Learning their ABCs and their 123s is not the only education our kids need. Equally important is a focus on good health in body and in mind. We asked family coach and founder of Parent Like You, Kirsty Foster, to share her expertise in helping kids develop valuable life skills. She suggests the best thing you can do as a parent to support your child’s health is to initiate conversations. “Talk openly about health and wellbeing,” Kirsty says. “What does healthy look like, feel like? What are things that we can do to keep our body and mind healthy? These conversations are immensely important.”
How to Manage the Big Emotions
Understanding and supporting their mental health is an essential life skill for kids. A healthy mind allows us to deal with life’s challenges and form positive relationships with others. When children are young, big emotions like anger and fear can be overwhelming: kids often overreact to minor things, they throw tantrums and experience emotional outbursts. This is all normal, Kirsty says, and rather than dishing out punishment, try to show empathy and kindness when a child is negotiating a big feeling. “Once they are calm, talk about the experience. Help them find the words for what they were feeling,” she says. “It's all about acknowledging the emotion, and coaching them on how to manage feelings in a safe or appropriate way in the future.”
A smart way to kickstart these discussions is by using wall charts, placemats, workbooks and flashcards centred on understanding emotions. Using these products in a living or learning space allows kids to really engage with, and put a name to, their emotions. Kids can recognise the facial expressions associated with feeling happy, sad or angry. Once they understand their own emotions, they can better relate to the feelings of friends and family too. “Flash cards can be useful for providing the word and the visual to go with the emotion,” says Kirsty. “You could use these with young children, or non-verbal children, as part of a conversation when debriefing an emotional experience.” Placemats, workbooks or wall charts can also prompt discussions around feelings and help kids come up with strategies for managing them.
What To Try
- Learning Can Be Fun Write & Wipe Emotions Workbook
- Learning Can Be Fun Double Sided Wall Chart My Emotions
- Kadink Large Flashcards 30 Pack Emotions
- Kadink Wall Chart Emotions
SEE ALSO: How to Help Kids Manage Stress
Looking After Their Bodies
Understanding the basics of being healthy is another important life skill for kids. A good place to start is encouraging healthy choices. “Be open and honest about food and why we eat it. Tell them about foods that are good for our bodies,” Kirsty suggests. “Involve them in the shopping and preparation for meals and use this time to talk about different types of food.”
Lay strong foundations for healthy body image by talking about your own body with love and respect. Surround your kids with examples of healthy bodies in different shapes and sizes, and focus on what these bodies can do rather than what they look like. The Kadink My Body Wall Chart can be used to teach kids about various body parts, what they’re called and what they can do. Use this type of chart to initiate conversations and make connections so that kids learn about their bodies, and understand why they need to keep active and eat healthy foods.
Wall charts, placemats and workbooks are handy tools you can use to impart the healthy eating message. These provide visual cues, with cute illustrations and colour-coded categories, to explain the sorts of foods we should be eating, and why they’re so good for us. It’s also a great idea to engage in imaginative play where healthy food is front and centre – open a pretend shop or cafe, and get little ones to serve up wooden fruit and veggies.
What To Try
- Kadink Wall Chart My Body
- Learning Can Be Fun Healthy Eating Double-sided Chart
- Kadink Wooden Fruit and Vegetable Pack
- Kadink Workbook 48 Pages Health & Wellbeing
Wellbeing When Times Are Tough
The wellbeing of our kids should always be a priority, but even more so during times of stress and uncertainty. When we’re struggling, whether it’s due to family issues or a global pandemic, we need sleep, regular exercise and nutritious foods to support our taxed immune systems.
Mental health is particularly important in tough times, and we need to make management of this a priority. Arrange time for kids to see friends and family, even if this is over a video call. Take some time out to be silly and engage in fun feel-good things, like a lounge room dance party or a walk to buy ice cream.
“We need to be honest and talk about how we are feeling, and what we are doing to look after ourselves,” Kirsty says. “Explain that it's okay not to feel okay. But let's put plans in place to do things that make us happy, find things to be grateful for and do things that help others.”