When the summer doldrums hit, offer your kids these suggestions:
- Let’s bike, take a hike or dash to Splash (Splash Montana that is!) The idea is to encourage your child to be physically active. Twenty percent of school age kids are currently obese, and the numbers are even higher for adults. Too little physical activity is partly to blame. If you can encourage your kids to be active at a young age, they’re more likely to stay active as adults—and be healthier as a result. Be active together and you can enjoy some quality family time and set a good example—something that’s crucial when you want to change your child’s behavior.
- Let’s grow a garden! It’s not too late to plant some seeds and watch them grow—or even to put some seedlings in a container pot. Research shows kids are more likely to eat fresh produce (a key to better health!) when they grow it themselves! Gardening also provides an opportunity to teach your kids about basic science and the environment. Even math lessons are possible as you watch your plants get bigger. Added benefits: Evidence suggests gardening can be good for kids’ mental health (it may improve mood and decrease anxiety) and physical health (it’s possible getting a little dirty once in a while boosts kids’ immune systems!)
- Let’s read a book! Books are great for everyone, but especially youngsters. Reading to your child provides quality time together that pays dividends down the road. According to Reading is Fundamental, “Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word.” When the rhythm and melody of language become part of a child’s life, learning to read will be as natural as learning to walk and talk. “
- Let’s volunteer! There are all kinds of volunteer activities families can do together. Whether it’s taking care of an elderly neighbor’s yard, picking up trash along a trail or helping at the Missoula Marathon, volunteering teaches kids about community and helps them understand that they can make a difference in the world. What’s more, it helps kids develop a sense of responsibility and come to understand that there are more important things in life than themselves.
- Let’s show gratitude! It can be tough to teach kids gratitude, but it is important. Being grateful lessens feelings of entitlement and promotes empathy. Long-term, research suggests that when compared to less grateful people, those who are grateful have less stress and depression and more happiness and optimism. For a simple gratitude exercise, work with your child to write a thank you letter to a grandparent, teacher or veteran. While you’re at it, you might take a minute to tell your child why you’re grateful for him or her!
Need more ideas or help implementing them at home? Call us for information about an individualized parenting class, 406.721.7690.