Keeping Your Kids Healthy: Good Habits Start Young
All parents want their children to live long, healthy lives. And while your kids can create healthy habits at any age, it’s easiest to teach and instill habits if you get them started down the right path when they’re young. This way, as they get older, they already know how good it feels to take care of their bodies. To start your kids off on the healthiest foot possible, try these strategies:
- Lead by example: The “do as I say, not as I do” approach doesn’t translate with kids. Children regularly take cues from their parents on what kind of foods to eat and how to be active. Try stocking the fridge with fresh fruits and veggies and limiting processed snacks—and then make sure your kids see you choosing those foods when you’re hungry. Also, don’t forget to build activity into your day so your kids see the importance of regular exercise. Watching you lace up for a morning jog or biking to a nearby store instead of driving will show them that it’s easy to stay fit.
- Help them understand the “why”: As adults, we know why we need to focus on and prioritize our health. But to kids, choosing an apple over a candy bar might not make much sense. Try doing some hands-on activities that teach them why certain behaviors (like washing hands and wearing seat belts) are good for them. This sun safety activity even incorporates arts and crafts into the mix!
- Get them involved: One of the best ways to gets kids excited about being healthy is to get them involved in the process. The next time you’re cooking a nutritious dinner, ask your kid to pick what veggie you’ll serve and get their help with age-appropriate food prep. On the weekends, let your kid choose what fun fitness activity the family is going to do together, like a bike ride to the park or a walk through the woods. Encouraging children to make the healthy decisions will foster their independence and confidence.
- Keep it fun: A little healthy competition will get your kids excited about living a healthy life and boost their self-esteem. Come up with goals—it can be as simple as finishing all of their veggies at dinner to doing 10 jumping jacks during TV commercials—and prizes for when your kids reach them. You can even make games out of activities like reading nutrition labels, cut fruits and veggies into fun shapes or make kid-friendly twists to your favorite recipes. On top of these great options, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s #MIKidsCan campaign allows kids to take a health pledge and offers a number of contests and rewards to acknowledge their hard work at living healthy and active lives.
Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s photostream