How to Keep Your Kids Interested in Healthy Habits
Part of our jobs as parents is teaching our kids healthy habits with lasting benefits. This includes everything from regular exercise to encouraging good food choices. Here are some ways to get — and keep — kids on the right track.
Be a Good Role Model
To really show kids the advantages of a healthy lifestyle you need to demonstrate these behaviors yourself. Setting a positive example doesn’t mean you have to be perfect all the time; it just means you have to do your best to walk the walk. Kids will do as you do, so send a message that good health is important.
Make a Point to Read Food Labels
Count out how many crackers (or nuts or chips, etc.) are in a serving so your kids get a mental picture of what a serving size looks like, as well as how much fat and calories each serving contains. Get your kiddos in the habit of measuring out a serving and putting it into a small bowl instead of eating straight out of the bag. Talk to them about how many calories a day are healthy for their age and size. The entire family will learn what’s good for them and be more conscious of what and how much they eat. It’s a habit that helps change behavior for a lifetime.
Get the Family Moving
Plan times for everyone to exercise together. It’s easier than it sounds — simply take walks, shoot hoops, walk the dog, ride bikes, go swimming or just have a dance-off in the living room. Everyone will benefit from the exercise and the bonding.
Limit TV, Video Game and Computer Time
Restrict screen time to two hours per day to keep kids from adopting a sedentary lifestyle.
Keep Things Positive
Kids don’t like to hear what they can’t do, so tell them what they can do instead. Keep it fun and positive. Celebrate successes and praise them for a job well done. Help them develop healthy self-esteem and a positive mindset by teaching them they’re lovable, capable and unique, no matter what challenges they encounter.
Encourage Physical Activities They’ll Enjoy
Every child is unique. If your child hasn’t found their activity niche yet, encourage them to keep trying. Let them experiment with different sports until they find something they really love. They’ll stick with it longer if they enjoy it. And they may very well carry their love of these activities into adulthood.
Taste the Rainbow
Eating different colored food is not only healthy — it’s fun. Help your kids understand the nutritional value of a rainbow-colored diet. Not every meal needs to be learning opportunity, but you should make an effort to incorporate a colorful range — from red, blue and orange to yellow, green and brown — of fruits and vegetables into their diet.
Be an advocate for healthier children. Insist on good food choices at school. And make sure your children’s doctors are monitoring cardiovascular indicators such as BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Setting realistic goals and limits are key to adopting any new behavior. Gradual changes can make a big difference in your family’s health over time, so start small and build up.