Lesson 7 Child Health Promotion 

Health promoting interventions that target children are fundamental for building a healthy lifestyle that will follow them in adulthood.

  • Good health
  • Safe and secure environment
  • Supportiveand responsible parents with high levels of health literacy
  • Access to healthcare services

As it was discussed previously, vulnerable populations like migrant/refugee children and children from low SES families have to deal with specific health problems that negatively affect their health status. Therefore, these problems should be specifically addressed in order to enable young children develop to their full potential. 

Source : https://pixabay.com 

In this lesson we will analyse the following terms:

Hygiene Issues

Unhealthy Lifestyle

Nutritional Issues

Mental Health Issues 

Hygiene Issues: 

Good hygiene practices can limit the spread of infectious diseases thereby preserving children’s health and well-being. As for families, maintaining a proper hygiene decrease illness and therefore healthcare costs and it also enhances the quality of living conditions and children’s self-esteem. 

  • Using safe water for drinking and cooking
  • Proper hand washing practices
  • Garbage disposal
  • Dental care visits

It should be mentioned that due to the current global COVID-19 pandemic, the role of maintaining a good hygiene is crucial for the future of all humanity.  


Hand washing is one simple technique that you can learn to your children in order to decrease the risk of you child getting sick. Most germs are spread through the hands, as every time we touch a surface germs are transferred to our hands. Then, if we touch our face, mouth or nose, the germs enter our body and we might get sick. 

Keep in mind that applying water and soap is mandatory for a proper hand wash!

  • Beforeeating or preparing food
  • Afterusing the toilet
  • Aftercoughing,sneezing or blowing your nose 
  • After touching dirty surfaces
  • Aftertouching animals
  • After touching or throwing away garbage
  1. Wet your hands with water
  2. Apply soap on your hands
  3. Rub the palms, back of hands, between fingers, under finger nails and wrists repeatedly.
  • The ideal duration is 40-60 seconds. If you do not have enough supplies, try to wash your hands for as long as possible. 
  • Always remember that applying hand sanitiser after the hand wash, adds extra protection!

However, there is an important problem that lies on the governmental unwillingness to invest money on constructing accommodation equipped with basic sanitary infrastructure. Latrines, water containers and soap are basic for maintaining  hygiene practices and should be provided in every temporary or permanent accommodation. 

  • Three billion people do not have a hand-washing facility with water and soap at home.
  • Almost half of schools lack a hand-washing facility with water and soap, affecting some 818 million school-age children.
  • Roughly 32% of health-care facilities lack hand hygiene facilities at points where patients are treated.”

Unhealthy Lifestyle 

NCDs claim 41 million lives every year: That’s approximately 70% of all global deaths.

As claimed in the aforementioned lessons, NCDs are common health problems during adulthood but start developing from a very young age. Risk factors are often reversible and therefore preventing them is of major importance.

Parents should focus on helping their children adopt a healthy lifestyle by first and foremost being role models for them!

Physical Activity:

Physical activity offers an abundance of health benefits. In the beginning of training, it releases stress, cultivates an energetic feeling, enhances sleeping habits and strengthens the heart, muscles, bones and joints. Moreover, it offers long-term benefits by increasing longevity and decreasing the risk of common NCDs like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and hypertension. It should be mentioned that it also improves mental health by decreasing the risk for depression, PTSD, anxiety and psychotic illness.

  • Source: https://www.pexels.com
    Be a role model for your child by starting regular exercise
  • Involve the whole family in activities like doing household chores or going shopping 
  • Sign up your child for extracurricular programs that are offered by your community (if they are affordable)
  • Set some boundaries about screen time 
  • Find alternatives like fitness video games
  • Try to schedule family activities outside of the house, where you can all be active and bond at the same time!


Nutritional Issues:

  • Help themhave a healthy weight
  • Provide them the necessary energy intake
  • Foster cognitive development
  • Balance their emotional state
  • Preventthe onset of NCDs
  • Prevent mental healthissues like depression or anxiety
  • Vegetables. Make your plate colourful!
  • Fruit
  • Whole Grains (the less processed, the better)
  • Healthy Protein ( e.g. beans, nuts, eggs, fish)
  • Water
  • Dairy (unsweetened)

Find out the nutrition basics for children at different ages 



Source: https://www.pexels.com 

  • Always keep in my mind that you are the one who controls what goes in the house. As long as you bring in healthy food, children will adapt and eat what is best for them
  • Be a role model for them. If they see you consuming healthy foods, they will mimic you
  • Encourage your children to make decision about what they want to eat
  • Read food labels in order to have knowledge and control over the ingredients that you and your family consume (limit sugar, fat etc)
  • Do not force your child to eat and do not use food as a reward
  • Limit screen-time. This can lead to more physically active children and at the same time it will reduce the amount of snacking
  • Start implementing these changes while your child is still young 

How to have a healthy diet according to WHO  

Source: https://www.pexels.com 

However, we should not forget that there are some groups who need supplementary feeding!

Firstly, infants’ and newborns’ nutrition can be enhanced by implementing habits like exclusive breastfeeding from delivery up to 6 months, and appropriate complementary feeding for children 6-24 months old.

Children that suffer from malnutrition should be screened by healthcare professionals. According to their health status they might be in need for multivitamin supplements, or in more severe cases where they fail to thrive, they should be fed with high calorie supplements and assessed by a specialist. 

In addition, pregnant and breastfeeding women might be in need of nutrient supplementation (e.g. calcium, iron folate)

You can refer to Module 2: Health Management and Self-care for more information 

Mental Health Issues 

Children’s mental health can be affected from a young age and due to various reasons. This is why parents should build a safe and supportive environment in order to preserve their child’s mental health. Listening to their feeling, respecting them, boosting their self-esteem and actively caring fro them are necessary for children’s emotional stability and well-being.

However, there are certain signs that children express and parents should recognise as a call for help.

  • Changes in behaviour (e.g.absence of interest in thing thatwere fun in the past, social isolation)
  • Emotional changes (e.g. overreacting
  • Changes in thinking (negative thoughts)
  • Physical changes ( e.g.lack or energy, eating or sleeping disorder)

If you notice any disturbing signs, please contact your pediatrician in order consult you on how to handle things.

Some children with mental health issues will have to get help from a healthcare professional. It might be necessary to attend several meetings with a mental health specialist and/or follow a certain medication. There are a lot of different types of therapies like CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) through which mental health professional focus on how emotions and feelings affect behaviour. The aim of these practices is to assist your child in confronting the issues that he/she/it is going through. Therefore, try not be worried as the best care is provided to your child. In addition, remember that family is fundamental for child’s mental health and try to create an even more safe and protecting environment for your child in need!