Rare is the children’s book where every character is less than the picture of good health. Like talking animals, it is a magical part of a child’s world to believe that good health is a given. Depending on their circumstances, they may not even realize there is an alternative.
From time to time, a child may learn of a classmate’s illness or even tragic death. But those realities are never connected with the concept of poor health. They are always some inexplicable tragedy not tied to any actions taken or not taken int the real world.
Kids do not realize the value of good teeth, strong bones, moderate weight, and lots of energy to burn. They don’t understand that these things are connected to actions that we take or don’t take every day.
The first lesson they have to learn is that these things are not givens, but are contingent on our behavior. What they have can and will be lost if not treated with care. Here are a few other lessons parents need to teach their kids about health:
Teeth Don’t Just Take Care of Themselves
Teeth are high-maintenance body parts. Even when we do everything in our power to keep them clean and healthy, things will sometimes go wrong. We cannot avoid dentists any more than we can avoid other doctors. At some point in our lives, we will have to go see one. And that should not be considered a bad thing.
Unfortunately, going to the dentist feels a lot like a punishment. It is scary, noisy, often painful, and downright uncomfortable. Provo dentists are doing everything in their power to change this perception. This change is taking place in dentist offices all over the country and around the world.
The conversation that parents need to have with their children is that teeth don’t take care of themselves. One does not take care of one’s teeth to avoid the dentist. One does so because healthy teeth are important.
Kids also should be shown examples of unhealthy teeth. It is not the dentist they want to avoid, but unattractive, painful, and missing teeth. As a parent, you won’t have to worry as much about candy if you teach the fundamentals of healthy teeth.
Not Everything that Tastes Good Is Good
Children learn with their five senses. Taste is one of the most compelling of the senses. We learn to associate taste with quality. If it tastes good, it is good. And if it initially tastes bad, it is to be avoided. However, as parents, we know that taste is one of the worst indicators of usefulness.
What we do know is that sugar and salt are things that make things taste good to us. Sugar and salt occur naturally. That means that it is not enough to eat what is natural. This is especially true with things marketed as all natural in the grocery store. In some cases, fruit juice is worse than a sugary drink.
Initially, vegetables may not taste very good. As parents, you have to fight the urge to soak them in butter, melt them in cheese, or drown them in ranch dressing. Kids need to learn that taste is not the path to nutritional truth. Taste is also cultural. So raise them in a culture of health so that health is delicious.
Gaming Is Not Something You Do on a Computer
In this age of mind-blowing AR/VR possibilities, it will be tougher than ever to tear the kids away from the computer. What they need to understand is that gaming is not something that happens on a screen. It happens on a playground.
The world is a physical place. And kids need to be physically adapted to it. They have to learn how to safely fall and tumble without breaking bones. They need to value walking to places as opposed to riding in a car everywhere they go.
At the end of the day, good health is about fighting our first instinct and advancing to something more productive. Healthy teeth take constant effort. Taste is an unreliable guide to what is good. And physical activity is better than passive entertainment. These are the lessons that lead to a healthier future.