Why should we focus on healthy habits for kids? The answer is simple: Whatever, is adopted in early stages of life becomes an absolute habit of a person and these habits in most cases decide what kind of person a child is going to become. Succinctly saying, “Your Future Depends on It Bro!”
Childhood is a crucial stage of life. Early experiences and associations formed in this part of life stay with us for our entire adulthood. It is no wonder that psychologists emphasize the importance of healthy habits for kids. According to a study, habits take root in children by age of 9. If parents successfully instill some good habits in their children, it makes them a better adult and helps them throughout their adult life. However, no one can deny that raising children is a difficult job. No one is born a perfect parent. That’s why here is a helpful guide for parents so that they can help promote healthy habits in kids.
What are some of the most Important Healthy Habits for Kids?
If you look up which healthy habits to teach your child, you’ll be bombarded with a hundred different answers. Not only is it impossible to teach all of the good habits to your kids but it’s also confusing to pick and choose from them. However, there are some basic healthy habits that should be on the top of the priority list. This includes a healthy body and a healthy mind. It is important to focus equally on both the body and mind if you want your kids to grow up healthy. Therefore, two of the most important healthy habits for kids include eating well and staying active. This will not only make their bodies healthy but also develop their personalities.
“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” – Samuel Johnson
Eating Habits – 5 Ways you can Promote Healthy Eating for Children
Food is essential to our bodies. It provides us with fuel and energy to live everyday. However, it’s not as simple as that. Food can be a very complicated matter. Not everyone has a healthy relationship with it. In fact, if parents don’t actively try to associate positivity with food, children can develop eating disorders. There’s a whole spectrum of eating disorders that has detrimental and long lasting effects on children and adults alike. So, here are a few ways parents can help children have a better relationship with food and promote healthy eating for children.
How to Promote Healthy Habits for Children? Get Them Involved with Food Process
Do not separate your kids from the process of cooking. Take them to the grocery store to shop for food. Get them to help in the kitchen with cooking meals. Go a step further and get your kids to help grow your own vegetables or herbs in the garden. Children are more likely to be enthusiastic about food and meals if they produce it on their own. When they’re involved in this process, it gives them a sense of joy and fulfillment, therefore associating positive emotions with food.
Snacks are not bad. Unhealthy snacks at irregular times are bad. As a parent, you can be smart about snacking and set a fixed time for it. Make sure it is in-between the meals and not too close to dinner time as that will reduce the kid’s appetite. Snacks don’t have to consist of chips, crackers, candy and soda, etc. There are so many healthy snack options for kids available that you can try.
Using Food as Punishment or Reward isn’t a Good Habit
This has been a common practice since forever. But recent studies have shown that using food as a reward or punishment has harmful effects on children. When you use food as a reward, for example, allowing kids to have desserts for finishing their veggies, their brain gets the message that vegetables must be bad. That’s why they’re getting rewarded for eating them.
Similarly, when you use food as a punishment, for example, not allowing kids to have dinner for misbehaving, they will start overeating because they won’t be sure if they’ll get the next meal. All of this leads to forming negative associations with food and eating disorders. That’s why parents must never do this.
Create Pleasant Mealtimes for Healthy Association with Food
One of the quickest way to develop healthy eating for children is to make mealtimes enjoyable. When the whole family is gathered around a table and everyone is enjoying themselves, the kids are likely to want to stay there and finish their food. As opposed to when mealtimes are full of angry and disapproving comments, which makes the kids eat faster and leave the table.
Do Not Ban Junk Food or Fast Food
Banning any food or anything in general simply leads to more curiosity in children. It makes that thing more desirable for them. Children are likely to eat a lot of junk food in secret if it is banned at their house. A healthy way to get them to eat healthy and not covet junk food is to give them fast food from time to time. However, make sure these moments are random and not used as a reward system for reasons mentioned earlier.
Physical Habits – 5 Tips to Promote Healthy Habits for Kids and Make them More Active
In addition to promoting healthy eating habits in kids, it is also important to encourage your child to become more active. Physical fitness is important and if you neglect it, it’s leads to numerous health issues in the later life. Unfortunately, exercise isn’t practiced by many adults, mostly because it was never encouraged in their childhood. Here are some ways you can get your children to get moving and not make it feel like a chore.
Instead of becoming authoritative and forcing your kids to exercise regularly, it is better to start with simple walks. Since children mimic their parents, it’s obvious that parents with good habits will have good kids. Be a good role model to them and make walking a part of your daily life. You can do so by taking a walk in the mornings or evenings, walking to the grocery store, shopping or to the park, etc. You can walk your children to their school bus stop as well. When walks become a part of your kid’s life, they’ll automatically become physically healthy.
Get Active as a Whole Family
The goal is to make exercising fun. When the whole family gets together and enjoys a sport, it stops becoming boring. You can plan such organized sports events on weekends to make your family active. If your children look forward to this activity, they’ll associate positive emotions with it, which will help them later as adults too.
Let Your Kids Try Various Sports.
Some kids do not adore sports. For them, walking and light exercises are perfect. However, if your kid doesn’t find a sport they are interested in, it doesn’t mean they have to give up on it entirely. They can keep trying various sports until they like one eventually. As a parent, you shouldn’t be critical of them for changing their mind too often, at least not in this matter. They should feel free to try as many things as they like. Once they find a sport worth liking, you won’t have to push them to be more active. They’ll do it on their own.
Invite their Friends over for Games
Another way to make sports and exercises more fun for your children is to involve their friends. You can invite their friends over for games and supervise them as they play it. By doing this, you take the chore-like feeling out of it and make it enjoyable for them. This will lead to them learning cooperation, team work and sportsmanship, which are some awesome healthy habits for kids.
Break Down Rigorous Activities into Smaller Parts
Ideally, your kids should get one hour of physical exercise everyday. However, for young children, that’s too long and tiring. To remedy that, you can break down more rigorous activities into smaller sessions of 10 to 15 minutes. Then take a five to ten minutes break. Doing this is less tiring and encourages your kids to go on.
To conclude, there are many healthy habits for kids that parents can help them develop over time. All it takes is constant effort and the willingness to stick through as your child struggles and grow. Not only it is your duty as a parent but, also the joy of seeing kids grow up into their potential is a reward in itself. So, be a good parent, in fact the best of parents and help your kids develop healthy habits one step at a time and see the wonders happening.