Bradley Hospital helps you deal with difficult parenting issues in these comprehensive reference sections:
Effective DisciplineCurrent attitudes, ideas and help for parents of toddlers, teens and kids in between.En español
Alcohol & Drug AbuseUnderstanding potential problems, signs of abuse, and tips for prevention and intervention.En español
Depression & SuicideRecognize the signs of depression, why kids fall victim and what you can do to help.En español
Teenage PartiesWhat you don't know can hurt you. Tips for parents of hosts and guests. Plus, ideas for a successful bash.En español
Life's Difficult ChangesSymptoms of transitional difficulty in parents and kids and advice for dealing with change.En español
Parent/Child CommunicationFeel like you're from different planets? Here's how to find middle ground.En español
Childhood ChoresWhy household chores are important for kids and teens.En español
Healthful LeisureA little leisure might be just what your family needs. Why leisure time is important and how to add more to your life.En español
Rhode Island Parents' Guide to Children's Mental Health (PDF 5.07mb)Have questions about common children's mental health problems? Download this one-stop resource for those answers plus information about advocacy organizations and support groups.
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Being in shape and at a healthy weight is important for everyone, but kids don't need to play by the same rules as adults to get there.
In general, in shape means being at an appropriate weight, being flexible and having strong muscles, including a strong heart. But while most adults require specific types of exercise to stay strong and improve cardiovascular endurance, children just need to be active.
"The physical activity recommendation for children is approximately 60 minutes per day," says Barbara Robinson, RD, MPH, pediatric nutrition specialist at Hasbro Children's Hospital. "However, children do not have to exercise at a target heart rate to reap the benefit of activity, so it should be met through enjoyable play such as a game of tag, kicking a soccer ball or even walking to school when safe."
Beyond physical benefit, national research shows activity is important for kids not only for fitness, but also because it encourages relaxation and the development of resiliency, confidence and competence.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is the tool typically used to assess weight status. It evaluates weight based on height. Because children go through many stages of growth, healthy BMIs values for children frequently change and vary from those for adults.
"Parents need to be informed. They should understand that childhood obesity is a problem, and that there are real health risks associated with it," says Robinson.
In previous decades, fewer kids were overweight and as heavy as many kids are today. As a result, medical problems such as type 2 diabetes are becoming prevalent in adolescents and even in young children at startling rates.
"While many factors can account for this change, our contemporary environment is a major contributor," says Robinson. "We ride instead of walk. Our kids face processed foods at home, school and in restaurants, and spend far too many hours in front TVs, video games and computers-a significant risk factor for childhood obesity."
There are two sides to every coin, and some parents feel their child may be too thin.
"If a child's height growth is good for their age, using a standard pediatric growth chart as a guide, then they are receiving enough calories and protein," says Robinson. "Some children have a 'lean' body type, and growing well in height is usually an indicator of adequate nutrition."
Parents should always discuss concerns with their child's pediatrician, who can plot their child's height and weight on a growth chart and discuss their progression. If necessary, pediatricians may recommend testing for truly underweight children to check for underlying conditions.
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