As adults it is our responsibility to teach the children in our lives as much about how to keep fit and healthy as possible, so that they can live as long and happy a life as possible. Children learn from what they see and hear around them, so by creating excellent healthy habits at an early age we are setting them up for a good life full of the right things. We can show them how to make good decisions when it comes to their health and the reasons why those decisions are the right ones. Here are some more ways to teach children about healthy lifestyle habits.
If at all possible, try to eat together at least once a day. It can be hard because everyone is so busy, but if you persevere with the idea, you will get into a routine that will become a good habit for everyone involved. Eating together shows your children that you are making healthy eating habits for yourself as well as for them, and you are leading by example. They can see what a healthy portion size looks like for an adult and compare it to that of a child.
If you can get your children involved in the preparation and cooking of the meal too that’s even better because they will have a much better idea of the good ingredients that you are using. If there is anything included that might be called ‘bad’ for you, explain why it is there (a little butter, sugar, or salt, for example) and why it is okay to have a little of this as long as the rest of the choices they make are healthy ones.
Eating together also creates good, happy associations with food so that as your child gets older they understand that eating well is a good thing, as, not only does it make you healthy, but it gives them lovely memories of their childhood too.
Choosing to spend time outside rather than indoors is another healthy lifestyle habit that is good to teach your children about. If you have a yard, then get outside and play games there. They can be sporty games like soccer or football, or they can be chasing games, for example. You might even want to play games such as hide and go seek; the thrill of the game makes it exciting and being outside means there are many more places to hide.
You don’t need any fancy equipment to be able to enjoy the outside with your children; just enough space to run around in, and perhaps a ball if you want to play a game that requires one. If you don’t have the space in your own yard, then search around for a public playing field or playground where you can take the kids for some exercise. Getting outside as much as possible, even during the colder, wetter months can really make a difference to your child’s health and the way they look at the world. Exercise is fun when made into a game, and this is a great habit to instill as early as possible.
Turn Off The Tech
There is some form of technology everywhere you go, from smart phones to tablets to laptops and even TVs that have many new built in functions such as hard drives and the ability for shows to be paused, for example. It's easy to be addicted to the many different screens that are around us, but it’s important to try to stay away whenever possible. If your child sees you staring at your phone all the time they will want to do the same, and that means they won’t be exercising as much, nor will they be concentrating well at school.
Put a time limit on any tech that is used in the home and make sure that this is always implemented– you will need to stick to it yourself as well, as your child will see this if you fail to comply, and will then want to use their own technology.
Of course, going online for homework purposes is a different matter, but you will still need to supervise to ensure that homework is the only thing your child is looking at – it can be easy to get carried away and end up playing a game or looking at social media. If you can, try to use technology to your advantage; you can use a Canadian pharmacy infographic to show your children why their health is so important, for example.
Being a supportive parent, talking positively to your children, and encouraging them to make the right choices is essential. Your children will want to please you and will even go out of their way to show you that they are learning the lessons you are giving them. Whenever your child makes a good decision regarding their health, make sure you praise them so that what they have done becomes positively reinforced. This will help to build your child’s knowledge as well as their self-belief and self-confidence.
The more supportive you are as a parent the less likely your child is to act out in a negative way just to gain your attention. This will help both them and you be much happier as well as healthier in the long term.
Get Them Involved
We’ve already mentioned how useful it is to get kids involved in making their own food, but there are many other things that they can be involved with that will help them to be more healthy. Shopping for groceries with you is a good start as they can see exactly what goes into their food and why you are choosing to buy it.
Look Into Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities give children a great chance to meet new people, try new things, and enhance their socializing skills. They can allow talents to come to the fore and the children can explore ways to live in a healthy, enjoyable way in a safe, secure environment. Meeting people who they wouldn’t normally know is another way of learning new things, and it is entirely possible that they will learn different ways of being healthy. Just because how and what they learn doesn’t come from you as a parent, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea, so hear them out if they want to try alternative methods of keeping healthy and maybe you can learn something new too.
Help Them To Be Responsible
By giving your children a little more freedom when it comes to choosing their own healthy lifestyle, you can ensure that they will be successful in the future. Learning to be responsible is extremely important, as it gives children a good head start in life, and can help them in their careers later on. Giving your child responsibility for their own health teaches them ownership and shows them that you respect them and their decisions. If, for example, your child can plan their own snacks or even lunches at school, or perhaps they get to choose, and maybe prepare the breakfast for the whole family once a week, they will be more proactive when it comes to making the right choices.
Food Is Not A Reward
A trap that many parents fall into is to give treats such as cookies and candies as a reward for good behavior. There are very good intentions behind this, but it is not a good thing to do in the long term. Creating this kind of food motivation can be extremely detrimental to a child’s well-being, especially as, unlike in the past, children (and adults too) are much less active, no matter how hard we all try. That means a few treats here and there are not easily worked off as they might have been.
The main problem comes with limits. If you give a child a cookie because they’ve been good one day, what happens the next when they show the same behavior? They will expect another cookie, and they may even receive one. This can go on without end if the parent isn’t able to come up with another reward. If you do want to reward your child for good behavior then it is better to come up with a points system. Every time they do something good they get a point and when they reach 10 (or any other number you choose) you can reward them with something other than food. This delays the reward and it also encourages children to work harder.
Lead By Example
Possibly the very best way to show children how to live a great healthy lifestyle is to lead by example. Children will always pick up on what they see and hear, especially when they are watching their parents. After all, they want to be just like you, and they don’t necessarily know when your behavior is ‘good’ and when it is ‘bad’ when it comes to food choices. If you want your child to has as healthy a lifestyle as possible, make sure you do too.