By George M. Graham Jr.
In a previous article I wrote “When we are dealing with any of life’s challenges, we should strive to maintain a positive mental attitude, with high expectations—see it big. Additionally, we must keep in mind that in order to achieve any worthy goal, we must take one step at a time to accomplish it—keep it simple.”
I also talked about utilizing what I call positive, practical practices in order to help address basic wants and needs in helping individuals to be successful. Mastering these positive, practical practices sets the foundation for us to build upon in order to improve ourselves.
In my last article, we began looking at some of the positive, practical practices that parents can incorporate with their children in helping them to be successful in all domains of life. This article will continue to explore some of these practices that are foundational.
An important positive, practical practice is to ensure children are getting a nutritious, healthy diet. It is imperative that children get the proper foods that will help their minds and bodies grow and develop! Children will benefit from eating healthy foods such as fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, fish and fish oil (those with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids), and nuts and seeds, just to name a few.
There are those who recommend that whenever possible, it is best to endeavor to purchase organic foods. This is another topic where there are differences of opinion. However, there is indication that the chemicals that are used to deter insects from attacking fruits and vegetables as they grow, could have a negative impact on our bodies. There is evidence that toxic chemicals affect the central nervous system which includes the brain.
There is a strong indication that sugar, processed foods, and preservatives can have a negative impact on your child’s physical and mental health. Research documents the effects of sugar on children’s behaviors. Parents should consider removing, or at least cutting back on sodas, candy, cakes and other processed foods that may have a lot of chemical preservatives.
Diet does have a very strong impact on the brain and other bodily functions. Again, the research documents that some children will develop allergies to food additives which can cause allergic reactions like hyperactivity, difficulty in concentrating, and difficulty in staying focused. These are just a few of the possible symptoms that can develop from toxins, chemical preservatives, and food dyes.
While we are on the topic of healthy diet, I would like to point out the importance of drinking water as well. Water plays a major part in all of our body’s functions. When we are appropriately hydrated, we think more clearly, we are better able to fight off sickness, and our body’s systems can function more properly. Research on the brain indicates that one thing that can help students to perform better on testing is to hydrate the brain. Drink plenty of water!
Unfortunately, students with disabilities often suffer from low self-esteem. Another positive, practical practice is that of helping your child to develop a healthy self-esteem. Children need to know that they are loved and accepted just as they are. They need to know that they have within them everything they need to be successful.
Parents should teach their children to think positive thoughts about who they are and what they can be. One of the best things that children can do for themselves is to develop a positive mental attitude. Parents can help their child to do this by first setting a good example by the way they act, speak, and live. By setting a good example, children will have a role model to follow. If a parent has any doubts that their child does watch and listen to their example, I recommend that they take time to observe how their child walks, talks, and acts. It can be a real “eye-opener."
One way parents can help build their child’s self-esteem is to never be critical of the child and never be sarcastic towards their child. Criticism and sarcasm will only hurt and destroy a child’s self-esteem. Also, do not try to compare them to someone else, especially their brother, sister, or another neighbor’s child. Each child is an individual. God did not make us to all be the same! Being different is what makes each of us unique and special.
Children need to feel good about themselves and who they are. They need approval and support from their parents. Wrap your every thought, action, and word in love for your children. When they see it, hear it, and feel it, they will experience your love, approval, and support.
When you take time to think about and compare the lifestyle of today’s families to that of families of 25 to 30 years ago, there are certainly many amazing differences. One of those differences is that children today are surrounded by multi-media to include such things as computers, cell phones, video games, e-mail, texting, and multiple televisions in the home.
Of course there are advantages to having availability to many of these different technologies. Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages as well. One disadvantage is that children today are not getting outdoors and getting the benefits of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. As a consequence there is a national trend towards obesity, and part of this is due to our sedentary lifestyles and not getting sufficient exercise.
Therefore, another positive, practical practice that parents can employ with their children is to ensure they are taking time to enjoy the outdoors and getting exercise on a consistent basis. Exercise helps to build strength, endurance, and flexibility. It promotes and develops gross motor and fine motor skills. It helps the blood to circulate throughout the body by taking much needed oxygen to the brain.
Not only does exercise help to make you healthier physically, but also it contributes to being healthier mentally and emotionally. Exercise can provide relief for built up stress, frustration, or even anger. It is amazing how a brief walk out in nature has a way of soothing the soul.
In bringing this article to a close, I would like to share one more positive, practical practice that parents can utilize to help their child. The importance of children having the opportunity to socialize and interact with other children, as well as adults, cannot be overemphasized enough. Children need this interaction in order to be able to develop appropriate social skills.
This can be accomplished easily enough by getting the child involved and participating in community programs, team sports, scouting, or through activities at a local church. Children, just like adults, need attention and need to be recognized. Being accepted by others outside of the family can help to provide children with what they need to develop self-confidence and appropriate social skills that they will utilize the rest of their lives.
These are just a few of the positive, practical practices that parents can implement with their children. Certainly there are many more that can be helpful as well. It is my hope that these suggestions will be helpful, even if it’s just for the purpose of stimulating the thinking process.