8 Ways to Improve your family's health and wellbeing (Hazel Perry @ SCMP.com)

The South China Morning Post has a good article (below) on 8 ways to improve their health and wellbeing.  We are including some excerpts from the text and a link to the full article below.  Everything below, except for indications of snips, are quotes from the article.

Read the article on SCMP.com

"It's that time of year when tradition calls for us to sit down and list resolutions to improve our lives and make us better people. Research from the past 12 months shows there is much Hong Kong families can do together to make the new year happier and healthier."

Get the family moving

Getting more exercise is a resolution made by countless people every year. But despite the best intentions, research suggests we aren't doing enough.

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To stay healthy, experts say children and young people need to do at least an hour of physical activity - such as walking or cycling to school and running in the playground - every day.

Brush up on dental health

Dental health should be a higher priority for Hong Kong families, according to two studies by the University of Hong Kong's dentistry faculty.

One study found around half of preschool children, aged four to six, showed signs of tooth decay. . . (more snipping)

Spare the rod

Most countries regard corporal punishment as child abuse. Here, smacking is a form of discipline still considered acceptable in most homes. There are countless studies that support a ban. Research published in November by the University of New Hampshire Family Research Laboratory found university students who were spanked as children were more likely to engage in criminal behaviour. Students that were spanked by both parents were also more likely to be involved with crime.

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The research covered 15 countries and territories, including Hong Kong.

Don't spoil the child

There really can be too much of a good thing, according to research by City University. It claims parents who overindulge their children are in danger of producing a generation of aggressive and overconfident young people.

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"Parents are giving too many things to their kids, making them feel good about themselves. Such 'monster parents' overprotect and make children narcissistic. This can be potentially dangerous," she says.

Find more time to play

Play is one of the rights of the child, according the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is also widely recognised as having tremendous benefits on the social, mental and physical development of a child.

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"It should be physical, outdoor, unstructured play which is totally initiated by the child."

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Spend less time at work

Achieving a work-life balance is something families here have always struggled to get right. Part of the blame has been given to employers who have failed to create family-friendly workplaces.

A poll by the Federation of Trade Unions found that of 953 fathers surveyed, 78 per cent said they spent less than an hour a day with their families.

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Community Business senior programme manager Amanda Yik says bosses should be more flexible about working hours so parents can spend more time with family.

Get more sleep

Late nights and lack of sleep are common but the consequences can be far-reaching and not only affect concentration but also long-term health and well-being of children, say experts.

Lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of obesity. In a recent study by Chinese University, it was linked to spikes of high blood pressure among school children aged 10 to 18.

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The study concluded that parents could encourage better sleep by establishing a bedtime routine that helps children wind down before bed. This includes keeping them away from the television and limiting access to social media and text messaging at night. 

Wise up on smart devices

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting it is not-so-smart for both parents and children to spend long hours on smartphones and handheld devices. A three-year study by the department of rehabilitation sciences of Polytechnic University and the Hong Kong Physiotherapy Association found that excessive use of these devices could increase aches and pains felt by children and their parents.

Of the 1,049 people surveyed in September's study, 70 per cent of adults and 30 per cent of children and adolescents reported musculoskeletal pain from using electronic devices.

The researchers warned of posture problems such as rounded shoulders, a "poking chin" posture and degeneration of the thumb as a result of leaning over devices and texting, which would be difficult to correct in adult life.

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