Raising healthy children is a life-long process, but it starts at an early age. As a parent, you want to teach your kids healthy habits and behaviors. You also want your children to choose nutritious foods, learn to balance their diet, and engage in exercise. The challenge is finding the right ways to teach a child without getting too technical for a young individual to understand the discussion. Fortunately, you can teach healthy habits by practicing the lessons you plan to teach.
Eat a Healthy and Well-Balanced Diet According to KidsHealth.org, healthy dietary habits require balanced food choices. As a parent, you are a role model for your child’s eating habits. If you choose to eat a healthy diet and focus on a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources, then your youngsters learn to balance their diet by copying your dietary habits.
KidsHealth.org recommends eating meals as a family and getting your kids involved in the process of making a meal to encourage them to try new foods. The key is focusing on a variety of foods and introducing the foods on multiple occasions, but avoid fighting over foods and meals. Allow your kids to participate in the decisions about their meals while adding one or two new items to your plans on a weekly basis.
Wear a Seatbelt According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every individual should wear a seatbelt when getting into the car. Always buckle up to teach your children to wear their seatbelt. It is particularly important when your kids get old enough to wear a seatbelt directly, rather than sitting in a car seat, because they will follow your example.
Get Outside and Play Exercise is a vital part of good health and long-term habits. When raising a family, parents want to model healthy habits by encouraging outdoor activities and exercise.
The American Heart Association recommends getting the entire family involved in exercise programs. Set aside time each week for a bike ride, a walk through the neighborhood or a visit to a local park. Encourage children to play games like tag, hide-and-seek or sports.
Parents can even encourage exercise by getting children involved in different activities, like dance or martial arts. The key is providing fun outlets for exercise and involving the entire family.
Set Realistic Goals Providing a nurturing and healthy environment does not necessarily mean trying to lose excessive amounts of weight in a short amount of time or getting upset when it takes longer than anticipated to teach your children healthy meal planning.
According to the American Heart Association, you want to set realistic goals. Consider the possible outcomes and focus on the numbers. For example, do not expect to lose 20 pounds in two weeks; instead, set a goal of 20 pounds in three to four months. The goal allows you to focus on losing one to two pounds per week.
By creating realistic goals for your own health, you teach your children to set attainable goals in their own lives. You show that you do not expect instant change; instead, you focus on gradual changes and making one new habit at a time.
Do Not Smoke Smoking cigarettes harms your health and may cause health complications for your children. According to the CDC, avoid smoking to prevent your children from consuming second-hand smoke. Also, be sure to encourage your children to stay away from cigarettes.
Limit Television or Computer Time Limit the amount of time children can watch television or engage in computer-related activities. Only set exceptions for computer activities when necessary for school projects. Parents should also limit their time on the computer or television to teach their kids to balance their activities.
Children develop health habits at a young age, so you need to provide the right lessons before they reach adulthood. Show them how to exercise, eat a nourishing diet and engage in healthy behaviors, then work on any other habits you feel are important for their well-being.
Author bio: Dr. Abhijit Shinde, Medical Director at Aayu Clinics - Lakeview Immediate Care, has a long history of experience in primary care, urgent care and ER. A graduate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Dr. Shinde is invested in every patient’s health, whether he or she needs pediatric care, treatment for a mild fever, allergy treatments or more.