We all know the importance of optimal nutrition during pregnancy and the early developing years of a child. It is known that a nutritional diet is required for the right physical growth. It can help a child be more productive, build a healthy appetite and grow. But do you know that during these early years, while their physical body developments happen, a tremendous amount of social-emotional development also takes place? Is there any relationship between nutrition and the socio-emotional development of a child? Does nutrition affect a child’s emotional development too? If you are wondering about the role of nutrition in your child’s emotional development in India, keep reading.
I would like to share a personal experience here. It was till last year when like any other mom, I use to ensure that my child eats healthy meals. He learned while we home-schooled and participated in physical activities while we went out to play. Everything was going well, till he started his formal school late last year. Well, we were prepared for some expected insecurities and changes with the new routine. But what I wasn’t prepared for was sudden variations leading to a lot of mood swings, quick crying and temper tantrums. A good reason why we call it “terrible two’s” isn’t it?
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Socio-emotional changes and development
Like a concerned mom, I even discussed and shared notes on the subject with some fellow moms to realise all kids were experiencing similar emotional behavioural changes. Since this wasn’t helping I approached Tuggu’s paediatrician and had a detailed discussion. She explained that as their social world is expanding, they are learning more about their own emotions: expressing, controlling themselves as well as understanding other people. Hence such behaviour is common, but she asked me to ensure he is eating home-cooked meals at proper intervals. She even asked me to take note of any visible changes in his activity levels and dietary habits.
Honestly, this changed my perspective and I started keeping a track of his activity levels with the help of his teachers only to observe his changed dietary patterns. This was due to changed routine leading to late lunch, delayed or no naps. All this was somewhere a reason for his exhaustion and higher anxiety levels. I soon realized that there is a big role of nutrition in your child’s emotional development.
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The doctor also explained that lack of age-appropriate nutrition may impact a child’s emotional, behavioural and intellectual development in many ways. Such kids may struggle to maintain attention, learning new skills or even retaining – everything a well-nourished child’s brain may do efficiently. Due to the lack of some vitamins and minerals, kids could feel emotionally unstable or may deal with higher levels of anxiety and depression. EVERYTHING, right from how active to how lethargic children feel comes down to a matter of correct nutrition. Rather than asking for a ‘clean plate’ or forcing the child to finish the food they don’t like, it’s important we parents feed them healthy nutrient-rich meals for overall growth.
What we parents can do- Our Role in Child’s Emotional development
In order to achieve proper growth, Parents should also encourage the kids to have healthy eating practices in early childhood.
- A positive approach could be by being a role model and influencing your child with good eating habits for yourself. Kids would learn better and follow what they see than what they are forced to.
- Avoid gadgets at mealtimes. Make mealtimes a family affair, if you are a working parent, ensure that you eat at least one meal as a family and spend quality time chitchatting and enjoying the meal.
- School-going kids should not miss their breakfast as it may keep them starving for long impacting their mood, physical growth and learning capabilities.
- Take cues of the child to know when he is hungry or full. Instead of force-feeding food, they don’t like, replace it with other healthy choices. The key is to provide a variety of seasonal foods in a scheduled meal or snack pattern. This shall take care of their age-appropriate recommended dietary allowance (RDA) or nutrients intake.
- Intake of any junk food and aerated beverages should be discouraged. Kids should be given a diet, rich in nutrients and antioxidants. When 100% of RDA’s of all essential micronutrients can’t be met through their diet due to personal food preferences or fussiness, a nutritional supplement could be given to ensure optimal development. PediaSure has 37 vital nutrients and ensures your child gets complete and balanced nutrition.
- Apart from the right nutrition, some form of moderate physical activity is equally important to ensure they are growing right.
These are some tips I learnt from my doctor and through my own observations. Surprising, isn’t it, how nutrition and emotional health are connected? Let me know your thoughts on this.
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****This is a sponsored blog post and a part of a public awareness campaign by Pediasure India. The post is meant to share experience the role of nutrition in your child’s emotional development. The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not reflect the views of any brand. Any omissions or errors at the author’s end does not assume any liability or responsibility on any party mentioned in the blog.