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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

Be a champion to your child

Posted: 10 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Children do as you do; so live healthily and be good role models.

If you're like most parents, you probably teach your children all that's important to you. You'd explain why they are important, and you'd remind your child why he should do the things he's supposed to do.

As well-meaning parents pushing our children to achieve their goals and triumph in life, we sometimes fail to reflect and ask ourselves if we are positive influences on our young ones. Are we good role models?

Parents are the first individuals that children come in contact with. Between the age of seven and 12, children are at their most impressionable.

This is the time they imitate the mannerisms and absorb the qualities of those closest to them.

As parents, we are most responsible for our children's upbringing and welfare, especially with regards to their mental and functional developments.

At times, with a million things to do, we may not be fully aware that we are being closely watched by our little ones.

It is through our example that children learn and adopt habits, attitudes and values.

During this time, children are highly susceptible to influences as they have yet to have fully formed identities.

They require constant guidance and reassurance from us as they search for their place in this big world.

Eating balanced meals and exercising regularly are not only good for our children but for us as well. Some of us sometimes neglect to eat well and stay active, and we blame it on our hectic lifestyle. Unfortunately, this does not set a good example for our children to follow.

As role models to our children, we should take the first step and encourage our young ones to lead a healthy lifestyle.

"We can start our day positively with a healthy breakfast. A child's rapid growth results in a need for a balance of 55-70% of carbohydrates, 10-15% of protein and 20-30% of fat. Combined with regular exercise, these nutrients will ignite the Positive Energy within us.

"Positive Energy enables us to have the positive mindset to take on the day's challenges, making us champions," says Nestle Products' senior nutritionist Nurul Iliani Ahmad.

Five healthy breakfasts

Nourishing your body with a well-balanced meal plays a vital role in maximising the benefits of exercise, thus unlocking the Positive Energy within us. Start today with a breakfast containing essential nutrients to tackle the day's challenges.

Here are five tips for a healthy nutritious breakfast.

> Use as many different coloured fruits and vegetables as possible. They are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber which are naturally low in fat.

Each different coloured fruits and vegetables has their health benefits. For instance, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots and papaya are packed with nutrients that can help strengthen a child's immune system and eyes.

Purple fruits and vegetables such as dragon fruit and eggplant are loaded with nutrients that promote youthful healthy skin.

> Opt for complex carbohydrates. Choose foods such as wholemeal bread, oatmeal and whole grain cereals which contain complex carbohydrates. They are digested slowly by the body, thus providing longer lasting energy. Complex carbohydrates are perfect for your children's fast-growing bodies, as it helps power them during their morning in school. It helps them concentrate better in class and prevents them from tiring out easily even after participating in physical activities

> Limit food high in salt, sugar and fat. Childhood is the best time for children to adopt healthy eating. Make sure to limit intake of high fat, sugar and salt foods as these are harmful to both adults and children as it is associated with many health-related diseases. 

A high or regular intake of these foods in childhood will contribute to higher risk of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure or heart disease in their future. We should keep in mind that what we put into our bodies may not have an immediate impact but a factor to how we are later in life.

> Serve a balanced mix of food groups in a meal. Be creative; mix and match foods. This allows for a nutritious breakfast as it contains all the essential nutrients. For instance, create a vegetable omelette with a side of toasted whole grain bread for breakfast. Eggs provide great source of protein, a much needed source for building and repairing muscles for children and adults, while vegetables is a source of vitamin, mineral and dietary fiber. Toasted whole grain bread fills your quota of carbohydrates. 

A bowl of oatmeal cereal made with skimmed milk and chopped banana is another good choice for a balanced breakfast. Oatmeal cereal with skimmed milk contains adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, protein and vitamins and minerals. The chopped bananas are a source of dietary fibre that also contain potassium which helps lower systolic blood pressure.

> Always have a nutritious beverage, a drink which contains a balanced ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fat such as a mug of Milo. Nutrients such as Protomalt and Actigen E found in Milo aid in releasing optimal energy for our children's growing bodies and sustain us with sufficient energy to go about our daily tasks

Be a champion for the family

Keeping our mind and body active and alert will energise us. A nutritious breakfast serves as power for the brain and energy for the body. The same goes for our children. Spending time with our children, doing activities such as playing board games helps to exercise the mind while keeping it active and stimulated. 

Teaching them a new sport or a visit to the park to play football are good physical exercises for the family. Physical exercise helps to regulate our excess energy and keep our health in check.

Once our children see us enjoying the time spent with them, it will let them know that they are doing something good. They will then be encouraged to adopt these positive habits.

With the formula of Positive Energy and the benefits of its components, we are armed with the right elements in shaping ourselves to set out the goals we wish to achieve.

Keeping our little ones close, they will recognise the champions in us while we bring out the champion in them.

Practising good habits together as a family will have a positive impact on our children. Leading by example and allowing for open communication will make us champions in our children's eyes.

>> This article is provided by Milo.

Unleash your child's power of imagination by playing along

Posted: 10 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Go along with your children on their adventures, and let their creativity rule.

When children embark on an adventure, it opens up their minds, widens their experiences and offers them an avenue to go beyond their boundaries.

"Children have wild imaginations and they can come up with several games just by using their minds. For example, a child may sit on a chair and imagine it to be a car or a plane.

"As parents, instead of saying no and reprimanding them for messing up the furniture, we have to play our role by encouraging and joining them on these little made-up adventures," says Kits4Kids Foundation founder Prof Dr Eric Lim.

He categorises adventures as intellectual adventures and contemporary adventures.

According to Lim, when children use their imagination and play using objects around the house, it's intellectual adventure. Intellectual adventure also includes building blocks, colouring pictures, playing outdoor games and embarking on activities that stimulate their minds.

"During this stage of a child's life, they are able to process information, reason, develop language skills and enhance other aspects of brain development," says Lim. adding that creating a sense of adventure helps in the cognitive development of a child.

"Contemporary adventure, on the other hand, is when a child seeks adventure through digital devices such as playing computer games and using other smart devices to keep them entertained. While this type of adventure also stimulates brain functionality, it can lead to addiction.

"This is where parents need to learn to strike a balance between digital-game-time and non-digital-game-time. However, sometimes both these adventures can take place in a day, to offer a child variation," says Dr Lim during a recent Tiger Biskuat NutriFruit's briefing on "Living an Adventurous Life with Your Child".

Actress Sharifah Sofia Syed Hussein is a believer in adventure and she encourages her two daughters to play out their imaginations.

"My eldest daughter, Sharifah Ariana, has a wild imagination. She goes around our house creating play spots in different corners and turns each spot into a fun location. For instance, one day she decided to take me to the beach and used clothes from our laundry basket to make sandcastles," shares the amused mother.

To Sharifah and her daughters, their imaginative play is what defines an epic adventure.

"I let my children do what they like as long as it doesn't endanger them.

"When I was a kid, my life was full of adventure. From little things like playing hide and seek, to climbing a tree and hiding in the drain, each day was a new discovery.

"Even though we live in the digital era, I am keen to expose my daughters to more than computer games and show them the world outside," says Sharifah who professes to having a vivid imagination.

Parents these days are, however, wary of letting their children run free outdoors. Lim suggests parents get together to organise activities so they will be better able to watch over their children.

"Instead of limiting our kids from going outside on bike rides, for example, what we can do is seek help from other parents who are willing to oversee a play date.

"Look for homemakers, or even teenagers looking to make babysitting money, to help out. If we form a group and stay together, we can offer our children the freedom they want and at the same time keep them safe," says Lim.

It is important for parents to understand that creating adventures will also help children reach their full potential.

"As parents, we must ensure we do everything in our power to unleash our children's unique qualities," says Lim.

Sharifah often tries to lead her own mini family adventures.

"A child's creativity should not be limited and they should be allowed to explore and discover new things. Put your smartphones away for a couple of hours a day and use that time to create simple adventures with your children which you can be part of, too.

"There are many ways parents can ensure their children have exciting, memorable adventures and the best part is most of it can be done in the comfort of your own home.

"An indoor scavenger hunt is an adventure children and their parents can embark on during rainy days. Have a picnic or camp out in your own backyard.

"On lazy days, try coming up with new recipes in the kitchen with your children.

"Let their creativity run wild and you'll be amazed at the outcome," says Sharifah, adding that fun adventures are also great for bonding with her children.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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