There is nothing new about New Year’s resolutions. The new year offers a clean slate – an opportunity for us to do away with old, not so good habits and develop new ones, an opportunity to set new goals and an opportunity to live happier, healthier lives. When it comes to our children, it’s no different. The new year gives them a clean slate as well. Here are some resolutions you can make to have happier, healthier kids in 2022.
Talk with your child more. Having a conversation with your child about their goals for the new year is a good place to start. Find out from them what habits and achievements they were happy about in the previous year, which ones they felt not so good about, and whether or not they have any resolutions of their own for the upcoming year. You can have these conversations regularly throughout the year to check in with their progress toward their goals, and how they feel about where they are. When talking with your child you should actually be doing more listening than talking. Allow them to convey their thoughts without judgement or interruption and make sure that they have your undivided attention. You can make a lunch, dinner, shopping, or workout date for this purpose since having these conversations on neutral territory is a good idea.
Eat at least one family meal a week. Family meals have a number of benefits. They have been shown to decrease the risk of obesity, improve vocabulary, and keep teens out of trouble. Plus, they are a nice way to check in with each other. Work, homework, and activity schedules can make it hard to get everybody in the same place at the same time, but it’s worth the effort. Avoid the stress of preparing the meal by keeping the food simple or ordering in. The point is to be together.
Have everyone eat at least one serving of fruits and vegetables daily. The recommendation is five servings a day, and my experience as a pediatrician is that very few people actually eat anything close to that. Try packing an apple for a snack, slicing a banana in the morning cereal, and always serve a vegetable with dinner. Insist on at least three bites from picky children. Be creative and work with your children. One serving isn’t that much. You can do it.
Get active with your kids at least once a week. The recommendation is that all children be active for an hour a day. Again, my experience as a pediatrician is that not many children are meeting it – partly because their parents aren’t active either. Being active is not synonymous with boot camp like regimens. Activities could be as simple as playing at the park, playing in the pool or at the beach on Sundays, taking a walk, or dancing while you make dinner. You can do it once a week together or break it up into little bits every day. Again, be creative. One day a week is doable.
Keep your child’s annual well-visit appointment with their pediatrician. This is perhaps the most obvious way to ensure your child is healthy. These visits are an opportunity to have your child’s growth and development assessed. They also provide an opportunity to screen for problems with vision, hearing, and nutrition that can interfere with other areas of your child’s life like school performance and sleep hygiene. Well visits allow for early identification of illnesses like diabetes, dyslipidemia, obesity, and depression. Overall, visits to the pediatrician set the foundation for a happy, healthy year.
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, don’t be put off by the fact that you might not have stuck to them in years past. Don’t be too ambitious. Set goals you can manage, talk and plan as a family, and figure it out together. Even small steps can be steps in the right direction. Cheers to a happy and healthy 2022!
• Dr. Tamarra Moss is a pediatrician committed to helping you raise happy and healthy kids. You can find her at Dr. Carlos Thomas & Pediatric Associates in New Providence, Lucayan Medical Center in Grand Bahama, or on Instagram @mykidsdoc242.