This year has been a trying time for children, and the upcoming holiday season brings with it its own set of challenges. The pandemic has impacted nearly all aspects of our children’s lives, and with December upon us, parents will need to prepare their kids for what will be a very different holiday than that of previous years.

Anca Wessels, a Momentum Multiply expert in Biokinetics and Sport Message Therapy, says that: “It is important to find a balance that works for your family – ‘different’ can still be fun, while at the same time ensuring that your children are safe.”

“Covid-19 has taught us the importance of maintaining our health; a weakened immune system makes one far more vulnerable to the virus.”

While the data thus far indicates that children represent a small percentage of cases and those who do contract it, usually present with mild symptoms, Wessels maintains that it is important to instil healthy habits in children to ensure that their immune systems remain strong.

During the holidays and in the absence of a daily routine, it becomes much harder to keep up with good habits. Wessels shares a few tips to help you and your child navigate this holiday season together.

Have honest and frank conversations with your kids

For kids, the holiday season means visiting family, having fun, making new memories, and a break from school. This year the holiday presents a new set of risks in the form of travel plans, visiting extended friends and family, and busy public spaces. It’s therefore important to have a conversation with your kids to gauge their understanding of the associated dangers.

“Speaking to your kids in a clear, reasonable way about what’s going on is the best way to help them understand the potential risks of engaging with others. But remember, kids don’t need to know every little thing. Emphasise the important parts that they need to remember, like washing their hands, wearing their masks, and keeping their distance from those outside of their primary household,” says Wessels.

Keep an exercise routine

Wessels says that it is important to schedule activities that encourage kids to exercise, which will help to ensure a healthy immune system. Kids and teens between the ages of 6 and 17 should aim for a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.

“Children’s bodies are meant to move, and it is critical to their physical development and health. Kids need as much active time as possible. Creating healthy habits around physical activity from a young age will stay with your kids throughout their lives, setting them up for a healthier future.”

“These activities could include a combination of cardio exercises like racing a sibling, strengthening exercises like a handstand or bear crawl, and stretches that they can incorporate into playtime with their friends. Physical activity should preferably be done outdoors, where possible, helping ensure that children get enough sunlight and vitamin D.”

A variety of exercises are essential to ensure that a range of muscles are used, Wessels notes, offering some examples of well-known exercises and stretches that kids can incorporate into their playtime.

Cardio exercises

Strength exercises

Stretches

Hopscotch

Squats

Tree pose

Skipping

Handstands

Frog pose

Jumping jacks

Push-ups/sit-ups

Forward bend

Dancing

Wheelbarrow walks

Cat/cow

Incentivise it!

As kids get older, Wessels admits that it becomes more difficult to get them moving and engaged. “For stubborn teens, try offering an incentive. Set up activities that they need to do with a small reward in exchange for the successful completion of the tasks. And remember, household chores count as physical activity.”

“Involve your child in choosing the incentive so that you can collectively decide on something that will inspire them, but try not to default to cash or sweets. Rather offer an outing or their choice of dinner as a reward,” adds Wessels.

Maintain a strong, virtual network

If you’re not planning on seeing elderly family members out of concern for their health, keeping in touch with them virtually plays an important role in ensuring that they maintain their bond with your children.

“Technology can also help younger kids feel closer to relatives or friends they can’t see now,” says Wessels. “Keep their support network strong and allow for a limited amount of screen time for them to speak to friends and cousins.”

Monitor screen time

According to a recent ParentsTogether survey, the average time spent online has doubled for kids during the Covid-19 pandemic and 85 percent of parents are worried about this increased consumption.

Staying informed is important; however, it’s a good idea to limit the consumption of news and social media that may have the potential to feed into your kids’ anxiety. “Limit screen time and set up restrictions on the content your kids have access to. Teach them how to apply critical thinking to what they might encounter in their scrolling,” advises Wessels.

“While this year’s holiday season may take a little more effort to successfully navigate, teaching your children healthy habits will not only ensure that they remain healthy throughout these holidays, but it will also set them up for future success as adults.”

 

This article was published in partnership with Media Xpose.

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