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As a parent, you want your children to be healthy and safe. Helping your child understand and adopt healthy behavior during those preteen years can help set a positive foundation for the upcoming teenage years.

This month, we’re focusing on 3 areas where you can help your preteen child stay healthy:

Sleep

Here are some sleep tips that may help your child sleep well and stay healthy:

  • Maintain a sleep schedule. According to the National Sleep Foundation, kids aged 9-13 years need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep every night. (1) It may have been easier to maintain a strict bedtime schedule during the school year, but with summer vacation here and longer days, you may find it more difficult to keep a regular bedtime.
  • Don’t take long naps. Long naps during the day may have an effect on your child’s circadian rhythm (their internal clock).
  • Don’t consume energy drinks. Many so-called energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine, which can keep your preteen awake.

Diet

Here are some diet tips to ensure your child develops healthy eating habits:

  • Eat 3 nutritious meals every day. According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, your portions should include fruits, grains, veggies, protein, and dairy. (2)
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  • Eat together as a family. Turn off the TV, the phones, and the tablets. Use family dinner time to catch up and talk with one another. This also helps you, the parent, see patterns in your child’s eating habits.
  • Avoid all the unhealthy snacks (e.g., chips) and drinks (e.g., sodas). Help your child understand the importance of a healthy snack. Offer an apple, or a glass of milk. What you teach them today can affect the decisions they make in the future.

Activites

  • Limit screen time. Your child may be content to sit and watch TV all day, but try and limit screen time to about an hour per day. (3)
  • Get kids outside. It’s summer vacation. The weather is great for running and playing outside. Kids this age should get at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. Just remember to apply sunscreen.
  • Know their friends. Knowing your preteen’s friends and the activities they’re engaging in helps you as a parent ensure your child is safe. If you haven’t already, be sure to talk to your child about the dangers of alcohol, smoking, and drugs. Set firm rules and guidelines.

Sources

  1. National Sleep Foundation – https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/children-and-sleep/page/0/2
  2. Choosemyplate.gov
  3. Group Health Cooperative – http://www.ghc.org/healthAndWellness/?item=/common/healthAndWellness/teen/parentingTeens/preteens.html
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