Health literacy is one of the most significant types of literacy that children will be exposed to throughout their lives. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defined health literacy as the ability of individuals to discover, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others. Without this skill set, children will struggle to understand their own health and how to act in specific situations. For example, when they experience stomach pain, fall and hit their heads, get a graze on the knee, and so on. According to a study, health literacy is a key asset for 21st-century learners to have because of the positive influence it has on health outcomes and educational attainment. Children who possess a stronger understanding of health literacy can: \tHandle challenging medical problems like uncommon disorders and allergies. \tEstablish long-lasting routines that bring about positive results, such as regular dental care. \tTake control of any new health issues by using the appropriate tools, such as thermometers and prescription medications. \tInform parents and medical professionals about their medical concerns and wishes. \tAssess the risks associated with specific behaviours and treatments. \tReduce stigma associated with illnesses and healthcare. (Source: Pfizer) So, what can you do to impart health literacy to children? Here are a few fundamental ways parents can improve their awareness and understanding of health-related information: 6 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Health Literacy Find Relevant Information from Reliable Sources Image credit: Canva Teach your children the importance of seeking out information from trustworthy sources. Inform them that they can ask you for help if they are unsure about where to start or how to proceed. You should also take the time to show your children some reliable websites to use. For example: \tMinistry of Health Malaysia \tThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention \tThe World Health Organization \tMedline Plus \tNational Association of Rare Diseases \tNational Institute of Health If you noticed, the links will feature ".gov" and ".org," which is a solid indicator of a well-established health institution. Any health-related information, new or old, that you intend to give your child should adhere to the three Cs: CLEAR, COMPREHENSIBLE, and CONCISE. These three Cs will help you speak to your child in simple, non-medical terms without using long words or complex sentences. To aid in your child's understanding, you can also use well-known, straightforward pictures and other visual cues. Prepare Health Literacy Activities for Children Image credit: Canva There are many enjoyable activities that you may organise to help kids learn better. Fun activities help children learn better, and there are lots to choose from. For example, use pretends to play (such as doctor and patient) to teach them accurate information about going to the doctor. You can demonstrate the routines that a doctor would follow during a general check-up so your children know what to expect on their next appointment. You could also do colouring activities on health-related topics such as the human body, fruits and vegetables, dental requirements, shower accessories, and so on. While they colour, you can discuss the specifics and their functions. Explain and Encourage Eating Healthy Meals Image credit: Freepik Show the food pyramid to your children and explain what each level signifies. Let them know which foods they should eat more of and which they should eat less of or avoid. If you're not sure how, check out this explanation from gov.ie: The Food Pyramid is a visual representation of how various foods and beverages contribute to a well-balanced diet. It divides meals and beverages into five primary tiers, beginning with the most significant shelf at the bottom. \tTier 1:\u00a0Vegetables, Salad, and Fruit (at least 5 to 7 servings a day). Base your meals on these and enjoy a range of colours. More is better. Only drink unsweetened fruit juice once a day. \tTier 2:\u00a0Wholemeal Cereals and Bread, Potatoes, Pasta, and Rice (3\u20135 servings a day, up to 7 for teenage boys and men age 19\u201350). Wholemeal and wholegrain cereals are best. Enjoy at each meal. \tTier 3:\u00a0Cheese, Yogurt, and Milk (3 servings a day and 5 from the age of 9 to 18) Choose low-fat or reduced-fat varieties. Low-fat milk and yoghurt should be preferred over cheese. Consume cheese in moderation. \tTier 4:\u00a0Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts (2 servings a day) Choose lean meat, chicken (without skin), and fish. Consume oily fish up to twice a week. Choose from eggs, beans, and nuts. Limit processed salty meats like sausages, bacon, and ham. \tTier 5:\u00a0Fats, Spreads, and Oils (In very small amounts) Use as little as possible. Choose mono or polyunsaturated reduced fat or light spreads. Choose rapeseed, olive, canola, sunflower, or corn oils. Limit mayonnaise, coleslaw, and salad dressings as they also contain oil. Cook using as little fat or oil as possible, whether you're grilling, baking in the oven, steaming, boiling, or stir-frying. Discuss Personal Safety and Pain as They Arise Image credit: Canva This has a lot to do with both the health of their bodies and how they should interact with their environment. Teach children about the safety precautions of whatever activities they choose to engage in. For instance, when your kids go outside to play in the park, teach them about stranger danger and how to use the playground equipment safely. If they plan to ride their bicycles, encourage children to wear a helmet and other safety gear. It's common for kids to injure themselves while playing, whether inside or outside. Take the chance to teach your children about pain Encourage them to describe the pain and discomfort they are experiencing while guiding them on basic first aid. For example, how to clean the wound and apply a sterile bandage. Educate Children on Stress Management and Emotional Wellbeing Image credit: Canva Children, like adults, can experience stress and mental distress. Allow kids to express their emotions and teach them ways to deal with stress. You and your kids can spend a delightful day performing yoga, listening to soothing music, getting a massage, or going for an outdoor walk. This can also be an excellent venue for discussing how to manage stress and other emotions. Teach them how to use descriptors to explain their emotions. This online dictionary is useful for presenting various "feeling words" that can be conveyed to children. Discussing how characters in books or TV shows may feel is another fantastic technique to help kids learn about feelings. 6. Discuss Hand Washing, Germs, And How They Can Spread Image credit: Canva Demonstrate to your children the proper technique to wash their hands via a video or a poster. After that, let them practise washing their hands based on what they've learned. Make sure to observe\u00a0how they perform the hand washing, or better yet, show how you\u00a0wash your hands as well. You should also highlight the importance of washing their hands to remove germs. And how it helps keep them from becoming ill and spreading disease to others. You Should Be the Role Model of Health Literacy Image credit: Canva Remember that no matter what you educate your children, they will imitate your behaviour. If you want your children to be health-literate person, you should be as well. Only then will you be able to demonstrate, clarify, and respond to questions from your children regarding what they are learning on health-related matters. So, keep in mind that your children's health literacy begins with you. Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice from Motherhood. For any health-related concerns, it is advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or medical practitioner. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!