NIH Childcare Centers Promote Children’s Health and Wellbeing

Throughout the pandemic, the three NIH childcare centers have been open and operating while adhering to rigorous health and safety protocols designed to safeguard the children and staff. The centers include the Executive Child Development Center located at 6006 Executive Blvd., Northwest Childcare Center, Building 23, and Parents of Preschoolers, Inc., Building 64. The teachers and staff at each of the childcare centers have been actively engaged in promoting the wellbeing — physical, mental, emotional and social – of the children enrolled at the centers.

Educators, caregivers, parents and guardians can help improve children's wellbeing and foster their connection to their own health. This can be accomplished by modeling healthy behaviors for children and helping them develop positive thinking and behavior patterns. These vital skills can help children respond to stressors and prioritize their health throughout their lifetimes.

Here are five practices that adults can adopt to improve children's well-being:

1. Physical activity

Exercise and physical activity are essential for everyone, including children. Exercise has been shown to improve mood[1], reduce stress and improve sleep. Playing outside in the fresh air, playing sports, and getting exercise are critical for a child's physical, social and emotional development.  

2. Technology time

While screens are more available to children than ever, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding screens altogether for children younger than 18 to 24 months, except when video chatting with family. The AAP also recommends limiting screen use for preschool children ages 2 to 5 to just one hour a day of high-quality programming. Setting clear and consistent guidelines from an early age makes it much easier to reinforce these limits with school-age children. Tips: Use the timers embedded in the technology to make it easier for children to know when their time is up and consider designating media-free times together (such as during meals and when in the car) as well as media-free locations at home (such as bedrooms).

3. Fostering positive relationships

Developing positive relationships with others is very important for children's wellbeing. The benefits of time spent with friends and family are numerous. This is how children learn to listen, share and compromise, and develop their conflict resolution skills. Fostering and maintaining strong relationships is critical to mental and emotional health – as a child and as an adult.

4. Sleep

Sleep is when your child's brain and body rest and recharge for the next day. Ensuring your child gets enough sleep each night is one of the most important practices you can develop as a parent. It is never too late to establish a bedtime routine. You might include a bath, reading a story or listening to quiet music. Turning off all technology one or two hours before bedtime will allow your child to unwind, relax and prepare for sleep.

5. Building resilience

This past year has been a masterclass in resilience for many of us. Resilience helps us get through life's hardships and learn and grow along the way. The ability to learn from mistakes and accept feedback, be persistent and not give up easily will help maintain a positive wellbeing in children and teach them valuable skills for adulthood. When educators, caregivers, parents and guardians model these qualities themselves, they help show children how to rebound and move past mistakes and problems. The act of "letting go" is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy wellbeing.

[1] Source: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/infographics/emotional-benefits-exercise

To learn about the programs and services available to NIH families, visit the Child and Family Programs website

IN THIS ISSUE

On April 27, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security has announced that the REAL ID full enforcement date will be extended by 19 months, from October 1, 2021 to May 3, 2023. This extension is due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the REAL ID Extension.

ARCHIVES