smoking, which may be less modifiable than individual activity levels. However, all can have inter-related impacts on the health and well-being of children both in the short and long term.
Parents and caregivers all want what is best for their child(ren). We all do the best we can with whatever resources we have available to us. And sometimes small pieces of information can create significant "aha!" impacts. With our modern pace of life and conflicting demands, it can be so difficult to tune into one's intuition as a parent, to be intentional about the opportunities for our children in the moment to moment.
Some of my most grounding considerations when I parent my own children:
1. Be warm and responsive, yet firm.
This isn't always easy. I lose my sh*t as much as anyone. But study after study tells us that kids are more likely to have a healthy self esteem and less likely to engage in risky behaviours when they report parenting that is firm and loving. I try hard to empathize with my kids' feelings, work with them to problem solve, and stick hard to my non-negotiables.
2. Encourage my children to be active every day ... and set an example myself.
Canada scores poorly when it comes to physical activity in kids. Adults don't do any better. And yet we know that physical activity is pretty much a panacea. I know I feel better when I move regularly - the physical and emotional benefits are immediately obvious. I also know that kids who are active and fit are healthier in the long term ... and are more likely to be active and fit when their parents are.
3. Insist on healthy food options.
It can be so much easier to cave to convenience foods and my kids' likes and dislikes. But insisting on made-from-scratch, diverse, fruit-and-vegetable-rich meals and snacks benefit everyone (with certainly the occasional indulgence). So I talk to my kids about the benefits of eating healthy food, teach them age-appropriate basics of nutrition, encourage them to participate in the planning and preparing of food - and while they may think I'm the biggest, baddest mom in the world right now, I'm trusting that eventually they'll prefer the healthier options.
4. Keep it simple.
Kids need very little, really. Healthy food, loving, present caregivers, opportunities to be outside, to play, to move their bodies. We're continuously told otherwise by advertisers and media ... peer pressure too. They don't need the latest gadget. They're not going to be destroyed if they don't play the video game of the moment. In a similar way, they're not going to be ruined if we're not perfect parents. I find myself starting again, over and over. Reminding myself of what's most important to my family, reflecting on my core values.
What are some of the reminders you give yourself in your parenting?