The physical and mental development of children are very important for their wholesome well being. In todays competitive world, children are bogged down with so much study and competition that there is not enough time to play or for other extra curricular activities. We concentrate only on their academic excellence and tend to neglect other areas. The immediate need of the hour for children is a strong body and a stronger mind. Here we will look at ways to cater to all aspects of the growth of a child.
Importance of developing a strong body in children:
Developing a strong body is essential not only for adults but also for children. A strong body is an indicator of good eating habits, physical activity and good health. Fitness was always associated with the adults and not children. It was considered normal for children to be plump and that they could get fit when they were older. But it is very important to instil the value of physical fitness in children as it will lay foundations for a healthy lifestyle.
Some benefits of physical activity in children
- Builds stronger muscles and bones and overall physical strength
- Develops a healthy heart and lungs
- Builds a strong immune system and lowest the risk of several diseases and health problems
- Improves balance, coordination and flexibility
- Improves blood circulation
- Helps children sleep better at night
- Helps them concentrate better in school and get better grades
- Overall physical activity increases the confidence and self esteem of children. It gives them more energy and makes them feel good about themselves
Ways to improve physical activity or fitness in children
Nowadays, kids are becoming sedentary with many options of entertainment available in the form of video games, internet and television. It is challenging for parents to get their kids moving and physically active. Some things that parents can do to improve the physical activity in children are as follows:
- Engage children in a number of age appropriate activities. For example, take them swimming. Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular exercise. Children tend to learn swimming faster, so it would be good to teach them to swim early on life.
- Introduce them to structured activities like sports and unstructured activities like play
- Involve them in household chores. For example, ask them to set the table for dinner or clean up their room
- Limit their screen time i.e. the time they spend playing video games or watching videos
- Instil healthy eating habits. Limit the amount of junk food they have and get them to taste different types of healthy food
- Set an example by being an active parent yourself
- Go for walks together. Not only are you exercising but you can use this time to bond with your child
The importance of developing a strong mind in children.
Children face a lot of challenges as they grow up and it requires a string mind to face them. In today’s success driven world, competition is intense and the need for the child to keep up with their peers is very high. Therefore, it is very important develop mental strength in children as it enables them feel confident to face any challenge of the world.
Some of the benefits of developing a strong mind in children are:
- It equips them to deal with problems, cope with difficulties and bounce back from failure
- It helps children gain self-acceptance confidence. It enables them to enjoy life and look at hardships as opportunities to grow
- It also helps children perform well in school. Having a strong mind will keep them focused on the things that matter and away from all distractions
- A strong mind will enable children to process their thoughts and emotions well, especially in the face of unpleasant circumstances, and in turn behave productively
Ways to build a strong mind in children
The home is the primary place where the mental skills of a child are nurtured. The earlier parents start building the mental strength of their children, the sooner they will be equipped to face the challenges of the real world. Developing mental strength is based on applying three main principles, which are
- Replace your negative thoughts with practical thoughts
- Be in control of your emotions rather than be controlled by your emotions
- Take a positive constructive action, even when circumstances are unfavourable
Here are some of the ways in which parents can apply these principles to develop a strong mind:
Teach important life coping skills through discipline.
When children make mistakes, generally parents punish them and make them suffer. However, the right thing to do would be to discipline children by telling them that there will be consequences for their actions. This will help them to develop self-discipline so that they learn to make better decisions in future. Parents can also use this opportunity constructively to teach them important skills for life like problem-solving skills and controlling their impulse.
Allow children to make mistakes and learn.
Parents should allow children to make mistakes on their own and not be over protective, as it teaches them valuable lessons. Allow children to face the consequences of their mistakes and learn from them. Parents should also assure their children that it is natural to make mistakes and that there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Keep children away from negativity.
Children are exposed to a lot of bullying, comparisons and ridicule in school or among their peer groups. They may battle with self-doubt and a lot of negative doubts. Hence it is very important for parents to teach their kids how to cope with negative thoughts. They should encourage children to think realistically and positively. Instead of thinking they can’t, they should think that with hard work they can do it.
Encourage children to face their fears.
It is important to encourage children to face their fears no matter what it is. Help them make small steps and assure them that they are not alone. Uplift them and laud their efforts to face their fears. This will give them the confidence to face any circumstances outside their comfort zone.
5. Teach children to manage their emotions.
Parents generally are very protective of their child’s feelings and try to protect them from any negative emotions. This will only let children live in denial. Therefore parents should teach children to identify their emotions and help them understand how their decisions are influenced by their emotions and that they have choice in how to deal with their emotions. Children who can deal with their emotions are better equipped to face the world.
Teach children to take responsibility of their actions.
One of the aspects of developing metal strength is the ability to take responsibility for ones actions. Parents need to instil this trait in children by allowing them to give explanation for their actions and not blame others and give excuses.
Lead by example.
The best way parents can teach children about mental strength is to be role model. Setting an example of mental strength in their own life is more effective than just talking about it. Parents can also discuss the challenges they are face and the steps they take to gain mental strength. This will greatly encourage children to develop a strong mind.
Developing both a strong body and a stronger mind are very essential for children to reach their full potential and be the best they can in life. A fit and strong body will ensure that the child has the energy and rigour required to take on challenges of life. A stronger mind is equally if not more important because it is the ‘will’ that controls all desires, even the desire to develop a strong body and stay fit.
A mind can be ones biggest asset or worst enemy. When we learn how to train it well, we can accomplish incredible feats.
Good luck and happy parenting!