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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

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Quiet time to play by themselves can help them learn how to be self-reliant, so they don't depend on others to keep them entertained or relax.

"It's important for kids to be able to sit quietly once in a while without having input, without having instruction," vanMarle says. "That's a skill that you need to develop."

4. Get them to bed. Sometimes kids are cranky or don’t feel well because they're tired. School-age kids ages 5 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night.

To make sure they get it regularly, set up a calming bedtime routine. Try a short talk about their day, a bath, and then read a book together. In their room, keep the lights low and the room temperature comfortable for sleep. Have them go to bed and get up at the same time every day.

Teach them that their body needs to sleep so they have the energy to play and have fun.

The good news is that kids this age easily bounce back when they're unhappy, says vanMarle.

"As long as you're doing things sort of normally and being a sensitive caregiver -- giving them a lot of attention when they need it, and love, of course, all the time -- they should be fine."


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