All parents want their children to be happy, healthy, and hopefully intelligent enough to be able to attend university if this is what the child wants, and/or enjoy successful careers. Beyond healthy eating, you will be surprised to learn how big a role water can play in the cognitive development of your children, and how too frequently it is overlooked.
Scientific researchers have discovered that hydrated seven to nine-year-old children are able to concentrate and memorise better than dehydrated children of the same age. They perform better on visual attention tasks and spot the difference memory tasks. This means that they can learn faster and better, which will stand them in good stead at elementary school, but will also cement good learning habits for when they grow up. If they can concentrate and successfully retrieve learned facts from memory, they are likely to enjoy learning more than the kids who struggle.
Few other things have the same motivational power as the feeling of getting something right. Regular water can help them learn easier, learn more, and develop good learning habits.
10 to 12-year-olds who drink enough water score better on a variety of cognitive tests, including hidden figures, auditory number span, making groups, verbal analogies, and number addition. It is hard to learn mathematical skills as an adult, unless one is particularly motivated. If children can learn it well at a young age, they will have a substantial advantage over those who cannot.
As much as we wish the world functioned differently, children who do better at school are likely to be better liked by their teachers and to receive plenty of positive attention from those teachers. The more positive teaching experiences they have, the better they are likely to learn and the more they are likely to achieve in the academic arena. The converse can unfortunately become a downward spiral for underachieving kids from which many of them do not recover. Negative learning experiences can put a child off learning for life.
Moreover, kids who struggle to concentrate may find something other than school work to keep them entertained in class, and may thereby irritate teachers and classmates to the point where they become unpopular or where they are permanently in trouble. This can change their trajectories from basically good kids to potential dropouts just because of missing a positive start.
Since all their organs are still developing, it is incredibly important that children consume enough water every single day. As a percentage of body weight, their bodies contain slightly more water than those of adults (75 per cent versus 66-70 per cent) and their bodies' cooling mechanisms are not yet as well developed. That is why children on sports fields dehydrate more frequently than adults. That is also why kids that are only slightly dehydrated, between one and two per cent, can suffer serious cognitive impairments. Children should accordingly consume as much, or even more, water than adults. Three litres of water per day is ideal.
While it may be good enough for adults, children should not wait until they are thirsty before they drink. Thirst is a sign that children are already moderately dehydrated and it is likely that water can then no longer be replaced before substantial cognitive and physical impairment. Water with a pinch of sea salt and some fruit squeezed into it is then the best choice to re-hydrate them as quickly as possible.
How to Avoid Dehydration
Children often cannot get their own water. This is especially true for the younger ones. Even those children who are old enough to fetch their own water may not be responsible enough to do so. You can pack a filled water bottle in their school bags so that they have water on hand at all times. Older children can be given watches with alarms that you set for water drinking breaks. The most important action you can take is to demonstrate regular water drinking behaviour through your own actions.
Many children do not like water and consequently refuse to drink it. In many cases, this occurs when they have been given sweet fizzy soft drinks to which they have become addicted. The easiest solution is to introduce them to unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies. These might be sweet enough with natural fructose to keep them happy. You can also try to flavour water slightly with lemon, orange, apple, grape, watermelon or any other sweet fruit you have in the fridge.
Ensure that they consume very little caffeine, such as in coffee, some teas, and some energy drinks. Caffeine is a mild diuretic that will make them perspire and urinate more.
Pick a school with sensible sports policies and practices. Children who do strenuous exercise over the warmest mid-day hours are more likely to dehydrate. Coaches should also allow children to drink before, during, and after games.
Keep young children out of school with you or a competent child minder if they have diarrhoea, as this can dehydrate them very quickly.
Give your children the best start possible by ensuring that they drink enough water every day. The information they learn and working habits they acquire as children will make their lives and your life so much easier. You could try our Energy Plus Water Filter System or our Biocera Alkaline Water Jug to start getting your children to drink sound healthy water.