When it comes to the wellbeing of little ones, there are many areas to be aware of. Health and wellness extends far beyond subjects like germs or potential predators, and in order to keep kids healthy throughout all areas of life, it’s important for parents to be aware of each wellness pillar that presents throughout childhood. By preparing for each area of your child’s health needs, you can equip them with the proper tools and life skills to maintain healthy, safe, and wholesome lives.
The 6 Pillars of Childhood Wellbeing
One of the most obvious areas of wellbeing for children is their physical safety. This extends far beyond the home, though includes a healthy home environment free from danger, hazards, and abuse. Outside of the home, your child’s physical safety is made up of thousands of different aspects. A few examples include:
- Leveraging tools and equipment like helmets and knee pads to minimize risk of injury
- Awareness and understanding of the dangers of unsafe people or strangers who could potentially threaten your child’s safety
- Knowledge of seatbelt safety and general traffic rules to avoid accidents as a pedestrian, passenger, or cyclist
- An understanding of risky activities or choices like climbing too high or playing in unsafe environments
Growing up can present dozens of daily conflicts and situations. Equipping your child with the proper tools to cope with difficult emotions, voice concerns, and regulate their feelings are crucial in order to avoid any serious or damaging mental health issues. The CDC and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) both offer a plethora of resources and information to help parents navigate their children’s mental health, especially in the wake of a pandemic. Some of the most common elements of a child’s mental health include:
- Ability to communicate about positive, negative, and neutral feelings
- Understanding of what mental health means
- Ability to self regulate when faced with difficult emotions or situations
- Comfortable environment that is accepting of difficult feelings
This one has been especially popular lately in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Children require social interaction to develop and lead healthy, social lives. Social skills can be difficult to nurture and develop in a world that currently offers limited opportunity for interaction, but there are things you can do to make sure your child is adapting properly.
- Schedule weekly calls with friends or relatives to provide opportunities for interaction with non-immediate family members
- Discuss manners and conversation styles with children at home to help them gain a better understanding of the differences they may encounter
- Check in with your little one to discover if they ever face interactions that they don’t understand or have questions about
- Teach children about eye contact, appropriate forms of touching, the importance of sharing and teamwork, personal space, etc.
As the world ventures further and further into the digital age, internet safety is a top priority for parents. Especially now that so many little ones are leveraging virtual tools to absorb their education! We recently recapped our favorite tools for parents looking to keep their kids safe online – check it out here. To keep kids safe online, it’s important to know all the opportunities children have to run into predators, unsafe content, etc. Be mindful of their engagement with social habits like:
- Public chat rooms in games or on websites
- Inappropriate content on video streaming platforms like YouTube or Netflix
- Viruses, pop ups, or malware
- Video chat with strangers
While many consider this a component of a child’s physical safety, we think it’s deserving of a special callout. Your child’s internal physical health can be more difficult to gauge. Bumps and bruises are visible, illness is (often) not. The Mayo Clinic provides excellent resources to help you inform your decisions about what to feed your child, but we’re also big fans of Kids Eat In Color (aka Jennifer Anderson, MSPH, RDN). Check out her free picky eater guide on Instagram!
As parents, we know you’re busy, and making sure your kids get enough nutrients, vegetables, and proteins is no small feat. We hope these resources make it a little bit easier, but stay tuned for more helpful info coming soon on the Lessy Messy blog!
Beyond your child’s home, school, and community, they are a global citizen, just like the rest of us. And while the world is full of opportunities to learn about nature, science, and humanity, your child’s environment is also made up of factors like pollution, toxic or harmful chemicals, and dangerous weather. Their environmental safety can be preserved and protected by ensuring that your child has a comprehensive understanding of the world’s greatness, and the opportunities we have to protect our planet. Additionally, it’s important for your child to have an understanding of the environmental factors that could potentially pose a threat to our wellbeing. These things include natural disasters, illness, harmful pollutants, and natural gases.
Now that you’ve learned more about the six pillars of childhood wellbeing, you may have observed a few areas that you’d like to emphasize more with your little one. Don’t forget to check out the links we’ve included throughout this article to soak up more helpful resources and tools to have these conversations with your kids!