How To Teach Kids To Communicate About Their Digestive Health
Parenting is all about making sure your children are happy and healthy. But, the best way to understand their health is to have them communicate it to you.
Parents are always worrying about their child’s digestive tract and they have every right to - a child’s gut health must be at its best to support vital bodily functions such as nutrient absorption. Furthermore, a leaky gut can hamper their development, especially if they experience symptoms such as stomach discomfort, diarrhoea or mood swings1.
But, at some point, you will have to educate them on your obsession with their poop because teaching them the importance of taking care of their gut health will essentially benefit their future selves and habits. But, how do we explain this to a child?
We know that children may not have the attention span or patience to listen to your ramblings about their gut health. You might just end up frustrated trying to explain and give up altogether – yes, the topic is not exactly the easiest to convey.
But, it is not an impossible task. There are certain teaching methods children respond better to.
Here are four that you can use to educate them on gut health:
1. Turn it into an activity
Children learn best through play including activities and it also benefits your child’s cognitive development. To do this, you can source various worksheets online but try to find one that your child is more inclined to do.
Some children may love colouring more, so you can opt to make your own colouring activity sheet or get a pre-made free printable online. The trick is to educate them as they go through their worksheets by asking questions and providing answers with an easy story-like dialogue.
For example, when your child is colouring the intestinal tract, you can educate them on what lives within such as the good bacteria (probiotics), and how we need to “feed” them with indigestible fibre known as prebiotics – you can even encourage them to use their imagination to draw what they perceive as the “friendly” bacteria on their worksheets and turn it into gut-health story!
Additionally, games can also be an educational activity where the whole family can participate. Here are two game ideas:
- The gut game show: Educate them briefly on gut health with use of child-friendly terms such as “good and evil bacteria”. Let them know that they will be playing a game afterwards where they can win a special prize. After the short session, you can ask them simple questions and for every five answers they get right, you can reward them with a sweet treat or even star stickers.
- The food experiment: Lay out some bad and good foods that affect the gut health. Then, ask them to pick out which foods they think are the best for their gut. With every food item they pick up, make sure you educate them on why it is beneficial or bad for their gut. Reward them for every good gut food they pick out.
- Teach them about food groups: Through food groups, you can point out the foods that impact their gut flora positively and some that do not – you can label the ones that have a great amount of prebiotic fibre as the “friendly foods”.
One way to teach your kids about food groups is through the pen and paper method. Instead of printable charts, this time your child has to doodle it out. First, draw out an empty circle and split it into five empty sections. Then, explain to your child each food group and get them to draw the food items in the empty circle.
The five main food groups are:
- fruits and vegetables;
- meat, fish and other alternatives
- food with fats and food with sugar;
- milk and dairy products;
- bread, cereals and potatoes.
After drawing these out, you can go through each food to explain to them if they are good or bad for their gut and why – emphasise on foods that contain prebiotic fibres and foods that contain probiotics. You can circle it out and place this chart in your kitchen to serve as a reminder the next time they reach for the cookie jar.
2. Lead by example
Children often love to mimic adults – this includes what they eat. Many times, children reach out for a taste so, why not eat what you want your kids to eat? When eating gut-healthy foods, your child will likely ask “what are you eating”? or gesture that they want a piece. Before you hand it over, explain why you are eating these foods and how it can affect your health, including the importance of health upkeep.
You can even term these foods within your household and turn it into a daily phrase such as “do you want to eat a gut healthy food?”.
Sometimes, the easiest and smallest gestures can have the best impact on your child.
3. Talk about communicating
Checking your child’s poop is effective to a certain limit – we can only tell so much by colour. Essentially, you will need your child to communicate if they are feeling any stomach discomfort or are starting to feel ill - children with a leaky gut tend to have recurrent colds or ear infections.
If they are able to communicate this to you, you have a better chance of understanding their digestive health.
We understand that getting your child to communicate about their gut health or health issues in general might be difficult because a leaky gut can include mood fluctuations, a symptom they may not necessarily be able to “feel” - this includes random outbursts or demotivated moods.
Although some children may not respond to your questions during a temper tantrum, take some time to talk to them once they have calmed down and get them to communicate the reasons for their behaviour.
These are some common symptoms you should watch out for that may indicate weak gut health: constipation, diarrhoea, asthma, food intolerances, food allergies, food sensitivities, regular colds, ear infections, anxiety and constant mood swings.
To get them to communicate, you will need to give them the lowdown on gut health using methods as we have listed above. Once they have the basic grasp of that, you can talk to them about why they should communicate their feelings to you – you can also be specific such as asking them to talk about if they are having trouble during their toilet time and describing the types of pains associated with a leaky gut.
Improve your child’s gut health with Mamil D-GestPro+
Now that we have given ideas on how to get your child to understand the importance of gut health, it is time to get their nutrients in. At times, it can be a struggle to get the right amount of nutrients they need into their systems – especially with fussy children.
Acting immediately is important as soon as you spot a leaky gut symptom – if it is overly severe, please contact your doctor for further advice.
Nevertheless, there are formulas made specifically focused on improving a child’s gut health and this includes Mamil® D-GestPro+.
Mamil® D-GestPro+ is an affordable, yet beneficial choice for parents- it is sucrose-free and contains a prebiotic mix that supports gut health for children aged up to nine-years-old.
Mamil® D-GestPro+’s formulation contains:
- A unique prebiotic mixture: It is formulated with a unique Oligosaccharide mixture GOS/lcFOS (9:1) that increases good bacteria and helps maintain a healthy gut flora.
- Milk from grass-fed cows: It is sourced from cows that are predominantly grass fed, which means it is high in protein, calcium and vitamin D.
- DHA*: This is a key component that is essential for your child’s growth and brain development.
**Mamil® Step 3 contains 96mg DHA content based 3 servings per day
Remember, without good gut health, it could lead to poor nutrient absorption which means the nutrients you feed your child may go to waste. If your child understands the importance of this, he or she will be more likely to respond when you introduce gut-related nutrition to their diets!
Need more information on Mamil® D-GestPro+? Visit Dumex Mamil’s website!
1 (n.d.). Gut-Microbiota-Brain Axis and Its Effect on Neuropsychiatric .... Retrieved October 1, 2020, from https://www.clinicaltherapeutics.com/article/S0149-2918(15)00226-X/pdf