September 28, 2022

Parenting is hard, but building healthy habits doesn’t have to be

Being a parent is hard.

Being a parent during a post-pandemic age in which technology is consuming us, is even harder. We want our children to be physically and mentally healthy, but sometimes we can’t quite figure out how to navigate this new world. As a pediatrician and mother of 11-year-old twins and a 7-year-old child, I would like to share a few things I’ve learned that have helped my family.

First, you must never forget that you are the boss. Is your three-nager running your house? Has everyone just adjusted to what the little ones want to avoid temper tantrums and meltdowns? Are you all tip-toeing around your 15-year-old who never comes out of their room? Has social media/YouTube/video games taken over your life and theirs? I ask these questions because they have become reality for many. As a mother, I completely understand that sometimes devices keep children occupied so we can get things done. In our house, we use the family link app to regulate how long they can be online and monitor all websites visited. During the week, no video games are allowed so they can stay focused on their “job,” which is helping around the house and school work. Good parenting includes setting limits and boundaries, which help our children grow into well-rounded adults.

Second, we must feed our children REAL foods that are nourishing their bodies and minds. Oftentimes abnormal behaviors and acting out are related to poor diets. You’d be surprised how much increasing water and removing additives such as red and yellow dyes, MSG, high fructose corn syrup and others may impact behavior. Start as early as possible so that they have a wide variety of foods they have eaten and enjoy. Don’t be afraid to change things up. My children love watching “Chopped Jr.” and we let them help cook and select meals during the week. I know you’re busy and unhealthy food is “fast,” but honestly, preparing meals ahead of time, using a pressure cooker or grabbing a healthy meal from the store can be even faster. My children have tons of activities, so we keep fig bars, wheat crackers and trail mix in the trunk.

Lastly, find time to go outside with your children. Everyone should disconnect and breathe some fresh air. Going outside provides an opportunity to talk, as well as appreciate creation. I learn more about my children when we silence the background noise. Let’s not forget how valuable vitamin D is, which increases the more we are exposed to the sun. So many of us can feel depressed because we simply don’t have enough of this powerful vitamin.

I hope these tips are painless for you to implement over the next few months. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re so tired you don’t know where to start. It will take time. Children love to test us, but we have to show them who is really running the show.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Dr. Noor Jihan Abdul-Haqq

Dr. Noor Jihan Adbul-Haqq is owner of Peace of Mind Pediatrics in Del City.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Disconnecting from screens can help build healthy habits in families