All parents want their kids to grow to be healthy. And this means making sure they have a well-balanced diet, plenty of exercise, and social and emotional development. But it can be hard to get kids to do things that we know are healthy for them. It’s important to encourage healthy habits in kids from an early age.
Then again, try to ask a picky eater to finish their vegetables or for a kid who loves video games to go play outside instead.
There are ways that parents to start to incorporate healthy habits into daily routines. Over time, kids will pick up the habits and continue to practice them if there is consistency.
1. Ask For Their Input
The idea is not to make rules, but instead, have children participate in making healthy choices. According to research, youth are more likely to be self-motivated to engage in physical activity if they have a choice in the matter.
For parents, this means asking them for their opinion as to what activity to do. Maybe it’s providing them with a selection of after-school sports teams and having them pick one that interests them.
Another idea is asking if they prefer one activity for the day over another such as going to a trampoline park or the rollerskating rink and setting two hours on the weekend to do that activity.
2. Be Active As A Family
Research found that youth are more likely to participate in physical activity if a parent does it along with them. This means starting toddlers off with a mommy-and-me class that includes parent participation. There are toddler programs in sports like gymnastics and soccer that offer classes for those as young as 6-months-old.
Use the weekends for time being active such as going to a park or on a hike or trying ice skating during the winter months. Rainy days and cold days can including building an obstacle course indoors or putting on a yoga video.
3. Try New Foods
Just because a parent doesn’t like a certain food doesn’t mean the kids won’t either.
Put on an educational video about fruits and vegetables and ask the kids which one they want to try. Let them help shop for the items and prepare them as a snack or side dishes for mealtime.
4. Eat Together
Always eat together as a family. Make sure the TV, tablets, and phones are off and focus on bonding and sharing. Serve a variety of colorful food items and remember that food is meant to be enjoyed! Not all healthy food has to be bland and tasteless.
5. Make A Routine
Do the same things every day to help create a habit. Always have them brush their teeth when waking up and before bed. And the same concept can be used for setting time for other healthy habits such as time for active play, time for a healthy snack, and time for homework, reading, or education television.
Even something as small as having them take their kids’ multivitamin with breakfast every day can have a positive impact on their health.
6. Have A Positive Mindset
Leading by example is so important—especially because kids pick up on so much even at an early age. This means not saying how much you don’t like a specific vegetable and instead of talking about how “carrots” are your favorite one and how delicious it is. Say things like “carrots help give me great eyesight” or “milk gives me strong bones” and encourage the kids to take on consuming that thing for their health, too.
Let them see you exercise, even if you aren’t one to always workout. Use it as a teaching opportunity to show them that exercise is fun so find something you enjoy doing. Don’t say things like “this is hard,” but instead say things like “I feel so good now” once you complete the workout.
Remember that habits take some time to establish so start with one or two small things such as drinking more water or spending more time together and less time watching TV. Always give kids a choice or input so that they feel like they have some control over their health.