7 Ways to Fuel Your Kid’s Brain

When our cell phones run out of power, we have to recharge them so they’re back to full strength. It’s much the same way with our children. We need to make sure they’re recharged and ready for the next day.

Cheri Harrison, pediatric program coordinator for Memorial Center for Healthy Families, part of Memorial Weight Loss & Wellness Center, shared seven ways you can fuel your kid’s brain and help them develop positive habits that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

1. Start your day with breakfast: Most families start their morning in a rush; working in a good breakfast seems impossible. “Even if you’re in a hurry, you can still grab fresh fruit instead of that sugar-coated pastry,” Harrison said. Other great on-the-go choices: yogurt, granola bars, cheese or lean meats such as turkey bacon. You can also cook breakfast the night before and pop it in the microwave in the morning.

2. Eat a well-balanced diet: With a good breakfast under your belt, make sure the rest of the day is nutritionally balanced. Kids may skip lunch or pick unhealthy options at school. Educate your kids about why to make healthy meal choices and eat a variety of foods. If you model good eating habits, your kids will pick them up.

3. Challenge your child’s mind: Look for opportunities to keep your kids’ minds engaged. Try activities like puzzles, word searches or learning musical notes. Learning different things will keep their minds active. Just don’t overdo it and schedule them for too many activities.

4. Make time for free play: Include some structured downtime. Let kids try their hand at some stress-free activities, maybe painting, drawing or building something. Let them be creative. “Your mind isn’t built to go nonstop all the time,” Harrison said.

5. Exercise regularly: Children need about 60 minutes of daily moderate exercise. Your kids don’t need to hang out at the gym. There are countless activities that can provide the exercise they need: riding bikes, swimming, playing on the playground or going for a nature walk. Find out what they enjoy to keep their bodies moving.

6. Limit the amount of screen time: You won’t be able to keep kids away from their electronic devices; those cell phones, tablets and handheld game consoles are here to stay. However, you can set limits on the amount and type of screen time. Use learning apps to keep their minds engaged during structured free time. Watching movies is OK, but limit the amount.

7. Get adequate sleep: When our kids don’t get adequate sleep, it wears them down. Teach good sleep hygiene to your kids. Shut off screens a half hour before bedtime so your kids can wind down and get into their bedtime routine. Kids who fall asleep with the TV on don’t sleep as restfully. If your children have their own phones, it may be a good idea to turn in the phones before they go to bed.