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May 30, 2023


May 30, 2023

Setting A Strong Foundation: Starting Health & Wellness Discussions with Your Little Ones

Engaging in health and wellness discussions with children can be challenging but crucial for their overall well-being. This article provides valuable insights and practical tips for parents on how to navigate these conversations effectively.

Medically reviewed by

You’re sitting at the dinner table and your youngest randomly blurts out “How are babies made?”

It’s a scene that occurs in households all across the country and is mimicked in mass media. These moments are all too common for parents and they don’t just stop at “the birds & the bees”; as your child grows you’ll engage in discussions about subjects ranging from boundary–setting to nutrition to tobacco use. These conversations can feel overwhelming–but they’re instrumental in setting a strong foundation for a lifetime of wellness. 

Here’s three concepts to keep in mind when having these ‘talks’:

1. Be Intentional With Timing

It comes with the territory, but, in preventative health it’s essential to be proactive. Don’t wait for the issue to arise or for your child to ask about it–this could lead to them seeking out information from their peers, social media, and other sources (which could include misinformation). Try integrating health & wellness discussions into daily routines and activities. For example, when cooking, talk about the importance of balanced meals and nutritional value. During outdoor play, discuss the benefits of physical activity and sun safety.

It’s also important to recognize the developmental stage of your child (and that different children will move at different speeds in their development). Tailor the depth and complexity of the discussions to their stage and curiosity. Younger children may respond well to simple explanations and analogies, while (pre)teens may be ready for more detailed explanations and frameworks for assessing the pros & cons of certain health choices.

2. Prioritize Evidence and Expert Opinions

For productive health and wellness discussions with your children, it's essential to base your teachings on accurate, evidence-based information. This helps to establish credibility and instill a habit of seeking reliable sources of knowledge in your little ones. Here are some ways to prioritize evidence and involve expert opinions in your conversations:

  • Stay informed: Regularly consult reputable sources of health information, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). 
  • Be selective: With the abundance of information available online, it's crucial to differentiate between trustworthy sources and those that may be biased or based on anecdotal evidence. Websites with domains ending in .gov, .edu, or .org are typically more reliable. Cross-check information between multiple sources to verify its accuracy.
  • Consult professionals: Regularly involve pediatricians, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals in your child's health education. They can provide tailored advice and insights that cater to your child's age, health status, and specific needs. Build a relationship with these experts and maintain open communication with them.
  • Encourage active participation: Make your child an active participant in their healthcare visits. Prompt them to ask questions, voice concerns, and share their experiences with the professionals. This can help children better understand their own health and fosters critical thinking and evidence-seeking behavior.

3. Optimize for Knowledge Retention

Health education only matters if your child can actually apply the information to their daily lives and behaviors. It’s helpful to adapt any information or conversation plans to their specific learning style and needs. If you’ve noticed your child is more receptive to examples, try acting out certain scenarios that relate to the subject. If they’re a kinesthetic learner then try to incorporate physical learning resources like models.

Be mindful that repetition is often the key to retention. Reinforce the topics discussed periodically and in various ways. Praise your children when they make healthy choices, and use those moments as opportunities to revisit the reasons behind those decisions. This will ensure that the lesson doesn’t just last in the moment, but lasts a lifetime.

These conversations can be one of the most stressful parts of parenthood. At Ollo, we’re making them as stress-free as possible–building an all-in-one health education platform for families. With our expert-reviewed guides and interactive resources, you can gain confidence while fostering healthy relationships in your household. Join Ollo's waitlist here.

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Hunter Wagenaar
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