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Healthy Children
Photo: Pavel Losevsky
“Mom, what's for dinner?” asked ten-year-old Lanny. “Oh, you will be happily surprised,” replied Sarah Bailey, Lanny's mother.

Sarah recognizes the vital importance of balanced tasty meals for her husband and three growing children. She attributes their good health—they are seldom ill—to carefully planned meals. She follows the “Food Pyramid” emphasizing fruits, grains, nuts, and vegetables. She discovered, some years ago, that when they cut way down on sugar, colds practically disappeared. Yes, she does serve desserts for the evening meal, but it is usually fruit creatively prepared with non-dairy whipped topping. Occasionally, she serves yogurt and fruit. (Of course, there are special occasions when she serves fruit pie with ice cream—usually on Sabbath when there are guests.)

She always insists that the children, ages 7, 10, and 13, eat a good, solid breakfast. Whole grain cereal with low fat milk, toast, and fruit. The children seem to be content with their diet. When they were small she made up stories about the “good soldiers” (white cells) that God placed in our blood to fight the “bad guys” (germs and viruses). Nutritious food helps white cells to fight disease. Junk food is very rarely served. “Potato chips are fine,” says Sarah, “on special occasions like picnics.” Sarah serves meals on time and discourages eating between meals.

Outdoor Exercise. The Baileys enjoy outdoor exercise and their children enjoy it too. This habit has life-long benefits. So they provided weight-lifting equipment, bicycles, volley balls, a basket ball and hoop, etc. The kids are enjoying jogging with Dad and Mom. The Baileys often work outside with the children—weeding, mowing the lawn, washing the car, gardening, etc. And, of course, they drink lots of water.

Most Beneficial Medicine

Exercise should come before school homework. There should be a balance between mental and physical development. “If exercise could be packeted in a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.” says the National Institute on Aging.

Sleep. Millions of Americans do not get adequate sleep. Chronic fatigue takes its toll on dispositions and on our immune systems. We tend to cram too much into twenty-four hours and sleep is often crowded out. And TV is probably the greatest thief of sleep. Of course, sleep needs vary with age. Dr. Richard Ferber, a pediatrician, gives these guidelines: “Children under 1: 13 ¾  to 16 ½ hours, including naps. Toddlers, (age 1 to 3): 12 to 13 ¾ hours...with one daytime nap. Preschoolers, (age 4 to 6): 10 ¾ to 11 ½ hours with no naps. Grade schoolers, (age 6 to 12): 9 ¼ to 10 ¾ hours a night.” (Redbook, Aug. 1993)

Dr. Barton Schmitt says, “As long as children wake up feeling refreshed, it doesn't matter if they've slept for nine or fourteen hours.” By age four, most children don't nap at all. But since every child is different, observe your toddler's behavior.

Control bedtime ritual. Children put off going to bed. Be firm, but loving. Have a set time for bedtime and stick to it. Bedtime routines such as: baths, changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, reading a story, or just talking with you—will also help children make a transition from day to night, says Judith Zimmer. She further says, “Don't deprive your toddler...of his favorite toy or blanket. Your child can't bring you to bed” so a blanket is a good substitute. (Adapted from Redbook, Aug. 1993.)

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By Charles H. Betz. Portions reprinted with persmission from Successful Parenting Postscripts, Vol. 4, No. 5. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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