Children are like sponges- literally! Their developing brains just soak up every little piece of new information and incorporate it into their development. With each passing day, your kid is developing physically and emotionally. As a parent, and your kid’s role model, you must teach them good values and habits from day one.
Teaching your kids healthy habits early will greatly improve their quality of life for the future. What should you teach your children when it comes to health and wellness? Keep reading to learn some of my personal recommendations and to find out some ways to talk to your children about being healthy.
Healthy Relationship with Food
One of the top ways I teach my children to be healthy is by paying attention to what they put in their bodies. Their relationship with food will impact not only their physical health but is also closely connected to their mental health. I am absolutely the kind of mom who LOVES a quick and easy pizza night, but balance is key.
Teaching them all about the health benefits of good foods is important, but their education shouldn’t stop there. I want my children to know how to eat healthily, but I also want them to know it’s ok to indulge in moderation. It’s important to make sure your kids have awareness of what they're putting into their bodies, but there is such a fine line that you have to be careful not to cross. Paying too much attention to their diet can cause feelings of anxiety and can lead to mental health struggles as they get older.
Teach your children that everyone's bodies are different and while there are some basic nutrition tips that can benefit everyone, they should focus on their own bodies first. Children should be able to express when they’re hungry and when they’re full, and they usually can express their cravings, too. Help your kids open up about these thoughts and feelings so they can be more in tune with their bodies!
Good personal hygiene is so important to instill in children as early as you can. Learning to take care of their physical bodies by doing tasks like washing their hands, showering every day, and brushing their teeth is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Implementing healthy habits into their personal hygiene routine is going to change the way they think about themselves and will boost their confidence. It’s true for all of us when we look better, we feel better!
This habit is probably what comes to mind first when you think of teaching your children to be healthy (and for good reason). Kids are not made to sit on the couch and watch television all day. A sedentary lifestyle will lead them to become overweight and has been linked to lower performance at school. Nip those negative effects in the bud by teaching your children from an early age to enjoy being active.
How can you teach your children to be healthy?
The key to teaching your children to be healthy is to start when they are young. Trust me, it’s a lot easier to instill healthy habits in a two-year-old than to change the habits of a rude teenager. Make it fun and engaging and it won’t even feel like learning!
Do you know how your kids go through those phases where they copy EVERYTHING you say and do? The most effective way I have found to teach my children to be healthy is by modeling the behaviors and habits I want them to adopt. If I’m gonna talk the talk, I gotta walk the walk.
Let Them Be Involved
Don’t just buy healthy groceries and serve them to your kids. Take them with you to the grocery store and let them pick out what (healthy) foods they want to eat. I promise you- a five-year-old is much more likely to eat a vegetable they pick out than one you put on their plate for them.
If your goal is to get your kids more active, let them pick out an activity to try and do it with them! If they want to have a dance party to get their blood pumping- turn up that music and put your dancing shoes on. If they want to jump on the trampoline- jump up there with them (or maybe just cheer them on from the ground).
Giving kids choices lets them have a sense of power and control over their life. That is a huge step in growing up and an excellent way to get your kids to buy into a healthier lifestyle.
Give Positive Praise
Positive reinforcement like giving a high-five, clapping and cheering, or giving verbal positive praise is the most effective way to increase the behaviors you want to see in your kids. Think about it: when you get praised for something, you feel good.
Researchers have found that when someone is praised, dopamine is released into their brain. Dopamine is the same chemical that is released when we fall in love or even eat a cupcake. Associating a certain activity (like eating right or exercising) with a good feeling will increase that activity in the future. So, next time you see your children making positive and healthy choices, don’t forget to give them positive praise!
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