So much for the new normal! It looks like we are going back to the abnormal with spiking COVID-19 cases in Florida, and Miami-Dade in particular, putting reopenings on hold or even back some. That means a return to home stays – did we ever leave? Except that now, we have to face the summer doldrums on top of limited activities and options.
But before you board the bitter bus, take heart that you already survived the first wave and you can use lessons learned to thrive. There’s no better time to start a wellness plan for your child that focuses on key factors to help them feel emotionally stable, physically active and mentally focused. If you’re new to the whole wellness thing, or just need a little motivation on how to get started, here are five areas of focus to help kickstart a summer of overall family wellness.
Like with adults, stress can take a heavy emotional toll on children leading to several issues such as anxiety and even sleep disruption. During normal times, it’s often recommended to remove a child from stressful environments, yet that’s pretty much unavoidable these days thanks to the pandemic. However, there are ways to equip your child with healthy ways of dealing with their emotions. For example, when your child is feeling sadness or anger, sit them down and calmly discuss their feelings with them. Explaining healthy ways of dealing with emotions as well as finding healthy responses to stress is also helpful.
If your child is struggling with behavioral issues and you could use extra support, The Parent Club is a great resource for parents to share experiences and explore relevant topics through easily-accessible virtual workshops.
Good physical wellness is important at every stage of a child’s development, making it vital to incorporate exercise and good nutrition in everyday life. Not only does staying active help to ward off several conditions such as obesity and heart disease, but physical activity also helps to reduce feelings of nervousness and relieve tension in kids. According to the Mayo Clinic, children age 6 and older need at least an hour a day of physical activity which should include moderate or vigorous aerobic activity.
It can be challenging to find ways to keep your kids active inside or in your yard, but The Children’s Trust's StayHome.Miami webpage provides soccer and baseball instruction and activities that can be done even with rudimentary things to help get them moving. Dance anyone? Thomas Armour Youth Ballet also has videos teaching a variety of dances on StayHome.Miami.
Also, make sure to incorporate healthy nutrition that revolves around fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and adequate protein, which is a necessary foundation for proper brain function and emotional stability. Have a hyperactive child? Studies show that avoiding sugary processed foods can aid in calming your child’s nerves and reducing hyperactivity symptoms.
Spirituality is a very personal thing and can mean something different to each family. Some find meaning in a higher power and prayer, some find spiritual well-being with helping others, while some will find a purpose in healing. While this may sound a little too deep for kids, helping a child explore and understand their sense of something bigger than themselves may help kids, especially pre-teens and teenagers feel more connected to themselves and others. From online church services to kid-friendly books on spirituality, there are several new ideas, environments, and activities to help open their minds to bigger possibilities.
By encouraging a love for learning, children will form a commitment to lifelong mental wellness. That’s often easier understood than practiced. But to keep your child’s mind sharp during a summer at home, encourage activities that stimulate curiosity and the desire to figure things out. That can include simple things like doing a puzzle together, crafting a project or even cooking in the kitchen together.
Is there a young new reader in your family? The new and expanded The Children’s Trust Book Club has you covered with free, monthly books by mail for children from birth through their 5th birthday living in Miami-Dade County.
Healthy social interactions are one of the most integral pieces of your child’s wellness plan. A child needs to feel loved and cared for, and social bonds will help them feel this sense of emotional support. Equipping children with good social skills and talking with them about their interactions can help you guide them in a healthy manner. Activities that support your child’s social wellness include teaching them the importance of sharing, using open and honest communication with them, and exposing them to a variety of social situations to help them build a social network of their own.
Although many social gatherings are limited these days, there are ways to encourage children to practice social wellness at home. From creating thank you crafts to frontline workers to virtual field trips, StayHome.Miami also has several fun activities that will allow kids to feel socially connected with others.