Encouraging children to maintain a healthy lifestyle

by Zara Razzaq

Being a teacher has made me realize one thing. I’m not just a teacher. I am a mentor, a friend to the little ones, a nurturer and almost a mother to roughly 40 kids. Why do I say this?! Because I am responsible for their mental and physical well-being for those 8 hours of school every single day.  

It’s been 4 years to my teaching experience. I am an elementary teacher and it has been nothing but a roller coaster ride. It’s exhausting, it drains me out to the core, there is so much work that sometimes I feel I’m unable to manage my time. But there is one reason why I chose this profession; because it makes me happy. It makes me feel rewarded. When those curious minds ask the most interesting questions, it makes me realize that these children have so much going on in their minds, and we need to give them all the chances to let their creativity flourish. This can only happen through us adults as their facilitators. And that makes me proud!

Photo by Arthur Krijgsman on Pexels.com

Many parents have told me that they would like me to guide their children with specific do’s and don’ts of the daily routine because I have a major influence on them. They listen to me more than their own parents! This makes me even more accountable to everything they do, say or feel. 

Recently, I’ve been teaching the kids about having a happy and healthy lifestyle and its impact on our well-being. But before getting into the details of this, I would like us all to understand what being healthy really means and what our well-being is all about.  Our well-being is the state of being happy, healthy and comfortable with our lifestyle and surroundings. How do we achieve that? And more importantly, how do we instill this very thought within our children? The thought of being content, happy, complete and pleased with wherever you are, with whatever you have…

As a teacher, I’ve noticed how flexible and open-minded children are. I deal with 7-year-olds and even though they do not exactly know the meaning of mental health or depression, they know precisely how to define happiness, and that is exactly what we need to keep our children’s mental health intact to develop a constructive future for them.

I’d like to share an in-class discussion that was recorded in the form of a virtual mind map. This was the starting point of our discussion about what our health and well-being is affected by. It is important to note here that every single point added in this mind map was stated by the students… which means, we are pretty much on the right track as far as our health is concerned.  

The above mind map clearly goes to show that life is pretty basic and simple. If the kids adhere to all these factors from a young age, it is certain that they will never have health issues, whether they’re mental or physical.

When my students were asked about why our health and well-being is so important, their responses amazed me. 

It might seem basic, but all of this came from the minds of 6-7 year olds. I was stunned when one of my students said, “When we are happy, we feel like visiting our family and friends.” I perceived this as the opposite of isolation. If you think of her statement in its exact opposite, what she was trying to say was that when we are unhappy or unhealthy, we don’t feel like socializing; and that’s where mental health comes in. So even though they don’t really know what isolation and loneliness is, they definitely understand the effect of a happy lifestyle on our minds and our bodies. 

When asked, “What makes you happy?”, I got the usual responses: “my family, friends, toys, going out, playing games, school, etc etc… There was one student who said, “Rain makes me happy.” How beautiful! How simple! I realized that it’s the simple things that matter most. The more we delve into unnatural things, the more complicated our life becomes. We start taking nature for granted.

Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

Teach your kids to appreciate the simplest things in life. Connect with them on an emotional basis. Encourage them to organize themselves from a young age. By organizing, I don’t mean just cupboards and shelves, rather manage their basic routine, like waking up on time, taking a shower every day, feeling fresh and maintaining cleanliness personally and for their surroundings too. Make them count their blessings. Let them be grateful for being able to live a new day, everyday. Take them out on a nature walk. Make them understand how lucky we are to be able to see four different seasons of nature. Ask them to look at the sky and observe how beautifully God has painted the clouds. Count the twinkling stars at night. Hear the chirping birds. Look at the different types of plants, animals, trees. All of nature’s beauty; because if nature doesn’t bring peace, then I am not really sure what does… 😊 

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Zara Razzaq is a dedicated elementary school teacher in a well-reputed school in Lahore, Pakistan. She is a good listener, a sincere friend and she loves to spend time with her family and friends. She is also a big foodie and loves trying and exploring new things.

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