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    Healthy Habits, Happy Kids: Helping Them SOAR

    Somewhere along the line, kids have lost some of their childhood. We’ve taken it from them through our accelerated culture. We’ve overshadowed it by adult concerns and worries. Through a long line of stress-induced choices, we keep putting their childhood on hold. The sum of our daily decisions can add up to a childhood compromised or lost. That certainly isn’t our intent as parents, but it’s becoming a common outcome.

    Changes in our culture and society have negatively impacted the health and well-being of kids today. Our kids are more stressed, less connected, more busy, and less active than we were growing up. As parents, we see this but feel at a loss to know how to regain control over our own frenetic lifestyles and return a healthy, balanced childhood to our kids.

    Concerned with our own weight we worry over the physical health of our kids, as childhood weight gain and obesity levels begin to mirror adult epidemic proportions. Caught between the dangers of unhealthy weight on one hand and the dangers of unhealthy attitudes about weight, food, and body image on the other, parents are left struggling.

    We want to help but don’t know how. Sometimes what you do to try to help just ends up making the whole situation worse. So you do nothing, out of fear; which provides no solution at all.

    But we must provide a solution!

    Our kids are being weighed down not just with extra pounds but with conditions and concerns long thought to be strictly associated with adulthood and advancing age: hypertension, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, anxiety, and stress. Given these realities, we want our children to lose weight and live healthy and happy lives.

    Helping Kids SOAR

    The secret to healthy kids can be found through a whole-person approach to the needs of your child. Each child is more than he or she weighs. Each is a compilation of preferences, personality, genetics, and family patterns. In society today, appearance takes center stage, but a thin child is not necessarily a happy child. By addressing the emotional, relational, physical and spiritual needs of children, parents are able to provide a balanced, caring environment that contributes to lifelong happiness and health.

    I call this helping a child SOAR. As parents, we must strive to allow our children to grow up in an environment where they are:

    Supported — provided intentional guidance, direction, and nurturing

    Optimistic — assured of a bright hope and future ahead for them as they grow

    Active and Achieving — finding success in their personal and family endeavors and in active, energetic pursuits

    Responsible — understanding and accepting their own part in healthy living and choices

    When children grow up with this framework, they are truly able to SOAR through a healthy, happy childhood and into a productive, vital adulthood.

    Next Wednesday — Helping your child SOAR emotionally

    SOURCE: Introduction to Healthy Habits, Healthy Kid: A Practical Plan to Help Your Family by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.

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