The Highly Healthy Child
The physical health wheel refers to the well-being of
a child’s body. What are your child’s physical needs
to help his or her body grow properly? Are his body chemicals, parts
and systems working as closely as possible to the way they were designed
Parents who want to help facilitate their children’s physical
health will do what is necessary to prevent disease whenever possible
and treat disease, when it occurs, as early as possible. When illness
or disorder occurs, being physically healthy involves learning to
cope and adapt as needed. In addition to having immunizations provided,
a child needs regular physical activity, rest and proper nutrition.
Under normal circumstances, providing these basic needs for a child
will help him grow and thrive as he develops.
It’s important to note that a child whose body lacks optimum
physical "wholeness," such as those who have suffered an
accident or have a congenital disorder of some kind, can still be
highly healthy if his emotional, relational and spiritual health
For example, my daughter Kate was born with cerebral palsy. Kate
experienced a significant amount of brain damage while still
in the womb. Her doctors believed she had suffered a stroke before
born, which resulted in the left side of her body being weaker
and more spastic than the right side. The right side was affected
well. The brain damage dramatically slowed Kate’s physical
development, and she faced several challenges before she even became
By the time she turned thirteen years of age, Kate had already
had many operations to straighten her limbs and eyes. She had
and splints, casts and patches and she was in a wheelchair
for a while. At age 12, she developed a severe seizure disorder,
which forced her to spend time in an intensive care unit on
She nearly died.
Now a young adult, Kate has overcome many medical obstacles,
but she still isn’t "normal" physically. Nevertheless,
her mother and I consider her to be fairly healthy physically,
because Kate has learned to cope and adapt. She takes care
of herself, is
up-to-date on her immunizations, takes her medications, makes
it to her doctor appointments and does her own self-care. Her
is not perfect, but her physical health is reasonably balanced.
Under the circumstances, it would be easy for Kate to cave
in to the physical challenges she continues to face. Instead,
hard to keep emotionally, relationally and spiritually healthy.
Her ability to do what it takes to be as physically healthy
is strongly dependent upon the other three areas of health.
Does your child face difficult physical challenges? Don’t give
up on the notion of helping him become highly healthy. With encouragement
and support, the child with physical limitations can accomplish feats
thought to be impossible for him. And there’s much more to
being a substantive human being than having a near-perfect body.
The activity of the mind and soul are more central to being highly
healthy than physical health itself. Kate says, "A healthy child
is one who is not only physically healthy—exercises, eats the
right amount of each food group (including a little chocolate thrown
in now and then)—but is also emotionally and spiritually healthy." Those
are words to live by, Kate.
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