7 Parenting Tips For Raising Healthy, Happy Kids

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7 Of The Best Parenting Tips For Raising Healthy, Happy Kids

Every mom and dad ultimately wants the same thing: To raise healthy and happy kids who grow up to be healthy and happy adults.

But the time flies by and your children grow up faster than you might think, so it's important to make the most of this time while you can. This doesn't mean that you have to lie awake at night reading the best parenting tips or give your child everything they want in hopes of providing a brighter future.

When it comes to good parenting, what your child needs most is you — whether they want to admit it or not.

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So, the best thing you can do as a parent is spend time with your kids.

Plus, when you're fully present with your children, you can put even more good parenting tactics into practice that support your ultimate goal of raising successful, thriving adults.

Here are 7 of the best parenting tips for raising healthy, happy kids.

1. Learn to say "no."

In the short term, this will not make them happy (and might even feel like bad parenting), but it the long run, it will pay off. Kids don't have to be happy all the time.

I'm sure while you were growing up your parents said "no", and now you can see why. This will also help your kids set boundaries for themselves. When children don't hear the word "no", they don't learn to say the word "no" either.

2. Make sure they feel heard.

The best parenting advice is just to listen. Listening is one of the best things you can do for your child. When a child feels like you are truly listening, they feel loved.

However, kids can tell when you aren't listening, too — like when you are watching TV or talking/texting on the phone. So, make sure to turn off all electronic gadgets when they are talking.

Set aside some time each day to listen to how their day went. Make sure to make appropriate eye contact and give positive feedback.

3. Let them make choices.

Children are always being told what to do. This makes them feel like they can never make a choice for themselves, so try and create opportunities for them to make choices of their own.

For example, let your child decide what to eat, or have for dinner (within reason). Let them pick out their clothes for school, even if it's not what you would choose. Give them options for activities, such as letting them decide if they would like to go to the park after school or watch a movie at home.

This will help your child feel empowered and build confidence.

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4. Let them express their emotions.

Children need to get their emotions out, so encourage them to express their feelings. Whether it is yelling, crying, stomping their feet or laughing, they can't be expected to keep it all in. And, if kids don't learn to express their emotions, it will come out in other ways, like health problems or anxiety and depression.

When you let your child express their emotions, this lets them know that you love them unconditionally. As long as they express their emotion in healthy ways and don't hurt anyone, it's all right.

5. Let them play.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but schedule unstructured play time into your parenting plan. This will help them with their imagination and allow them to relieve stress and simply be children. Today, many children are so overscheduled and overwhelmed that it makes the idea of free play time seem impossible.

Try to resist the urge to sign your child up for every activity that comes along. This can actually create stress and anxiety for your child. Next weekend, make a point to leave some time unstructured and enjoy it.

6. Eating on time and having healthy meals.

Food is fuel for the body. If kids go too long without eating, their blood sugar levels can fluctuate. This can also lead to unnecessary irritability.

It's also important to make the fuel count. This means eating nutrient-rich foods, like lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and avoiding too much sugar. Recent studies have shown that a high sugar diet can contribute to ADHD or type 2 diabetes.

Remember to eat the colors of the rainbow and look for ways to sneak vegetables into meals to keep your kids healthy.

7. Be happy yourself.

It's really true — you can't take care of anyone else unless you are taking care of yourself. What is your self-care like?

Schedule time for yourself every day, even if it's just five minutes of deep breathing or meditation. Take a bubble bath, go for a walk on the beach, or get a massage. This will help make you feel good, which will make you happy.

When you are stressed out and unhappy, your child will sense it. You really are their role model. So, start practicing good self-care today.

We are what we think, so stop listening to your brain when it is telling you lies that sabotage your happiness. Also, don't overbook yourself and make sure to get plenty of rest.

Happiness is contagious. If you are happy, then it will rub off on your child.

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Lianne Avila is a licensed marriage and family therapist who can help you and your family regain happiness in your life. For more help, please visit her website.

This article was originally published at Lessons for Love. Reprinted with permission from the author.