It’s impossible to protect your child from everything but there are things you can do to keep them healthy and happy in general…

Being a parent can be challenging but, at the end of the day, we only want what’s best for our children. This is why we set rules, buy child-harnesses, baby-proof our homes, read all the parenting books and always have an eye on our children.

The reality of parenting, however, is that there’s not much to prepare you and only so much you can physically do before your child goes ahead and jumps off the ledge, falls down the stairs, eats the creepy crawlies, picks their nose and puts on the waterworks to make you bend to their every will.

It’s impossible to protect your child from everything but that there are things you can do to keep them healthy and happy in general.

Keep them active

Thankfully, most schools require each capable child to take part in at least one school sport and there is a Physical Education (PE) class to encourage an active lifestyle. Keeping your children active will help them to have more energy during the school day, will boost their self-confidence, prevent them from becoming obese and help their muscles grow strong enough to support their bodies as they develop, reducing the likelihood of complications.

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And if your child isn’t exactly the sporty-type, you need to find something that they enjoy and that can elevate their heart rate. Home exercises, going for hikes as a family, taking the stairs, jumping on a trampoline and running around with friends or pets at home are examples of keeping your child active without forcing them to be part of a sports team or the pressures of a sports club.

Another way to help them be more active (in mind and body) is to limit their screen time every day. Otherwise, their muscles and mind will turn to mush.

READ MORE: Top sporting tips for kids

Balance their extra-mural schedule

As an adult, you don’t always understand or take seriously the “stress” of a child and that’s bad parenting. You want your child to be great at everything and they want to take on every kind of sport or extra-mural but that’s not healthy. You need to critically look at your child’s age and how they manage their academics (which comes first).

If your child is in grade one, there isn’t a workload pile-up that’s preventing them from taking on a busier extramural schedule. Also, they’re at the age where they can trial-and-error what they’re interested in and fine-tune what they want to continue with in future. But, if your seven-year-old is sleep-deprived, not doing well at school and barely making it through the day, their schedule is too hectic.

You need to find a balance that works for your child. If you don’t, they’re going to be stressed out and unable to do their best, which will (unfairly) frustrate you as a parent who’s not aware that your child simply isn’t coping. Balance is important and parents should know how stress can negatively affect your well-being.

You need to find a balance that works for your child

A healthy diet

Your child doesn’t need to develop the habit of eating “junk” food and thinking vegetables are gross. You are in control of the grocery list and the earlier you substitute a packet of chips for a few carrot sticks as a snack, the easier it will be for your child to transition.

Fruit and vegetables are crucial in every diet, especially the diet of growing children. As for sugar, it’s always going to be bad for you and your kids. And it’s not to say that they can’t enjoy something sweet every now and then, but it needs to be something you can spoil them with and not something they can readily grab out of the cupboard when they’re feeling peckish.

And don’t forget to encourage your children to drink enough water.

READ MORE: How to get your children to eat a rainbow of fruit and veggies

Hygienic etiquette

Germs are everywhere – more so when you’re a child surrounded by other children. If you want to prevent your child from falling ill or spreading their own germs as patient zero, you need to teach them the proper hygienic etiquette.

The most important rule is to always wash your hands. Your child needs to build a habit of washing their hands properly before they eat, after they’ve been to the bathroom, after playing outside and after they’ve blown their nose.

It’s one of the best preventative measures against germ-spreading. And when you hear that 80 percent of infections are spread by our hands, you automatically turn to the soap and water.

Be prepared for when they do fall ill

And, finally, the best way to keep your child healthy is being prepared for when they do fall ill. And you do this by having the best medical aid available to them. A medical aid scheme is how you show your family that you have their best interests at heart.

There are affordable medical aid schemes that can cover the cost of your child’s medication, treatments and doctor’s visits. And you can ask any parent – you will see your fair share of doctors’ waiting rooms.