Bad habits can add up and lead to poor health for your child over time. Here are 5 things to stop doing to make your special needs child healthier.
Stop Unlimited Screen Time
TV can be a great learning tool for all children, but especially children with special needs. Signing Time, Baby Einstein, Dora the Explorer – all these and more can be great stimulants in moderation.
The problem we run into is that, after work, it’s tough to muster the energy to physically play with our children or engage with them. Sometimes – or more often than sometimes – TV, video games and mobile games become our substitutes. If the show or game encourages physical activity or interaction, this can be helpful. However, the number one thing to do to improve your child’s health is to stop allowing unlimited screen time.
Stop Giving Food as a Reward
In American culture, it’s the norm to use food as a form of celebration. When we’re having a holiday get-together, we eat. If we do something great at work, we’re rewarded with food. It’s no wonder we continue this habit with our children, rewarding them for their good behavior with unhealthy snacks and desserts.
There’s something to be said about rewarding your children with healthy snacks, but, on the whole, it’s important to encourage your children to eat when they’re hungry, not as a reward or form of entertainment.
Stop Fast Food for Convenience
In a similar vein as unlimited screen time, fast food is a convenient, easy way to make sure everyone in your family eats something that they enjoy. It’s tough to get your child with special needs to try new things, and if they’ve formed a habit of eating McDonald’s every night, then that can pose serious risks to their health. You might try weaning your child off of the habit of eating fast food regularly by:
- Taking a trip to the grocery store to shop regularly for healthy foods, or
- Trying to make your child’s favorite fast food at home, using healthier alternatives.
Stop Doing Everything for Them
Your child has developmental delays that can cause them to perform their daily tasks at a rate much slower than you’re used to. This can tempt you to do things for your child, so you’re out the door faster – like putting on their shoes or picking up their messes. Even though your child performs these tasks slowly, they’re still able to do them. Allowing them to do things for themselves can boost their self-confidence and exercise their brains.
Stop Neglecting Yourself
Your children model everything they do after the things that you do. You can tell them to eat healthier and to do more physical activity all you want, but if they see you eating fast food and watching several hours of TV every night, then that’s what they’ll be inclined to do too. Take care of yourself so that you can be an example of healthy behavior for your child with special needs.
Special Strong provides fitness and nutrition for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs fitness certification courses for personal trainers and service providers who want to work autism and other disabilities.