7 ways to help increase your child’s wellness

A group of elementary school kids are outside on a summer day. They are embracing and smiling while taking a group photo.

Every parent wants their child to be as healthy as possible. One way to achieve that goal is by focusing on their wellness.

“Wellness is essentially ‘health plus thriving,’” says Dr. Sharon Moore-Caldwell, a medical director with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. “You can nurture your child’s wellness by taking some small steps every day.” 

Here are some strategies to help increase your child’s wellness:

1. Model good behavior

Children observe and mimic what they see their parents do. That includes healthy habits—or lack thereof. If you model good behavior, they’ll notice.

2. Promote healthy eating

Eating a healthy diet helps your child grow and develop appropriately. You can promote healthy eating with these strategies:

  • Plan and prepare healthy meals and snacks so you’re not caught off guard when it’s time to eat
  • Cut back on sugary drinks and treats
  • Encourage your child to drink water and eat fresh fruit
  • Limit processed foods

3. Help your child get the sleep they need

Most children between ages 6 and 12 need 9-12 hours of sleep per night. How you can promote healthy sleep:

  • Set and maintain a consistent bedtime for your child, as well as a consistent wake time.
  • Turn the screens off at a certain time before bedtime
  • Encourage them to wind down with a bedtime routine

4. Encourage physical activity

Kids 6 and older need at least one hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity most days. Younger children need even more. Head outside to play and work up a sweat. Or, try these other ways to help your kids move more—and enjoy doing so:

  • Take a walk around your neighborhood
  • Plan a family hike in a nearby park
  • Find a Healthy Place in your community to visit
  • If your child wants to join a team or play a sport, sign them up and support them
  • Find a developmentally-appropriate activity that your child likes and make it a priority

5. Limit screen time

Set limits for your child’s screen time use based on their age and development. Monitor what they’re accessing on their tablets, phones and other screens to make sure it’s appropriate.

6. Emphasize the importance of emotional health

Your child’s emotional well-being is as important as their physical health. You can support them in many ways, such as:

  • Listen to their concerns and watch them for signs that something’s not quite right. For example, you might watch out for irritability or avoidance of certain activities that could be signs of anxiety.
  • Spend quality time with them and let them know how important your relationship with them is to you
  • Build their self-confidence by praising their efforts
  • Own your own failures and apologize when you make mistakes
  • Help them learn how to make small decisions thoughtfully so they’ll learn how to make healthy choices as they grow up

Keep in mind that emotional health often looks different at different ages, too.

7. Stay current with childhood immunizations

You can improve your child’s wellness by making sure they’re vaccinated against many preventable diseases. Talk to your child’s primary care doctor to make sure your child is up to date.

Don’t get overwhelmed

It may seem like a lot to do but remember that wellness is a journey. You don’t have to accomplish everything all at once. Also, wellness and thriving will look different at different times in your child’s life. Be flexible and be willing to change.

“Parents have a critical role in determining the wellness of their children,” says Dr. Moore-Caldwell. “If nothing else, you can model wellness for your child. Living it is the best way to teach it and share it.”

More from Dr. Sharon Moore-Caldwell on WellTuned.

Jennifer Larson

Jennifer Larson is Nashville-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years of experience. She specializes in health care and family issues.

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Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.