In these difficult times (and even during times of aplenty), nobody would refuse opportunities to reduce cost and yet get as much benefits as possible.  It’s almost like “getting your cake and eating it, too.”  Well, why not?

It’s amazing when convergence happen…when what we believe is right also presents bonuses on top of the expected benefits or primary reason for doing it.

This is the case for our resolve that our kids’ wellbeing is of primary consideration in what we do as a family.  By doing what we think is right for the kids, we all benefit, including our pockets.

Here’s a short list of things we do for our kids’ wellbeing that also reduced our medical bills:

  1. Boost natural immunity.  In an earlier blog, my wife listed her top six natural immunity builders that conferred to our children generally healthy bodies and minds.  These natural immunity boosters did not only spare us much from worries, heartaches and stress associated with caring of a sick child, but also made a great positive impact on our family’s financial bottom line.  I am now going to refer you to the blogs on the natural immunity builders and the economics of implementing it, so I can expound more on the other items below.

  1. ImmunizeTrue to the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, we follow at least the minimum immunization requirements set by the government, which include vaccines against tuberculosis (BCG), diphtheria, pertussis or whooping cough, and tetanus (DPT), Hepatitis B, polio, and measles. 

These vaccines provide protection for the above common childhood diseases by exposing the child’s body to mild (or more benign) strain of the pathogens, which allows it to develop immunity against future infection. The shots are administered in a staggered manner and provided for free by local health centers. 

There is also the combination vaccine option that cuts the number of injections (and visits) to as few as six to satisfy all of the above minimum requirements.  The cost of the combination vaccine, however, is considerable.  Optional vaccines are also offered by pediatricians depending on circumstances such as disease prevalence, location and preferences. 

These investments had been proven to have tremendous payoffs as occurrences of these common childhood diseases are at their lowest in history worldwide.  But it does not mean one can skip vaccination altogether because of these low incidence because these diseases are debilitating and life-threatening.  It is just not worth the risks (i.e. of losing a child or its future jeopardized).

  1. Exercise/play.  This refers to child’s play involving physical exertion and preferably outside.  I emphasize these twin requirements as it has become easier for today’s children to avoid them because of television, computer and video games.  This trend of living in the virtual world and limited physical activities had resulted in obesity, impaired vision, and other problems in children. 

Exercise and exposure to the sun release the happy hormones, serotonin and endorphin, that makes for a vibrant immune system.  Vitamin D, which is important for immune response, is also synthesized in the skin when exposed to sunlight.

My wife and I have designed our abode to allow children to move about and provide safe, pleasant and enticing environment to playing or exploring the world outside.  Another blog to give you a glimpse of our garden full of butterflies and edible plants is in the drawing board.

Our “no or minimum television” policy as well as minimal Nintendo and computer time for our kids had also encouraged them to explore other activities such as chasing flying and jumping insects, observing ant trails, digging the soil and collecting a kind of weed seed to watch it explode in water.  This point is related to the sixth natural immunity builder listed in this link.

  1. Lead a positive, well-balanced lifeWhat I am referring to here is an emphasis on the essentials in life (teaching kids about satisfying basic needs and giving in to a few wants once in a while), exposure to positive stress to enhance development as a person and minimizing unhealthy unhelpful ones, recognition of multiple intelligences and acceptance of the uniqueness of each child, and provision of an environment where each one can become the best s/he can be.

It is also on this framework that the Montessori approach to education fits well for us.  Another blog will be devoted to Maria Montessori’s philosophy in the near future.

We must remember that a happy child is a healthy child.  The happy hormones, endorphin and serotonin, boost the immune system, whereas the stress hormone, cortisol, has the opposite effect when always at high levels.  Therefore, a child’s experiences in the family and community, which affect the level of happiness and stress, are important for his/her health.  So our decision as individuals should always take into consideration our responsibilities as parents and our big impact to our children’s wellbeing.

  1. Keep safe.  Safety is a primary concern of parents because kids do not know better!  However, this does not mean we go overboard and disallow them to be free to explore.  I know it’s difficult to overcome our fear that the child might get hurt, nobody wants that.  It’s just that we also do not want him/her to miss out on opportunities to learn and grow up to be a confident healthy adult.  My wife took pity of a preschooler who was restricted by her nannies (who were in all likelihood merely following her parents’ instructions) and was not allowed to play in a playground full of boisterous kids!  Read about it here.

For me, keeping our children safe means keeping them away from no uncertain danger and preventing them from actions with fatal consequences.  The exact circumstances depend on each parent’s judgment.  As for me, tumbles, scratches, bumps, bruises, few insect bites, dirtied fingernails, muddied shoes and many reversible consequences of mishaps during learning and exploration are acceptable.  Pain is a good teacher. 

Those that can be fatal such as electrocution, vehicular accidents, falling off balconies or trees, falling/stepping on sharp objects, and drowning are, of course, unacceptable.  Preventing these must always be in our mind, and foresight and common sense are valuable allies.

It’s basically choosing a healthy lifestyle and focusing on prevention rather than cure.  In other words, it’s a preference for long-term benefits over short-term convenience that makes for happy and healthy kids and parents, plus decreased medical expenses.

Here’s to healthy families and happy wallets!  Cheers!

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  1. Raul November 7, 2009 at 5:17 PM  

    This is a good list. You outlined teh essentials very well...good read!

  2. Bogs Nartatez November 10, 2009 at 7:26 PM  

    I recently visited a bookstore and glanced on a title "Too Small to Ignore". I believe the author wanted to reverse a conventional idea that small things are easily ignored (with the thought that since they're small then it's more or less ok if they are ignored--i confess i have not read the book). Kids are "small" but definitely not to be ignored, and when we do the consequences are dire not only to the immediate family but to the larger society as well. Prov22:6 give this advice, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Whether we like it or not, whether we are good at it or not, as parents we are called to "train" our kids. I just would like to add that it is also critical that we pass on to our kids a particular paradigm of looking at life that we believe to be true to reality and therefore healthy for their wellbeing and will prepare them for the choices they will be facing and making in life. If we fail to do this then someone else or something will (this is a scary thought). This is a challenge to many of us parents for we too grope (consciously or unconsciously) for the right worldview to adopt in life and we struggle on how consistently do we model before our kids, or how we live up to our particular paradigm of life (which our kids see by the way). But this piece is a step towards the right direction. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Papa Sez November 11, 2009 at 12:06 AM  

    @Raul- thanks for your kind words. Tell your friends about the site as well.

    @Bogs- I fully agree with you on adopting a paradigm and living consistently to it...and the kids are surely the first to see any inconsistencies. Our school-age kids are now very particular about right and wrong. This topic deserves one or more blogs for the future. It's a pleasure to get comments from you. Thanks again.

  4. Toni November 13, 2009 at 4:24 PM  

    Great article, I would share this to my friends...

    in my own idea enough sleep will also strengthen the kids

  5. Papa Sez November 13, 2009 at 6:12 PM  

    Hi Toni, thanks for the comment and for sharing this with your friends. You are right about the importance of sleep, it was also discussed in the blog that I referred in number 1 in the list.

  6. Anonymous December 1, 2009 at 2:47 PM  

    Focus on prevention and long-term benefits would pay off greatly than short-term convenience. Good post!

  7. Adelaine S. May 23, 2013 at 1:21 PM  

    The priority of parents must really be the health of their children. Even though the medical bill is high, we must always find a way to secure our children's health.

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