It is every good parent’s goal to help their children grow and develop properly. This is such that they can have a healthy, active, and happy life. Children’s development is in stages, and having an understanding of these stages and what occurs in each one is important.
Aspects of Children Development
Children’s development occurs in four main aspects and does not happen at the same rate as other children of similar age. As such, it is complicated and not advisable to compare. These four major aspects include the following:
- Physical - involves the growth of body parts and their functions
- Cognitive/Mental - encompasses thinking, learning, memory, and language
- Social-Emotional - involves feelings, interests, and emotions. Also how the child interacts with other people and things in her/his environment
- Language and communication
Ways to Make Your Kids Grow and Develop
The following are ways to help them grow and develop in all aspects of development.
Exercise and Physical Activities
Your child or children need adequate exercise to develop their gross and fine motor skills. Besides, getting sufficient physical activity has numerous physical and mental benefits. These benefits span from early childhood to late childhood (adolescence).
Depending on your child’s age, the activities may differ or be more or less intense. Do the following from the comfort of your home and with family members to ensure enough physical activity:
- For younger children, provide toys and activities that encourage them to reach with their hands, bend their backs and waist, wiggle their toes, and use their arms and legs. That way, their body gets flexible.
- Play games and exercise together that will involve skipping, hopping, throwing, dancing, and running. These may be jump rope, hide and seek, tag, etc. older kids can get involved in sports like tennis, basketball, and volleyball.
- Have them join in family fun such as walking to the park, walking the family pets, hiking, etc.
- Have your kids help out with chores such as dishwashing, gardening, and so on.
- Limit watching TV and playing video/computer games to shorter periods.
It is essential to expose your kids to several physical activities as much as you can. Also, make them choose what they love most or are most comfortable with. This encourages them to build new skills. Besides, your children get to develop a healthy habit that they continue with into adulthood.
Diet and Nutrition
A healthy diet is crucial to the physical and mental development of your child. It is also important in preventing childhood diseases such as obesity and diabetes. While children’s diet isn’t any more different from that of an adult, there are some very essential nutrients they must get.
Some healthy food sources that should be included in your kid’s diet include:
- Fruits and vegetables. These are very rich in dietary fiber, vitamins (A, C, and E), and minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc. Vitamins boost your kid’s immune system and help fight against diseases. Minerals help build different body structures and tissues. For instance, iron is essential for blood and calcium for stronger bones and teeth.
- Nuts and Seeds. These are good sources of protein, healthy fats, fats, fibers, vitamins, and minerals.
- Foods high in protein. These include meat, fish, poultry, seafood, beans, eggs, and soy products. Protein helps build and repair body tissues, aid metabolic reactions, and coordinate bodily functions.
- Milk and other dairy products. Milk can replace carbonated drinks and sodas in their diet. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich sources of calcium needed for strong, healthy bones. They also provide protein, vitamins, and minerals.
- Energy-giving foods. Such as grain foods (bread, pasta, breakfast cereal, rice, oats, etc.), sweet potatoes, eggs, bananas, and fatty fish.
Give our 5 Healthy and Kid-Friendly Recipes a try.
Toddlers and school-age children are recommended to get 10-14 hours of sleep per day. Older kids can get 8-9 hours of sleep daily. Short sleep duration affects children during the daytime in school and has many disadvantages. This included impaired attention, learning motivation, and academic achievement.
To help your kids get enough sleep, establish a constant bedtime routine. Some habits that could be part of the routine are:
- Dim the lights
- Switch off electronics/devices 30-60 minutes before bed
- Take a warm bath
- Do a quiet family ritual such as reading a book, telling bedtime stories, etc.
- Set a wake-up alarm.
This could take various forms. However, none is better than the other. Instead, they are all vital as they build all the aspects of development- mental, physical, emotional, and social.
Ways to foster parent-child interaction include:
- Play with them. It could be a game of cards, board games (scrabble, ludo, chess), or outdoor sports such as tennis. Also, sing, tell stories, read, and have together with them.
- Be interested in their interests. These could be sports, music, crafts, cooking, etc. Kids open up and relate more with parents that look and act interested in what they love. Work with them on self-initiated or class projects.
- Talk with and to them. Converse with your kids no matter their age. It enhances their language and communication skills and relationship skills. Let them say what they feel or think about issues. Also, speak words of affirmation and encouragement. Phrases like I love you, proud of you, go baby, and so on boosts their self-esteem, self-confidence, and trust in relationships.
Warm and Safe Environment
This refers to a physically and emotionally safe place to live. Keep your kids away from areas where they can get sick and wounded. Ensure your surroundings clean. Also, keep children away from physical violence and emotional abuse. These could result in health problems, including mental disorders and traumas.
As a parent, create an environment where they feel welcome and are free to express themselves in whatever ways they can.
When all these highlighted measures are put in place, your kids get to develop their physical and mental potentials maximally. The passage from early childhood through middle childhood and adolescence becomes easier, healthier, and more successful.
Li, S. et al. (2013). Sleep, school performance, and a school-based intervention among school-aged children: a sleep series study in China. PLoS One 8(7). Retrieved from: https://journals.plos.org/
Millard, S.K., Edwards, S. & Cook, F.M. (2009). Parent-child interaction therapy: Adding to the evidence. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 11(1); 61-76. Retrieved from: https://www.tandfonline.com/
Salvin, J.J. & Lloyd, B. (2012). Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables. Adv Nutr. 3(4); 506-516.