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Teaching Your Kids Healthy Habits for Life

Teach proper hand-washing techniques to prevent illness

Toddlers and children in early elementary school are little sponges when it comes to learning. We try to optimize this by going over flashcards, learning basics, and utilizing educations apps and TV shows. But outside of traditional knowledge that kids should be learning, we should also make sure to instill good health habits to make sure they live long healthy lives. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be easy to forget these habits for ourselves, so building a routine with kids around these habits will be mutually beneficial.

Here are some of the top healthy habits to instill in your children:

Food Habits

Our daily lives can get pretty busy, and one area that tends to especially affect is our food habits. More and more we find ourselves too busy to sit down to breakfast, or have too much on our schedule to cook dinner at home, and default to take out and ready-made foods. When this is the norm, how are we to emphasize healthy eating habits in our kids, something that is especially important for kids for healthy growth?

Creating healthy meals and designating specific times of the day for meals and snacks is going to help your kids not only stay in a routine, but develop a good relationship with food. Pickiness is something that many parents struggle with their kids, but having set time and expectations for meal and snack times can help combat this. For times that you can’t be home for a meal, pack some healthy meals for on the go that will help keep mealtimes on track.

Exercise Habits

As access to technology has increased, so has our sedentary time inside. Video games, cellphones, tablets, television — things that are fun in moderation, but can easily take over more time than we intend, especially with our kids. When a kid whines “I’m bored!” it’s easy to want place them in front of a screen for some quick entertainment, but this reflex can be damaging.

Kids need to be exercising daily, and so do we. Getting young kids into daily exercise will not only just be a good lifetime habit, but it’s also vital to their development. Regular exercise helps with their coordination, bone strength, and their cardiovascular system. Going for daily family walks is a great way for you and your kids to make light exercise a daily habit. You can also enroll your kids in team sports, which will not only help them find a constructive activity they enjoy, but will also help with mental development.

Dental Habits

Getting kids to brush their teeth can be a struggle. So many aspects of teeth brushing can factor into this: the flavor, the foaminess, the roughness of the toothbrush, and just plain not wanting to leave playtime to go do it. But even though toddlers and young kids are just going to lose those teeth, you still need to emphasize the importance of dental hygiene. You can get your kids excited about brushing their teeth by doing things like letting them choose out their own toothpaste and toothbrush, playing fun music while brushing, and rewarding them for each time they brush with a sticker chart and prize.

Along with getting your kids in the habit of brushing their teeth every morning and night is getting them comfortable at the dentist. Going to the dentist can be a scary experience for young children, but avoiding checkups is the last thing you want to do. Instead, get them in young and help normalize the experience. To help prepare kids for their first dentist appointment, you can show them a fun video explaining what’s going to happen and what the different tools do. Have their dentist reiterate these things, and it should help ease their anxiety about dental checkups.

Daily Hygiene Habits

It’s a fact of life that kids get dirty, especially their hands. With no concept of what can make you sick, kids will gladly play in the dirt, roll on the floor, and then eat finger food while sharing a drink with their friend. While some germ exposure is good for developing a healthy immune system, there are some lines to be drawn — particularly when it comes to flu season.

Developing healthy hygiene habits is going to be your best defense when it comes to illness. Make sure your kids are always washing their hands before they eat, and teach them the proper way to scrub and for how long to be most effective. Especially important for kids in school is to discourage sharing of food among friends and to always wash hands after playtime and before snack and mealtimes; while teachers should be making sure kids wash their hands during these times, it always helps kids to already have the habit and to know how to properly do it for it to be most effective.

While making daily habits can be hard to do when our lives get so busy, taking the time to instill healthy life habits in our kids is going to not only bring some focus back to our lives, but help set up our kids for future good health. Have any tips you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments!

Mila is a freelance writer with a B.A. in Linguistics. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and studying foreign languages.