Child health care: Tips to parents

Children are not miniature adults; please take special care of your kids.  Population of children constitutes 28 per cent of total population in the world, so it becomes our duty to provide healthy children to the future of our world.

A healthy child is the one who has sound physical, mental, social  and emotional development - not just a tall & fat child.      

Physical development
It depends on genetic, emotional factors, the underlying medical problems and the type of food we feed the children.  Provide balanced diet to your kids every day, including 1/5th of carbohydrates (cereals like ragi, wheat, rice etc.), 1/5th of proteins (pulses like dhal, soya, groundnuts, cheese, nonveg etc.), 1/5th of protective foods (fruits, vegetables, germinating seeds), 1/5th of fat (ghee, butter, oil) & 1/5th of milk & milk products.  Avoid high calorie foods & fast foods.  Fast foods are rich in fat, sodium and calories and are also very low in fiber.

Frequently eating fast foods may lead to obesity.  Around 80 per cent of obese children become obese adults & are more prone to diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, gallbladder diseases & certain cancers later in life.

Mental development
Brain growth of kids is maximum in the 1- 2 years of life,   any injury or insult to the growing brain will lead to mental retardation. Avoid head injury and don’t hit on the head of children. Intelligence of children depends on genetic, environmental, emotional factors and medical conditions (hypothyroid etc,) and nutrition (like anaemic kid may not concentrate on the subject).  Do not compare the marks of your kid with those of other kids,  it will spoil the confidence of your child and the child may think he/she is useless, it will worsen his performance.

Instead, you better talk to your child, understand his problems, try to solve and encourage your child. Allow your child to sleep for 7 to 9 hours a day, which helps him to concentrate in the school and also to grow well, as growth hormone secretion is maximum during sleep.  Unlike adults, the mind of children is like an empty CD.

Try to write good and useful things in the minds of your children.  The duty of the father is to give education to the child, the mother should give emotional support apart from taking care of good nutrion and the teachers should advise the children to learn good behaviour, honesty, discipline and patriotism.

Social development
Human beings have learnt to live together for generations, don’t  allow your child feel lonely.   Allow your child to play with other kids; child learns social life by observation. Take your children for family functions, to your friend’s house etc.

Kids follow parents without our knowledge. So, parents should be the role models to the child, to teach social behavior.  School is another place where child learns social behavior.

Emotional development
 For a balanced emotional development of children, parents should be calm & confident, should not be anxious. Child should feel that he is safe and secure at his home. One of the parents should be there at home when child returns from school. Parents should not quarrel in front of children, children will lose faith in both parents and will depend on friends – may learn bad habits. Don’t contradict your order or advice to your kids – when mother is telling something to the child father should keep quiet and visa versa. 
      
Emotional disturbances are common at teenage due to hormonal effects, so parents should behave like friends with teenaged children. Between 10 and 19 years of age, children undergo rapid changes in body size, shape, physiology, psychologic and social functioning (adolescent period).    Self-consciousness increases exponentially in response to the somatic transformations of puberty.

Self-awareness at this age tends to center on external characteristics in contrast to the introspection.   Short temper , heroic attitude is common at teens – so never get angry with your teenaged children, don’t try to punish  physically,  don’t insult your kids in front of their friends, instead  you better talk to them, convince them with the help of their friends. Parents should have lot of patience. Consult your doctor for medical problems of your kids.   
                                                                                        
 Dr K.B. Mahendrappa                      
( The writer is a professor of pediatrics with JSS Medical college and hospital)

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