August 30, 2009

Happy, Healthy, Well-Adjusted Children

Now that your children are back in school how has your family adjusted to their new routine? After a restful summer where schedules are often not as rigid as they are during the school year, it can be challenging to get everyone back on track. I'd like to suggest some things you can do to make your family routine less stressful.

Have a family calendar posted in a prominent place where everyone, even the youngest members of the family, can see it. Use a different colored pen to mark each person's schedule so you can tell at a glance who has a dentist appointment or picture day at school tomorrow. It's helpful to take a few minutes on Sunday evening to remind everyone of the upcoming events for the next week. That way when someone forgets it doesn't fall on mom or dad's shoulders. It teaches children to be responsible for their own schedule and hopefully they have a planner in their backpacks or in their rooms where they too can keep track of their activities.

Plan healthy meals and snacks. Children function better when they have a well-balanced diet. Include them in meal planning and preparation. Children are much more likely to eat foods they've helped prepare. You might even make an adventure of trying one new fruit or vegetable each week. There are so many varieties available that you can pick up a new one on your weekly grocery shopping trip. Don't forget to clip and use coupons to help control the cost of your food budget. Have your family clip the coupons from the Sunday paper and put them in charge of them when you shop.

Make sure your children are getting enough sleep. Many parents are not aware of how much sleep children require. Children who are irritable, overreact, have difficulty concentrating and wake often during the night may be sleep deprived. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following number of hours of sleep in a 24 hour period (naps are included):

Between Birth-Six Months, children need 16-20 hours
Between Six-Twelve Months, children need 14-15 hours
Between Ages 1-3, children need 10-13 hours
Between Ages 3-10, children need 10-12 hours
Between Ages 11-12, children need about 10 hours
Teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep per night

Getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and having a home with a predictable routine is a good foundation for raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted children.

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