I think that helping children to develop fit bodies, fat minds and full hearts has a great ring to it. Don’t you? Here are some ideas to help you to achieve this:

Fit bodies

Sitting is the new smoking, for adults and children, because we all spend so much time sitting in front of screens from computers to cellphones and tablets.

  • Encourage your children to participate in school sports. For some children one or two sports per season is sufficient, as was the case with my eldest child. Other children thrive on more. For my youngest he participated in seven different sporting codes every year and the more active he was the better his school report card turned out to be. Learn how to read your child and work out how much is enough and how much is too much.
  • Be a good role model for keeping physically active. Are you going to gym, walking or running regularly?
  • Eat good, healthy food and cut down on the sugary and salty snacks. They are okay in moderation but helping kids develop a taste for real food is the goal. It’s not just good for their bodies but for their brains too.
  • Encourage your family to drink water. It’s essential replenishment for the both the body and the brain that are made up of 70% water. Water helps us feel less lethargic and presses the alert button in our brains. It’s also important for emotional balance. Don’t you feel ratty and irritated when you are desperately thirsty? Well that happens to kids too!

Fat minds

In an era of information overload where information is available at the press of a button, we can fall into the trap of grabbing onto information just in time, and never really reading for deeper meaning.

  • Celebrate reading from a young age with your children. Do the bedtime story thing with them. Not only is it a bonding experience but it puts reading high up in their value system.
  • Be a role model and let your children see you reading for pleasure as well as for purpose.
  • Visit bookshops and libraries and make sure your children have access to age appropriate books.
  • I heard a mum sharing her advice on how to encourage children to read and it was quite novel! She never paid her children for chores but she paid them to read books!
  • Discuss what your children are reading with them. Get them to paraphrase and recount what their story is all about. Ask questions to test their recall – great for comprehension skills. And ask what they think about what is going on in the story, and how it makes them feel.
  • Talk about current affairs when your children are old enough. It’s good for them to know what is going on in the world.
  • Teach them the map of the world – continents, countries, capital cities, landmarks, rivers, mountain ranges etc. Then, at least they won’t have to hop on to Google in the middle of a conversation to find out where’ somewhere or something’ is.
  • We need to see our children translating their knowledge into their everyday lives. That makes knowing stuff relevant and useful, develops a reading culture and a desire to know.

Full hearts

  • Help your children to experience joy in what they do and in the relationships they create
  • Help your children to tap into the sense of satisfaction that comes from putting in effort and creating a result, no matter how small or large that result may be
  • Get them onto the trajectory of personal progress in every area of their life (note, I did not say achievement, although that can be part of personal progess). Teach them to appreciate the lessons learnt on the journey, through the process of becoming, and not just the applause for reaching the destination.

How are you helping your family to develop fat minds, healthy bodies and full hearts?


Creative parenting expert, inspirational speaker and co-author of Tech-Savvy Parenting (Bookstorm, 2014), Future-proof Your Child (Penguin, 2008), and Easy Answers to Awkward Questions (Metz Press, 2009)