A Wellness Approach for Children
Being well is a natural, normal state. We can teach and help our children grow up with an attitude of wellness: that they can have control over their own bodies and how healthy they will be.
Children can learn that negative, unhealthy lifestyles are choices that contribute to sickness. Eating healthy foods will give them more energy and help them feel better. Enjoying fun exercise will keep their bodies strong and help reduce stress.
If children are raised with a respectful attitude of wellness, as they get older they will most likely choose to turn down things that they know are not healthy, such as junk food, cigarettes, and drugs.
Parents often make statements that reinforce a sickness attitude. Yet when parents make frequent trips to the doctor, requesting medications for everyday aches and pains and common ailments such as colds, they teach children that there is a drug for every malady, for every age, and that the doctor is part of every cure.
In traditional medical training, doctors are not taught to wait and see if things get better. They are not taught to have faith in the body's amazing ability to heal itself. Rather, physicians are taught to rely on expensive and dangerous tests and drugs, such as antibiotics, cold medications, and fever reducers, most of which interrupt the natural healing process and often make the patient's condition worse in the long run.
As a pediatrician who advocates maintaining health through prevention of disease, I have used the opportunity of doctor visits to encourage and educate children. They need to know that they are in charge of their own health. Issues of eating, exercise and lifestyle are discussed with very young children at their level of understanding, and this continues through adolescence.
As parents, you can be a positive role model for children. Your behavior with regard to diet and exercise will influence your child. Instead of saying "lose weight" or "exercise", say "Let's be healthy and start taking care of our bodies". Supply wholesome, nutritious food, and a safe environment for fun activities. A commitment to good health today will engender a lifetime of benefits for your family.