Parenting is an incredible journey filled with rewarding moments and challenges alike. For parents navigating raising children, it’s essential to embrace flexibility, patience and open communication. Through a blend of guidance, both from personal experience and licensed experts in the local area, parents can help their kids develop good habits that keep them happy and healthy long after they grow up.

Keeping active is a great way for kids to keep healthy. In this generation, there are countless different activities for kids to get involved with, so there is something for everyone. At Play It Forward, a youth sports organization that teaches young athletes multiple sports through the coaching and leadership from high school student-athletes, they recognize the importance of exposing kids to as many activities as possible so they can find something they like.

Peter Walls
Play It Forward

“One of the most important ways to keep kids healthy and active in today’s generation is simply to provide kids with an opportunity to play and have fun. The more kids enjoy a sport or activity, the more likely it is that they will want to continue doing it,” shared Peter Walls, Executive Director of Play It Forward. “I also think it’s important for kids to participate in multiple sports and avoid specializing in a sport, especially at a young age. By playing multiple sports young athletes develop different skills, increase their coordination and athleticism, experience different challenges and avoid injury and burnout as they grow older. In addition, playing multiple sports naturally leads to more teammates and ultimately more friends. This has a huge impact on a young person’s confidence and overall mental health.”

Play It Forward is dedicated to cultivating a genuine passion for physical activity among children by offering a diverse range of sports experiences. Beyond the immediate health advantages, the organization aims to foster a sense of joy and camaraderie among young participants. Whether scoring a goal, mastering a new skill or enjoying friendly competition, Play It Forward seeks to establish a positive and enduring connection between children and a variety of sports.

If your child wants to specialize in one sport, Matthew Paeth, as the Executive Director of Nebraska USA Wrestling, emphasizes the importance of keeping kids healthy and active by advocating for the sport of wrestling.

Matthew Paeth
Nebraska USA Wrestling

“As the Executive Director of Nebraska USA Wrestling, our commitment to keeping kids healthy and active in today’s generation revolves around the transformative power of wrestling. It not only builds physical strength, but also cultivates discipline, resilience and a strong sense of community. My advice to parents is to embrace the sport, encouraging their children to participate, as wrestling not only shapes athletes, but also instills life skills that extend far beyond the mat, fostering holistic growth and well-being,” shared Matthew.

Nebraska USA Wrestling, a nonprofit entity, is dedicated to advocating for amateur wrestling across Nebraska’s diverse age groups. By focusing on educating, promoting and organizing wrestling in various styles including collegiate and international, their affiliation with USA Wrestling enables them to advance all facets of the sport within the state. Understanding that their efforts can make wrestling a diverse and enriching activity, Nebraska USA Wrestling believes in positively impacting numerous families through the multifaceted nature of this sport, enriching the lives of participants and their communities.

As Nebraska USA Wrestling points out, keeping kids healthy is about more than just activity. It’s about building good habits too – for a variety of things.

Kids’ health is about activities, doctor’s appointments, education and so much more. Turning kids into healthy adults means instilling good habits such as brushing their teeth daily – something that Pediatric Dental Specialists highly recommends.

As a parent, it is important to schedule early dental appointments for your kids to foster a positive relationship with dental care. By providing a vibrant, playful office setting and engaging activities, such as using toys to demonstrate oral care, Pediatric Dental Specialists aims to make these appointments enjoyable for young children. Through these positive experiences, toddlers gradually become more at ease with dental care, cultivating long-term oral health habits that contribute to maintaining a healthy smile as they grow.

During your toddler’s initial dental visit, one of Pediatric Dental Specialists’ dentists will ask questions about your child’s diet and eating habits. A toddler’s first visit will consist of a knee-to-knee exam where the child will sit on the parent’s lap for the evaluation, which involves teeth cleaning with a toothbrush and toothpaste. This approach persists until around age three or until the child feels at ease transitioning to a big kid dental chair. As your child becomes more comfortable with subsequent visits, their dentist will gradually introduce dental instruments and polishing paste.

Dr. Ben Reimer Pediatric Dental Specialists

Prior to your toddler’s first visit, Dr. Ben Reimer suggests a few tips to help make dental visits fun. “Role-play dental check-ups at home, read dental-themed books, watch engaging videos demonstrating tooth brushing and involve your child in choosing colorful or character-themed toothbrushes, this will help paint dental hygiene in a positive light. It is also important to lead by example by showing enthusiasm for dental care and regular brushing, inspiring your child to adopt healthy habits.”

It is also important to keep on top of eye health with young children. Regular eye check-ups and proper eye care can significantly contribute to their overall well-being. Early detection of any potential vision issues is essential for addressing them promptly and ensuring healthy visual development.

Parents and caregivers should be attentive to signs of vision problems in children, such as squinting, rubbing eyes frequently, holding objects very close or complaining of headaches. Encouraging good eye care habits, such as limiting screen time, ensuring proper lighting during reading or other activities and promoting outdoor play, can also contribute to maintaining healthy eyes.

Dr. Michelle Meyer
Family Eyecare by Dr. Michelle

According to Dr. Michelle Meyer Strawhecker, Optometrist and Owner of Family Eyecare by Dr. Michelle, “Engaging with children in outdoor play and exploring nature helps both sensory and motor skills in children. It has been linked to improved cognitive function, increased attention spans and reduced stress levels. On the flip side, prolonged exposure to screens can lead to eye related conditions, such as dry eyes, headaches and even blurred vision. It’s important for parents to understand the negative long-term effects digital devices have in the critical early years of a child’s development.”

Routine eye examinations by an eye care professional are highly recommended by Family Eyecare by Dr. Michelle, even if there are no apparent issues, to monitor and address any potential concerns early on. Prioritizing eye health in childhood lays the foundation for lifelong well-being and optimal vision.

Another facet of kids’ health is education. At Yellow Brick Road ECDC (YBR), they provide a child-derived curriculum that engages children in their learning and involves them in determining topics of interest. This approach aims to enhance information retention and instill a sense of empowerment, emphasizing that children play a significant role in their education. The curriculum includes hands-on activities, music, movement and “brain breaks” conducted in outdoor classrooms and gyms. Being based in the Midwest, the institution faces weather challenges, but maintains an energetic environment through various activities.

Additionally, Yellow Brick Road ECDC offers catered meal options to guarantee fresh, nutritious meals so that teachers can focus on the students themselves. It’s never easy to convince a toddler to eat vegetables, but when you have a whole lesson plan on why broccoli makes your bones strong like Superman or makes your cuts heal better like Wolverine or keeps you healthy so you can play longer… you’d be surprised how many toddlers want their broccoli snack!

Jessica Johnsen
Yellow Brick Road Early Childhood Development Center

For parents, Yellow Brick Road ECDC wants you to know that you are doing a great job. The institution’s mission is to bring good humans into the world and leave it better than they found it. This commitment translates into being a source of help and support for parents in their parenting journey. Yellow Brick Road ECDC encourages parents to communicate with their teachers and the school to address struggles effectively or to share their challenges openly. You may not think your infant teacher has been through the exact same experience or the school age teacher has seen what you’ve seen… but they have. They are the village. Let them help you and see the difference it makes.

“We have grown from four to 18 locations in three states in a matter of two years. Our core values drive us to succeed,” shared Jessica Johnsen. “We are woman-owned and operated with local owners in the Midwest who have diverse backgrounds in childcare. They love YBR and live out the mission perfectly with grace and leadership! We welcome you to come see the difference at any of our locations.”

Starting the adventure of parenthood is a big decision, and it comes with both great moments and challenges. As parents navigate the journey of raising kids, it is important to be flexible, patient and keep open communication. Parents can find guidance from personal experiences and advice from local experts. Sharing wisdom plays a crucial role as parents assist their children in forming good habits that will last a lifetime.