As a parent, it’s natural to be concerned about your kid’s health, wanting your child to eat their greens and drink their milk. After all, one of our primary duties as a parent is to make sure we raise healthy children and set them up for success in the future.
Teaching your children how to create healthy habits from an early age is vital to their health and wellness, not just in their infancy and toddlerhood, but in their adulthood as well. In fact, a 2002 study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that food-related experiences in early age affected how accepting the child was in school-age of a variety of vegetables and fruits.
Educating your child about healthy living and being a good example of it will encourage your kid to maintain healthy, lifelong habits that promote longevity and wellness for years to come.
10 Tips to Help Your Child Form Healthy Habits
Whether it’s exposing your child to fruits and vegetables from an early age, or teaching them the importance of exercise, there are many healthy habits you can teach to better your kid’s health.
1. Make Meals Colorful
Children love bright colors, so what better way to entice their palates than by enticing their vision, as well? Teaching your child that a meal should be colorful, incorporating a variety of vegetables and fruits, will encourage them to make these healthy ingredients a regular part of their diet.
2. Encourage a Healthy Breakfast
As kids enter school age, it’s more likely that breakfast is either skipped or served in the form of a bowl of sugary cereal. Skipping breakfast is incredibly detrimental to your kid’s health. In fact, Harvard Medical School confirms that kids who skip breakfast are four times more likely to become obese. Encourage your child to eat a fiber-rich breakfast of whole grains every morning to start off their day right.
3. Make Physical Activity Fun
Not all kids grow up loving sports, so a love for physical activity might not come naturally. What all kids do love is having fun, so try to find an enjoyable activity that will get you and your kids moving on an everyday basis. Maybe its swimming in the pool or exploring a local trail together. If you’re being active and enthusiastic, chances are your kid will jump onboard too.
4. Limit Time in Front of the TV
These days, with the abundance of technological devices like tablets, smartphones, and, of course, the tv, kids are spending less time playing outdoors than past generations. Make a habit of limiting the amount of time your family spends using technology and, instead, start new routines like going for an evening walk as a family or going to the community park.
5. Avoid Sugary Drinks
Drinking sugary drinks like soda and juice can be one of the worst habits to form as a child. Instead, teach your children that water is the preferred choice by stocking up your home with water and avoiding any lunch box juices or soda cans. It’s important that you, as a parent, stay committed to drinking water as well.
A child might not understand all the reasons why the amount of sugar in certain drinks can be bad for them, but if you teach your child that water is healthy and other drinks are not, that’s all they need to know.
6. Set Mealtimes and Family Dinners
It’s easy to end up eating food on-the-go, whether your child is running late to school or eating a snack in front of the TV. We’re guilty of doing this as parents, as well. How many times have you eaten a breakfast bar in the car?
Setting proper mealtimes around the table teaches your child to devote adequate time to eating wholesome meals rather than high-calorie snacks on-the-go. Additionally, it teaches them that making quality family time and socialization around a meal should be a priority. Eating as a family around the table also allows you, as a parent, to model the behavior you want your child to have at the table, including what they eat and how they eat it.
7. Practice Moderation and Self-Control
If you leave a child alone with a tub of ice cream, they may very well scoop into that frozen treat until they’re at least halfway through it. Teaching your child that foods need to be eaten in moderation is vital to them having a balanced diet. The best way to teach your child moderation is to practice the concept yourself.
If you’re serving ice cream after dinner, make it a special treat of just a couple small scoops for every person in the home. Your kid won’t wonder why they can’t have more or have the ice cream for breakfast when everybody in the home practices the same kind of self-control and eats it at the same time.
8. Make Trying New Foods Enjoyable
It’s been scientifically found that children who associate negative behaviors or feelings with certain foods tend to grow up with an aversion to those foods. If you want to introduce a new food to your child, make the experience a social one that the whole family gets involved in.
If your child is sitting at the dinner table and watching everyone else in the family look excited and enthusiastic about trying a new food, rather than listening to you demand or force them to eat the food, they’re more likely to give the new food a try.
9. Brush and Floss Every Day
Your child’s dental health is just as important as their overall health. After all, the two are linked to each other. Make sure you teach your child that brushing twice a day and flossing every night is a habit they should stick to for the rest of their life.
10. Be Consistent with Bedtime
Getting enough sleep is important at every age, but it’s especially true for young children. The younger a child is, the more sleep they need to function properly during the day and maintain good health. Stay consistent by setting up a bedtime for your children every night, and making sure they stick to it.