Cincinnati Family Magazine

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April 18, 2024

Getting Kids to Care About Their Health

It starts with moms and dads being good role models for their kids.

One day your kid is running around eating mac and cheese and chicken nuggets, without a care in the world; and the next, they are an emotional tween asking you how to exercise, and watching what they eat. Sometimes as a parent you have to put in extra effort on your end to get your kids to really care about their health and sometimes, we need to subtly step in and help our kids make their health a priority.

One way to help your kids be more health conscious is by remembering to schedule those yearly, routine visits with your pediatrician, says Andrew Gantzer, DO, family medicine physician at The Christ Hospital Health Network.

“Routine visit/yearly checkups ensure children and parents develop a good relationship with their physician,” Gantzer says. “This opens lines of communication not only between the children and the parents themselves, but also helps children to be more comfortable discussing issues with their doctor,” he adds.

Another way is to make health a priority yourself, Gantzer continues.

“I think setting a good example by making your own health a priority is a good way for parents to demonstrate/educate their children on the importance of
health,” he says.

AT WHAT AGE DO KIDS REALLY CARE ABOUT THEIR HEALTH?

All kids are different. Some kids begin to raise questions about their health around puberty depending a lot on how they perceive what is going on around them and their medical history, too.

“I think this varies from child to child,” says Gantzer. “Children with chronic illnesses will likely take a greater interest in their health, and sooner, then someone without,” he continues.

Self image and body image awareness can start at a young age, too, and if you see your kids’ health awareness being more negative, one of the best steps you can take without overstepping, is to keep open lines of communication right from the get-go.

“Parents should make a habit of checking in with their children regularly, whether their children are receptive to it or not,” suggests Gantzer. “Doing so shows you care and that you are available.”

ADOLESCENT YEARS

We all know how trying the adolescent years can be. Between puberty, peer pressure and emotions galore, you may come across more topics than you can bare. Your tween needs guidance and independence all at the same time, and just solely being a shoulder to cry on, listening and supporting them, is exactly what they need. It is also OK to hand it over to your pediatrician when it comes to addressing topics your kid feels
embarrassed to speak with you about.

“Around this age is when I start asking parents if they are OK with me speaking with their children privately for a few minutes,” Gantzer explains. “This helps not only with autonomy for the patient, but also allows an opportunity for us to discuss matters they may not feel comfortable discussing with their parents around.”

All-in-all, setting a good example for your kids is number one. Validating their feelings and giving them healthy options (exercising, foods and behavior) is a start. If you feel like your kid is struggling
– further, turn to your family doctor or pediatrician for help.

About the Author

Amanda Hayward

Amanda Hayward is editor of this publication. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio, and a mom of three with one on the way. If she's not writing for Cincinnati Family, you'll find her running, juggling kids, teaching group fitness classes and cooking up healthy recipes.