We have all seen the twenty-second videos of correctly washing your hands. Since the pandemic began, multiple agencies, celebrities, and organizations have focused their campaigns on the importance of washing hands and primarily directed at children. Countries like India went as far as to include a ‘wash your hands’ message whenever someone made a call. For the first time in most of our lives, something as necessary as washing hands gained prominence. But this also left many puzzled and wondering if the habit of washing hands was even a habit before the pandemic. The question does make you think. Why did such a simple habit become such a telling tale? Why do people need reminders? It also reinforces the idea that eventually, the pandemic will be behind us, but what we teach our children today will help them later in life should they face another phenomenon like this in life.
Habits are not acquired in a day. They are the result of doing the same thing diligently over many years. Our health and fitness depend on a variety of factors that include the food we eat, the activities we undertake, habits related to sleep time, and usage of electronic devices. How do children learn what to do? Do they start doing things if told to them? Do they need to be shown how to do it? Will they learn something if they don’t see a family member practice the same thing? Children are often like soft clay and can be molded into the character that you want them to develop. But can it be done by preaching alone? Well, yes and no. The old dictum ‘Practice what you preach’ applies here. Unless the children also see the same behavior pattern from family members, they are more than likely to take a different path sooner or later. It is essential to establish rules early on in life, have a routine, cultivate better-eating habits, and help them realize the importance of hygiene. Parents or guardians need to show how things are done. They need to sit down and talk with kids at different stages to explain to them the importance and why certain things are done the way they are. The awkward conversation is needed to establish an open channel of communication.
Everyday food choices will determine the health of kids later in life. As has been pointed out during this pandemic, obesity is one of the problems that could be disastrous for patients. Children must be taught the importance of eating healthy, and the easiest way to do is show them by example — cooking healthy foods at home. Don’t indulge in sugary drinks or sweets often. Fruits and veggies should be a part of an everyday diet. It is also important to teach kids the need for exercise. Spend time with them outdoors. Go on hikes, bicycle rides, and encourage outdoor playtime.
Most importantly, a sleep routine is what will ensure a healthy life. Children and adults should sleep and wake up at the same time every day. They should take the recommended hours of sleep according to their age. No electronic devices should be used primarily for children, at least two hours before bedtime. Children are quick learners and will adapt to anything as long as you can show them the benefits of leading such a lifestyle. Therefore, for any parent or guardian, they must lead by example in every sphere.
The pandemic will eventually be over. But should these habits continue beyond that? Absolutely. Good hygiene, food habits, active lifestyle can all mitigate our chances of getting infected or being severely affected. There is one more challenging aspect that children need to be taught if they have to survive another catastrophe like this. Teach them to think about the well-being of others along with their own. All these habits collectively will ensure a stronger future for our children and create a healthier generation.