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How Parent Engagement Makes for Healthier Kids

Every parent wants his or her child to grow up to be a healthy and happy adult. While that aspiration may feel lofty now, know that there are proven steps you can take to help set your little one up for success.

Get involved

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), parents who routinely take part in their children’s school activities, whether academic or extracurricular, are more likely to encourage healthy behaviors at home, like eating a nutritious diet or exercising. Academic support for your child is key: Kiddos who perceive that their guardians support them are more invested in their schoolwork, not to mention less likely to misbehave in the classroom and more likely to be socially engaged, the CDC notes.

There’s a word for this level of involvement: family engagement, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “Families are children’s first, longest lasting, and most important teachers, advocates, and nurturers. Positive parenting and strong family engagement is central — not supplemental — to promoting children’s healthy development and wellness,” the organization noted.

Back to school

About 87 percent of parents believe that their children’s schools have a similar responsibility to tend to youngsters’ physical, academic, and social-emotional learning, according to a 2019 report by Active Schools, an organization that advocates for physical activity in grade schools. If you get involved at your child’s school, the benefits can be numerous, as the CDC pointed out.

Importantly, taking an active role in your child’s life doesn’t end with academic success.

A 2013 study presented at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Exposition suggests that when parents are involved in sex education programs, middle school students, especially boys, are more likely to delay sexual activity. Same goes for preventing child substance abuse, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.  

Family time

Don’t discount the importance of family meals, as these are also paramount. This step goes beyond weight — a 2017 scientific article in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior shows eating together can even lower depressive symptoms and boost emotional well-being in youth. How’s that for an education?

Statistics provided by Alliance for a Healthier Generation

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