The ABCs of Raising a Healthy Kid-Part 3

the abcs of raising a healthy kid

Today we continue in our 5 day series – The ABCs of Raising a Healthy Kid.  This series is great for giving parents important pointers in how to raise kids.  Today I am sharing K-O.

If you missed any of the series click on the button above to see all the posts in the series!
K is for kids. Let your children actually be kids!  The many pressures and responsibilities of life will come soon enough, allow them to take the time to enjoy these years of play, wonder, safety, and freedom!

Did you know research suggests children’s environments and experiences — especially during the first three years — strongly influence their long-term development!

So why is play so great?August 2011 207

  • Through play, children are able to express their feelings and emotions, like anger, love and joy.
  • Through play, children learn! This happens both through structured play & free play as children explore cause & effect and other elementary principles.
  • Through play, children develop self-esteem and social skills, including sharing, turn-taking, and developing friendships
  • Through play, children increases their social abilities with parents, siblings, and in play groups.
  • Through play, children develop an understanding of themselves and their own identity (imitating facial expressions, learning about their body, and seeing themselves in a mirror)

Have you forgotten how to play?! Here are some tips

  • Check out lots of books & read – children love to retell the story through play (acting out, puppets, dolls, etc.)
  • Drawing & play dough are great for developing fine motor skills, creativity, and self-expression
  • Instruments are great for creating melodies and making music (besides being fun & a form of expression – music & math have a strong correlation)
  • Collections – Kids love to collect things. Make collections of leaves, rocks, sticks, etc. Besides being fun it is the beginning of science!
  • Outside – (see letter O for more!)
  • Boxes – Kids can come up with SO many creative things to do with boxes! From forts to robots to ships the possibilities are endless. Stay tuned for a creative uses for box round-up later this month!
  • Parks – Kids love to climb, slide, swing, fly a kite, and ride a bike/trike! These are all super fun and wonderful for helping kids get exercise and refine large motor skills
  • Toys – Toys are fun too. Try to get open-ended toys where there are a variety of ways your kids can play with them to encourage creativity! Garage Sales & Hand-me downs are great as versions of these toys have been around for generations!  Our favorites:

See – I bet you didn’t know play was so educational, did you?!
Another word of caution – don’t expect them to be perfect little soldiers
Kids are exactly that, kids! I see far too many parents that expect kids to have it all together and then get so upset when kids make mistakes. Your child is still developing coordination so don’t yell at them when they spill a cup (plus I bet even as an adult you’ve spilled a cup or two, am I right?) Kids are still learning all the rules and why they are there so don’t expect them to make connections like only color on paper means no books unless you tell them….. books are filled with paper!

I’m not advocating no rules or consequences! But if kids don’t know something or if something is an accident you will do way more for building a relationship and nurturing your child if you show some grace and patience than by getting upset for something they couldn’t help!

May 2012 418By letting kids be kids I am advocating  letting them have more free time to do what comes natural to them! While a couple well-thought through classes or activities can be a great way to expand their horizons or help them develop an interest, please be VERY CAUTIOUS of over scheduling kids! In today’s society parents cart kids from one activity to the next all in the name of doing what’ best for the child. They aren’t bad activities or motivation, but sometimes the best thing you can do for your child is to just let them have free time to play & explore!
  May 2012 476
Our rule of thumb: (Note this excludes regular family activities like church on Sunday mornings and volunteering on Wednesday nights or random play dates/one time activities)

  • 1-2 year olds –  2 scheduled activities per year!  So usually swimming in the summer and a tot sport/tot music in the winter. We will still go on play dates and library story time, but these are not rigid activities we have to do.

NOTE: If your tot is an only child you may want to up it to 1 activity a quarter to allow your 2 year old interaction with other children.

  • 3-4 year olds  – 1 activity a quarter – We try to mix it up by doing swimming, sport, music, and maybe an art class.
  • K-6-  1 activity a quarter  (outside of school).  If you have several kids even this may become daunting! If you have 5 kids for example taking kid 1 out on Monday, Kid 2 out on Wed, etc. might become to schedule intensive, especially if both parents aren’t available at night and that means carting all the kids to each activity! In that case you might say no more than 2 kids having activities at the same time! 

Note: If you homeschool, activities that you are involved in to supplement their school do not count in these numbers. For example music lessons, swimming/spot lessons to meet physical education requirements.  But the same applies to giving the family down-time on the evening/weekends and not over scheduling your self. I know this can be especially difficult for homeschoolers!

Additional Resources:

L is for limits. This many not be a popular concept right now. But kids NEED limits! And what’s more – they need you to be consistent with the limits you set. A limit isn’t really a limit if it isn’t consistently enforced.
“90 percent of teaching children to internalize limits is based on children’s desire to please those around them” Scholastic Professional Development.  Which is part of why it is so much easier to establish limits when children are younger! As children get older they have a desire to please peers too. So as cute as your kid is when they tell you no – please make it easier on all of you and be consistent early on!
Examples of Things you need to set limits on:image

  • bad behaviors
  • bad attitudes
  • disrespecting parents or others in authority
  • amount of Television your children watch (sure it is convenient, they like it, and there are educational program up to whazo these days…. but that is time they are not interacting with others, getting exercise, or playing creativity)  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NO television to kids under 2, and only 1-2 hours of quality programming for kids 2 and older. Want to learn more – check this out!
  • amount of video games your child plays/watches (see above)
  • amount of computer time outside of school/homework (see above)
  • Hitting, biting (limit of NONE)
  • Language
  • Time with friends (kids need time with family and to play as well. Plus consider if the children your child is playing with are good examples and uplifting)
  • Sweets/Junk Food your child eats
  • How late your child stays up

Note: If’ you’ve never set limits consistently with your child before it will take some time for your child to realize when you say something, you mean it! But they will get use to it. So be consistent and you’ll enjoy the fruit of your labor!

Additional Resources:

M is for marriage. Keep your marriage strong! Your marriage is the foundation of your family. Just like you don’t build a home on a rocky foundation because it will crack and crumble, in the same way you can’t have a healthy family without a strong foundation.  August 2011 847

  • Your kids need to know that you love each other. This gives them assurance that their home is secure. This is also the example they have of what a marriage should look like and your patterns will be repeated again in their future homes!
    • Show affection to one another
    • Go on dates (the kids need to know you value one another)
    • Feel free to smooch in front of the kids from time to time =)
  • Your kids need to know you are a united front. Don’t let your kids play you against each other. You and your spouse should be a united front. United you stand, divided you fall!
  • Your kids need to know you have fun together. Family should be fun! Kids need to know  that you enjoy each others company! So spend time with each other and as a family. Find common interests and make sure to make a priority of your time together.
  • Your kids need to hear you speak respectfully of your spouse – How you speak about your spouse will be parroted by your child. If children hear Dad is grumpy – the kids will think & say that too. But if you are uplifting your spouse by reminding your kids that Daddy works hard to provide for your family and it can be tiring, they will view him as a loving, hero who will take care of them. The song “oh be careful little mouth what you say” is still true for all of us – every day!
  • Your kids need to know you honor your commitments. When you got married you promised to love, honor, and cherish one another until the day you died (in some version). Your kids need to know you mean what you say. Do you love your spouse in action, honor them with your words & actions, and cherish each other as a gift.
  • Your kids need to know you make mistakes & that you FIX them! Kids need to know/hear that grown-ups make mistakes. But what matters the most, is seeing how you fix them! You are teaching them so much about relationships and lifelong commitments by how you react when problems come up. Make sure you talk about the problem, say your sorry, reconcile, and make it right! Words are important, but also “cheap” in the sense that you need to make it right! If you forgot your anniversary you need to do more than just say “sorry”! You need to make a big gesture to show you you really care!
  • Don’t forget to celebrate – Take time to celebrate your spouse on the milestones! After all, when the kids leave the nest you will still have this person. Make sure you treasure them and take good care of your relationship!

Books to Read:


Additional Resources:

N is for new! It is never too late to try something new! Teach your kids it’s okay and fun to try new foods, make new friends, try a new hobby, etc.
Why Try New Things?!?!August 2011 412

  • A stimulating environment filled with new sights/sounds/smells/textures/experiences will help your child form new brain connections. These brain bridges (synapses) are the same ones your child will use their entire life to process information, learn in school, and succeed at work. Most of the synapses in our brains are made within the first 3-5 years of life. This is a precious window of opportunity so seize it and expose your kids to a wide range of experiences, books, and language.
  • Conquer Fears – we are often afraid of the unknown. By conquering known fears or trying new things you are making the world less scary.
  • Widen Comfort Zone – The more your child knows & experiences the more comfortable they are in a broader environment.
  • Build Confidence – When we know what to expect we are more confident.
  • Find a New Interest – When you try something new you just might unlock a new interest, favorite food, or talent you didn’t even know you had.
  • Background information – helpful for seeing the world with fresh eyes & understanding & connecting with others

How to Try New Things – I’d like to encourage you to think of 3 new things (at minimum) you want to try with your child this month!Cruise 2010 078

                • New Food (try a new veggie, a new recipe, or a different type of food: Thai, Oriental, African, etc.)
                • Take your child to a new park 
                • Try a new book! Ask a librarian for some suggestions.
                • Try a new friend! Why not make an effort to get someone new new.
                • Grow a vegetable or container garden
                • Get a pet (Betta are super simple & carefree pets!)
                • Try a new game together as a family
                • Go on a family bike ride
                • Go on a vacation
                • Go to a museum (art, science, history, living history, children’s)
                • Go camping (the backyard is an easy start; state parks are inexpensive & well maintained)
                • Go to the ocean/beach
                • Go fishing

Additional Resources:

O is for outside! There are far too many kids cooped up inside anymore! Kids need to get outside, breathe fresh air, run around & get exercise, socialize with other kids, and use their imaginations as they play! Even during the coldest winter day or  the hottest summer day your kids can dress appropriately, during the mildest part of the day, and spend at least 15-30 minutes outside!

Studies have shown that playing outside relieves stress, allows them to use all of their senses, improves grades, self-esteem went up, and creativity flowed. Plus kids slept better from all that activity!

Here are ideas for OUTDOOR play by season! Enjoy =-)


Summer Outdoor Play Ideas:


    Autumn Outdoor Play Ideas:


    Winter Outdoor Play Ideas:


    Spring Outdoor Play Ideas:

    About the author

    Beth Gorden

    Beth Gorden is the creative multi-tasking creator of 123 Homeschool 4 Me. As a busy homeschooling mother of six, she strives to create hands-on learning activities and worksheets that kids will love to make learning FUN! She has created over 1 million pages of printables to help teach kids ABCs, science, English grammar, history, math, and so much more! Beth is also the creator of 2 additional sites with even more educational activities and FREE printables - www.kindergartenworksheetsandgames.com and www.preschoolplayandlearn.com

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