As I sat with my teen son at an appointment, we reminisced about a doctor’s visit he had at ten years old. Here’s the story…
My son recently had his annual physical. I had forgotten about the questions the doctor asks or I would have prepared my son and myself. But what ten year old can’t speak for himself? The doctor asked, “How many times a day do you brush your teeth?” I looked away because I knew the answer and it wasn’t good. There was a pregnant pause as my son stared at the doctor with a smirk on his face.
I finally blurted out, “One time a day.” The ugly truth was out, I didn’t follow through to make sure my son brushed as he should. Although I tell him repeatedly to brush, I don’t stand over him to be sure it is done (clearly this is what he needs).
The doctor tried her hand at reasoning with my son. She said, “You have to brush on a regular basis. What if you go to school and someone says you have stinky breath?” My son softly replied, “It doesn’t matter what other people think of me.” I silently thought to myself, you’re on your own doc.”
I’m glad my son has a positive self-image, but sometimes I wish he would learn when to use it. The volley of questions and answers continued. “Do you eat fruits and vegetables?” the doctor asked.
“Yes, when my mom gives them to me.”
Oh, sure the ball was back in my court now. Of course I provide fruits and vegetables. My son even knows the number of servings he should have each day.
“Do you drink milk?” She continued.
“Only when I eat cereal.”
The doctor looked at me and suggested giving the kids a multivitamin daily. “Chewable vitamins are sufficient and they taste pretty good too,” she said looking at my son.
“Can I get the gummie ones?” my son said with a wide grin.
I’m sure the doctor wasn’t sad to see us leave. She had experienced my daily challenge first hand. My kids understand what it means to be healthy. The challenge is getting them to practice healthy living (eating balanced meals, brushing teeth regularly, etc.).
A fun website for teaching kids about health and nutrition is Nourish Interactive The site has interactive games that teach kids about the food pyramid. It also tells them how to balance eating and activity. There are individual sections for kids, parents and educators.
If you have a picky eater, Help Guide lists tips for introducing new foods to your child. The list included: present only one new food at a time, serve new foods with favorite foods to increase acceptance, make it fun: cut the food into unusual shapes. Be patient. Studies show that, “it takes the average child 8-10 presentations of a new food before he or she willingly accepts it.”
Whether its a well-child visit to the doctor or trying to get your child to eat veggies, teaching kids to practice good health can be a challenge. Tips from the experts and a little patience seem to be the ingredients to meet the challenge head on.