How can I improve my child's health?

  • Positive encouragement
  • Set a good example for your child. You can do this by making healthy food and drink choices and by being active yourself. Kids learn best by watching adults around them.
  • Support and encourage your child to take care of himself. Help him focus on the health benefits of his choices instead of focusing on his weight.
  • Do not criticize your child for his weight. People who are overweight are more likely to have low self-esteem (feel badly about themselves). This can make it harder for them to stay healthy.

Diet and nutrition

  • Choose fresh, healthy foods whenever possible. Fast food, takeout, restaurant meals and packaged foods are usually full of extra calories, fat, sugar and salt that are not good for your child’s health.
  • Talk with your child about healthy food and drink choices. With so many health claims on food labels, it can be hard to know what is healthy and what is not. If you are not sure, your child’s health care team can help with this.
  • Reward your child in ways that do not involve food. Instead of giving your child sweets or junk food as a treat, consider giving him the healthier (and more meaningful) gift of a smile, hug or time together. It is even better if you do something active with that time!
  • Do not drink soda, sweetened drinks and fruit juice (even 100% juice and drinks with sugar substitutes). Each of these drinks are strongly linked to weight gain. Drink water to stay hydrated and low-fat milk for vitamin D and calcium.

Sleep and physical activity

  • Make sure your child gets enough physical activity and sleep every day. Children need at least one hour of physical activity every day. You can break this time up into smaller chunks if that is easier.
  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep every night. Depending on their age, children need at least 8-11 hours of sleep every night.
  • Put away devices with screens an hour before bedtime to help your child fall asleep.

What is an asthma flare?

An asthma flare is when a person’s asthma symptoms worsen and make it hard for the person to breathe. Asthma attacks rarely happen without any warning – usually there are signs (such as cough or shortness of breath) warning a person that their asthma is acting up.

If you notice these signs that your child’s asthma is acting up, follow the steps in his Asthma Action Plan. If your child does not have an Asthma Action Plan, ask his health care provider to create one with you.

Most asthma attacks can be prevented by consistent and correct use of controller medications. If you have any questions about your child’s controller medications, talk with your child’s health care provider.

Learn more

Rev. 7/2018. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.