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Make 2009 a Happy, Healthy Year for Children and Teens

CLEBURNE, Texas — Most adults go through the process of making New Year’s resolutions each December, but children and families also can set goals — and working together can help improve the likelihood of success.

“Goals for children can also lead to healthy habits for all family members and the support of the entire family is crucial to help children become healthier,” said Dr. Stephanie J. Morton, a physician on the medical staff at Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital, soon to be Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne. “The new year can be a great time to start new habits regardless of the age of children.”

For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children as young as preschoolers can set resolutions such as brushing their teeth twice a day, washing their hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.

The AAP has these suggestions for children ages 5 to 12:

  • Drink milk and water, while limiting soda and fruit drinks
  • Find a sport or activity that they enjoy and can participate in at least three times a week, such as basketball, jumping rope, dancing, or playing tag
  • Wear their seatbelt every time they get in a car and sit in a booster seat until they are tall enough to use a regular seat belt

The AAP also says that teenagers should commit to:

  • Eating at least one fruit and one vegetable a day
  • Removing negative thoughts, such as “I’m so dumb,” out of their vocabulary
  • Finding positive ways to deal with stress, such as exercise, reading or talking problems out

“By setting goals as a family and including children in the process parents are setting their children up for a healthy lifestyle for many years to come,” Morton said. “By cooking healthy meals and engaging in physical activity together families can build healthy habits and avoid the usual pitfalls of quickly forgotten resolutions.”

For more information, visit

About Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital
Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital, soon to be Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne, is a 137-bed acute-care, full-service medical center serving Cleburne and the Johnson County area since 1986. The hospital's services include surgery, women and infant services, urology, orthopedics and ear, nose and throat care. Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital has been recently recognized for the Texas Health Care Quality Improvement award from TMF, the 2007 Premier/Carescience Select Practice National Quality Award and the 2007 Premier Award for Quality for Heart Failure. For more information, please call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. THR’s system of 13 hospitals includes Harris Methodist Hospitals, Arlington Memorial Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare System, and a medical research organization. THR is a corporate member or partner in six additional hospitals and surgery centers. For more information about Texas Health Resources, visit

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