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Breakfast benefits to children go beyond schoolwork, to physical and mental health, self-esteem and relationships.  Breakfast is a major building block of a successful and happy life. 

Breakfast Benefits Children In Many Ways

If you don't mind, I'm not going to bore you with the same clichés you can get anywhere about breakfast and schoolwork.  Instead, this article is going to dig into more important areas of your kids lives.  We'll look at the benefits of breakfast on their physical health, mental health,  self-esteem and social relationships.  Though education is important, it's easy to see that these areas of child-development, determine, not only how well your child does in school, but in all aspects of life.

Physical Health Benefits Of Breakfast:  This is the easiest to discuss because it involves basic nutrition.  The longest amount of time our bodies go without nutrition is from dinner to Breakfast.  Even if you have a snack just before bed, it's 9 hours to the next food, compared to the 4-5 hours between meals during the day.  Add to this, the fact that the body uses the sleep time to rebuild itself and grow, using up what nutrient supplies we had left at the end of the day.   Kids need proteins, carbohydrates and and fats at breakfast to just stay even in the nutrition roller-coaster.  Without a good breakfast, children are more likely to catch whatever bug is being passed around at school, more likely to have stunted growth, more likely to injure themselves due to fatigue, more likely to eat any unhealthy snack food they're offered and less likely to recover quickly from the diseases every child gets their share of. 

Mental Health Benefits Of Breakfast:  Nutrients play as important a role in mental health as physical health.  Normal brain development requires good nutrition.  Depression, Bipolar Affective Disorder, Schizophrenia, ADD, ADHD and many other mental disorders have been linked to nutritional imbalances.  If you have a child that suffers from any of the above, make sure their treatment includes a balanced, natural diet that begins with a good breakfast.  Every parent knows the relationship between mood and diet.  You want your kids cranky, let them go without food for a while.  You want them hyper, dose them with a high sugar food and watch them go.  Sadly, some parents use sugar, for example, as a child management tool, to keep them from throwing fits.  We all know by now that this sets them up for an early onset of diabetes.  Instead of using food to manage children, we should manage children's food.  By balancing their diets, we can lessen the peaks and valleys in their moods and greatly improve their overall mental health.  This must start with breakfast.

Self-Esteem Benefits Of Breakfast:  Though most would put this in the mental health category, I believe it deserves a category all it's own.  What children think of themselves is critical to all elements of their lives and development.  A child's self-esteem can't be manipulated long by "dumbing down" things for them.  Eventually, they catch on and feel even worse about themselves.  Breakfast benefits children by giving them the mental and physical energy to compete and keep up with the other kids, improving their self-esteem in meaningful and long-lasting ways.  Without that energy, one failure often leads to another, causing a cascade of negative self-doubt.  Sadly, many kids get to a point where they won't even try because of the emotional risk of failing...once again.

As good as the self-esteem benefits of nutrition are, just having one or both parents present during breakfast can double or triple those benefits.  Why?  Because it causes the kids to feel they're important enough to you that you spend the first part of your day with them.  Even if work prevents one parent from being present during breakfast on weekdays, the weekend breakfasts can be a special time to build into your kids how special they are to you.  These breakfast can provide an immeasurable boost to the self-esteem of your child and that will branch out into all areas of life.

Social Relationships Benefit From Breakfast:  Some may think this category a stretch, but consider the preceding before writing it off.  If someone is physically ill or low on energy, they have less patience and tolerance of others, less ability to concentrate on what others are saying and to keep up in the conversation.  My diabetes, with its blood sugar ups and downs, has convinced me of this.  If you don't believe me, ask my wife.  Nutritional balance has a lot to do with relationships.  The mental health issues of poor nutrition may have even more to do with relationships, because of all the emotional upheavals caused by blood chemical changes.  Poor self-esteem interferes with good relationships even more.  We tend to attract those we think we deserve.  Kids with good self-esteem won't be afraid to offer friendship to others like them.  Kids with low self-esteem feel intimidated by the kids with healthy self-esteem.

I know this is the case, because I was one of the kids who rarely had breakfast and almost never with my parents.  I couldn't start a relationship of any kind and took whoever would talk to me until they didn't any more.  I felt from the fourth grade on that I was inferior to a whole group of kids.  I now know this to be false, but, during my childhood, it was a reality that altered what I was willing to try.  If you don't already, carve time out of your schedule to make sure your kid gets a great breakfast every day, and make sure that breakfast is with you as much as possible.

So, children benefit from breakfast in every way, and for the rest of their lives.  When we consider the benefits to physical health, mental health, self-esteem, and relationships, it becomes clear that a good breakfast with us is one of the most important single things we can do to prepare our children for life.  Who knows!  It might even help their schoolwork.

What do you serve your children for breakfast?

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