Children are the future of our communities and the future leaders of the world. Raising and looking after children is not an easy job while most of us as parents fumble our way through, learning through trial and error.
The same is true when it comes to children’s health as well. Health during childhood is the foundation for their health during adult years, therefore it is very important to focus attention on children’s health from early on, teaching them healthy habits for the future and most importantly giving them the right immunisations on time.
Effective health management for a child involves:
- Teaching them about healthy eating.
- Providing nutritious food for them through age-appropriate balanced meals.
- Protect them from infections and injuries, and care for them when they are feeling unwell.
- Ensure they have regular opportunities for play and other physical activities, as well as social interactions.
Children need both their physical and emotional needs to be met in order to thrive. Although each child can be different, there are certain growth and development stages that remain common for all children as they start growing. These stages of child development include:
- Birth to 8 years of age – During the first year, children develop their socioemotional aspect with growing attachments to those who are close to them. Their personalities, relationship skills, and functional skills develop according to the level of emotional support they receive during this time. By 3 years of age, they increase in height and weight, as well as develop skills such as sitting, walking, running, writing (more accurately scribbling), and talking, as well as learning important things like how to use the toilet on their own. Between 3-5 years of age, children develop their gross and fine motor skills and begin to rapidly grow physically. Overall they will keep developing their physical skills together with social and emotional skills.
- 8 to 12 years of age – Refining of a child’s cognitive skills, personality, and interpersonal skills begins around 8 years of age, and they start understanding basic concepts such as time and money, etc. This period is when they start integrating their individual development in a social context. Physical growth slows down a little during this time and stays somewhat constant.
- 12 to 18 years of age – During this time, children go through diverse and confusing changes physically, emotionally, and cognitively, and certain psychological changes are common during this period. Children may be moody and difficult to connect with. However, these emotions, caused by hormones, will even out as they mature. Children will also experience a ‘burst’ of physical growth during this time, with increased appetites, and increases in height and weight. They will also make a significant transition in the way they think and address problems and responsibilities.
If you are uncertain about your child’s development and growth, you can always speak to a children’s doctor in Mt Gravatt or at a clinic close to you for more insight and information.
As children start to interact with others, they will tend to catch infections such as colds, coughs, etc. It is very important that you vaccinate your child according to their age in order to keep them safe from harmful diseases that could cause much more serious complications, such as a disability or even death. Clinics that provide services in child health in Mt. Gravatt or elsewhere will be able to advise you on what vaccinations are required at different ages.
Standard recommended vaccines for children in Upper Mt Gravatt include:
- Hepatitis B.
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Acellular Pertussis.
- Haemophilus Influenza Type B.
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella.
- Human Papilloma Virus.
- Whooping Cough.
- Chicken Pox.
All children should be taught good health habits which they will take into adulthood. These include:
- Colourful mealtimes – eating different colored foods is a very healthy practice and it also makes mealtimes fun for fussy eaters. Incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables into their meals and snacks should be done from an early age.
- Eat breakfast – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast gives them a jump start to their brain and energy levels, keeps them strong, and helps protect them from chronic diseases.
- Physical activities – Physical activities are very important for children. This helps them with their physical development, as well as improve their social and other skills.
- Oral health – Children should be taught to brush their teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day in order to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
- Reduce screen time – Increased screen time can cause many behavioral problems for children, as well as other adverse health issues such as obesity, irregular sleep, personality issues, and social and emotional problems.
- Read more – A child’s success in school and in later years can be attributed to good reading habits. Reading also helps build their social and relationship skills, as well as improving their creativity.
- Drink more water – Children need to stay hydrated all the time because of their increased physical activity. However, to stay hydrated, water is the only recommended drink for children as soft drinks and other beverages are unhealthy and can cause adverse health issues.
- Enjoy family time –Family time is very important for children’s mental and emotional growth and development.
- Enjoy time with friends and relatives – Playing with other children and forming friendships can develop their relationship and social skills, as well as problem-solving and communication skills. Making friends is important for them and we should encourage it at all times.
- Positive feedback – Children can get discouraged very quickly and as parents, it is our responsibility to give them positive feedback and encourage them to do their best. This helps develop self-esteem and other important personal skills in a child.
For more information on how to develop better habits that improve your child’s health and wellbeing, you can visit any clinic that provides services in child health in Mt. Gravatt or anywhere close to you.