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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Healthy Life Choices for Children

Healthy Life Choices for Children

Children of the age group 2- 6 years old are categorized as the early childhood developmental age group. "Physical movement is a hallmark of early childhood, and dramatic changes occur in both gross motor skills and fine motor skills" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 109). Gross motor skills such as running, climbing, throwing, and jumping are developed during the early childhood developmental age group; these skills help a child to move around his or her environment easily (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004).
Fine motor skills are also developed at this time, and these skills enable a child to use his or her hands more skillfully. Children of this age group are more capable of drawing and cutting (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004). Fantasy is also an integral part of this age group and children will pretend that they are "superheroes and villains, cowboys and cowgirls, astronauts and aliens" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004).
The middle childhood developmental age group includes children of the ages 6 - 10 years old, and during this period of time children will refine their motor skills, learn social lessons, and become more aware of their physical appearance. Gross motor skills will be refined and they will become more systematic.
Children will hone their athletic skills as they "intensify their speed and coordination in running, kicking, catching, and dribbling" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p.110). Fine motor skills will also increase as children of this age group create drawings that are more "detailed and complex" due to "physiological maturation and cognitive advances" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 110).
Children of this age will start learning valuable social lessons such as how to "negotiate over rules" and figure out "whose turn" it is . (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 110).
This is also a period of time when children will become more aware of and concerned with their physical appearance, and they can be critical of themselves and sensitive (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 110).
There are many factors that influence the physical well being of a child, but the three main factors are eating habits, sleep and rest, and physical activity (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 116). A child's eating habits "influences their energy level, ability to concentrate, and capacity for performing physical and mental tasks"; it also "affects their physical growth, brain development, and sexual maturation" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 116).
"A common feature of physical activity in early and middle childhood is rough-and tumble play, or good-natured "fighting" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 116). During early childhood children participate a lot in physical activity, but in middle childhood there is a decrease in physical activity. Sleep and rest play an important role in the physical well being of children, and "nightmares are common between the age of 3 and 6" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 116). Lack of sleep can result in irritability and hard transitions.
There are some simple decisions than can be made by children of the early and middle childhood age group in order to benefit their physical well being. A well balanced diet of nutrition is a healthy lifestyle choice that can be made. "Unfortunately, practitioners often encounter children who are poorly fed, perhaps because their parents have few financial resources, are homeless, are physically or mentally ill, or simply do not have access to appropriate nutrition", and this is a sad state of affairs (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 116). good nutrition is extremely important for all people, especially growing children.
An active lifestyle is important because it teaches children many life lessons, and it keeps them in good physical shape. Organized sports are a good way for middle childhood developmental age groups to stay active, and early childhood developmental age groups become increasingly active because they derive so much pleasure of physical activity (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004). Efficient sleep and rest is another healthy life choice that children can make. "Sleeping and resting are essential to growth and health.
Sleep actually helps young people to grow, because growth hormones are released at higher rates as children snooze. In addition to promoting growth, sleep may help the brain to maintain normal functioning and promote its development" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 122). Healthy life choices are important for children of all ages, and adult. Healthy life choices not only promote physical health and growth, but these choices help support a healthy mental state.
"The prevalence of childhood obesity has increased over the last few decades, as has the number of children who are extremely overweight", and "childhood obesity is a concern because it may lead to serious health risks, especially in adulthood" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p.117). Children who do not have a well balanced diet are in danger of making poor health choices that will have a serious impact on their lives. "Becoming excessively involved in sports and exercise can present medical problems for children" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p.117).
Children are still growing and physical activity is good for them, but too much can strain and wear on their bodies can be harmful. Insufficient sleep and rest directly affects children. Sleep is essential to early and middle childhood because children produce more hormones that help them grow when they are sleeping. Sleep also increases the body and mind's ability to focus and react (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004).
A child's development may be altered by inherited or environmental factors. "All children get sick now and then, but some have ongoing, long-term illnesses as a result of genetic legacies" (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p.133). These illnesses are not the child's fault, and the child may be sensitive to these differences. Obesity seems to have some genetic basis, but environmental factors, such as family eating patterns, also play a role (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p.118). Many children are in environments where their eating habits are not regulated, and they are not taught healthy eating patterns. The environment a child grows up in and the genetics a child is born with directly affects a child's growth.
Reference:
McDevitt, T., & Ormrod, J. (2004). Child Development: Educating and Working with Children and Adolescents (2nd ed.). : Prentice Hall

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