Fit Kids

Kids come in all shapes and sizes. But medical experts agree: One in four Americans is overweight. That ratio applies to our children as well. But your youngsters don't have to be a statistic. Start now to instill good-for-them habits that can last for life.

Don't put children on a diet. Do start them on the path to healthy eating by serving a variety of whole grains, lean meats, fish and poultry, vegetables and fruit. If possible, pack their school lunches instead of giving them carte blanche in the cafeteria line. A piece of cake or a soda and chips every once in a while is fine, just as long as "once in a while" isn't every day.

Let kids run. Today's society encourages sedentary activities such as surfing the Internet and playing Nintendo. While those activities can stimulate imagination, games like tag, capture the flag, kick the can, Frisbee and anything else that gets them outdoors and running around will go far in strengthening their bodies and helping them maintain a healthy weight. Save the indoor activities for after dinner.

Beat boredom by encouraging hobbies. Whether your children want to learn karate, pick up an instrument, play on a soccer team, take gymnastics or even browse through the library for another great book, hobbies keep both mind and body engaged — which is a good thing. Not only will you hear "Mom, I'm bored!" less often, but they'll be less apt to snack on foods their bodies really aren't hungry for.

Make exercise a family thing, and make it mandatory. Plan with your spouse to take everyone on a Saturday bike trip. Go to the park after church on Sunday for family football. Swim at a local recreation center or challenge your kids to a running race.

Whatever you do, show your children how good a healthy diet can be — and how much fun an active lifestyle is — by living it yourself. Like so much of life, these things are caught and taught.

Background Information

Journey of No Return
Sometimes as parents, we have a knee-jerk response to our kids as we're barraged by their numerous inquires and desires. Maybe it's time to stop being so negative.

When Not To Discipline
Parents should recognize when they should and shouldn't discipline their children.

When You Feel Like Calling in the SWAT Team
Are your children constantly testing you? This classic parenting advice will help you regain the upper hand.

Questions and Answers

After I spank my child, she usually wants to hug me and make up, but I continue to be cool to her for a few hours. Do you think that is right?

We'd like to be more unified in our approach, but how do we successfully move from two financial approaches to one?

How long do you think a child should be allowed to cry after being punished? Is there a limit?

I have never spanked my 3-year-old because I am afraid it will teach her to hit others and be a violent person. Do you think I am wrong?

It just seems barbaric to cause pain to a defenseless child. Is it healthy to spank him or her?

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Other Things to Consider

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TransitionsHaving a Baby, Preparing for Adolescence

Life PressuresWorking Moms, Stay-At-Home Moms, Time for Family

RelationshipsParents and Adult Children, Blended Families