Are your military children overweight due to poor food and lifestyle choices? They have this in common with most of America; and a growing percentage of American children under 14 are considered clinically obese.
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Military Lifestyle

HEALTHY LIVING
Playing Games Creates Lifetime Health

What's eating you?

Are your military children overweight due to poor food and lifestyle choices? They have this in common with most of America; and a growing percentage of American children under 14 are considered clinically obese.

You want to teach your military kids to be healthy, but what chance do you have to get their attention? They seem to trust the fast-food commercials on the cartoon network more than you, when it comes to choosing foods. And when they're glued to their computer gaming systems or personal computers without coming up for air, how can you get in any words of wisdom?

Experts are stressed about the health of the American child. They recommend all sorts of solutions: increase your children's physical activity level. Disengage them from activities that promote idleness and substitute active alternatives. Reduce TV time from the average four to six hours per day to no more than one to two hours per day. Remove computers from bedrooms, limit the military household to one television, and designate one family media area only. Or just eliminate the problem by banning all video games, computer games, and televisions from your child's life.

Well, good luck with that.

That's like trying to turn the clock back to 1950, before these things existed in the world. In fact, consider that for your military children as for most other American kids, there never was a world without TV or video games. It's not likely that you'll succeed at getting them to live in the past; and if you try, you'll be fighting constantly, adding a big helping of stress to yours and your children's daily diet. More stress is surely the last thing your military family needs. Even experts agree that stress is the leading contributor, if not the root cause, of most modern illness.

A HEALTHIER APPROACH

If you want to teach your child something important, integrate the lesson into their lives rather than trying to change the lives they are leading. Take a good look at their world; it involves technology, the internet and game playing. Despite experts who call our kids sedentary, kids do love to play, in their own ways.

So how about this: "Come on, Tommy - play with your food!"

Little did parents of the 1950s realize they could succeed best not by demanding that kids just accept and eat what's good for them, but to actually play with their dinners first.

Play is the secret access key that unlocks all learning experiences - and locks them in for life. We are accustomed to thinking of learning as the act of sitting quietly in class, listening to a teacher talk from the front of the room while we take notes passively from our seats, responding only when asked. High reading levels are prized, but how to integrate what you read into how you think isn't considered.

Integrative, whole-person learning is a trend in many public schools that seems to be working. The whole-person technique approaches education at a higher level. It works by integrating different subjects into each lesson, and revolves around experiential learning rather than passive memorization of facts and figures. This type of active learning creates learning through fun and results in lessons not so quickly forgotten after the test, or even after the school years end.

Participation, rather than inactive study, ingrains the learned subject into your child's life. Rather than words on a page, the learned material becomes building blocks that shape they way children come to think, and live.

And what's more interactive for children today than their computers?

We bemoan the fact that kids today are less physically active and blame their more idle bodies for the increase in childhood diseases like asthma, diabetes and obesity. Certainly, moving the body burns calories and builds muscle. But that's not the entire story of physical health, and perhaps it's not even the main chapter.

Exercising the brain can be effective for creating everything from supple minds able to make good personal choices, to healthy bodies immune to illness.

Instead of fighting to bring kids out of their modern world of play, try enlisting their computers as helpmates for teaching them to create healthy bodies and make responsible food choices. Advancing these as important ideas can be just as beneficial as physical activity at the gym.

Stop lecturing and start playing with your children. Sure, you can play tag or hide and seek, kick a soccer ball, or take a walk around the neighborhood together. The key is to have fun. Play at something they enjoy. Try entering their world and seeing things from their side. Don't assume that your definition of physical activity is the best or only choice for your child's play. Let your child choose the fun activities and you'll learn something new, too. Let enjoyment become your child's best teacher.

And remember: children come in all shapes and sizes. Resist the temptation to change or control your child. Accept your military child as he is, and he will be more likely to accept and feel good about himself; and what healthier life lesson is there? Play around with that for awhile.



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