Blood pressure is a growing health concern for adults. Uncontrolled elevation in BP, known as hypertension, is known as the silent killer. Most people suffer this condition for years without realizing it – only to succumb to the complications from the end organ damage from this disease. It is an important thing, then, to be aware of this condition. Children, likewise, need to be educated regarding this disease, especially if you suffer from it. You will have a lot of lifestyle changes, such as modifications in exercise, diet and possibly even maintenance medications. Your children will need to be involved in your care, so it is important to explain the concepts of the disease to them. Here are some ways that you can explain blood pressure to your kids.
- Begin with the fundamental concepts. You will have to explain what the heart does, and a little bit about blood and the circulatory system. Talk about how the heart pumps the blood throughout the body, and how it goes through small tubes called arteries and veins. You may want to include a lot of visual aids when explaining. A child’s imagination, while vivid, may not be able to imagine these concepts if they remain purely theoretical. Visual aids and examples will be able to ground your child in concepts he can see and touch. These may be available online, or in bookstores.
- Balloons are a great way to explain how too much pressure is bad for the body. Fill a balloon halfway with air, and let your children squeeze it. This may be useful in explaining the function of the heart in pumping blood. After they are done playing with it, add more air to the balloon, and let them squeeze it. Explain to them that if there is too much pressure, the heart has to work harder and might have a hard time.
- Let your child appreciate his own circulatory system by showing him his pulses. Let him find his radial and carotid pulse, and correlate this feeling to the balloon model of the heart. Tell him that each flutter of the pulse corresponds to the heart pumping blood through the body.
- It is possible to create your own model of the circulatory system with a marine primer bulb and hoses. These will correspond to actual parts of your circulatory system, such as the heart and your blood vessels. Water can course through this, mimicking your actual body. For additional fun, you can put red food coloring inside the water in order to make the model seem more realistic, and thereby, more enjoyable for your children. Look up the various do-it-yourself models online.
- Explain to your child how taking care of the body is important, and stress the importance of exercise and proper diet in taking care of the heart.
A child is curious and interactive by nature, so it is easy for you to take advantage of this innate curiosity. It is important to make sure that the experience is not gross and scary, but interactive and fun. There are a lot of aids available online, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of all the options in providing learning experiences for your child.