Want a healthy lifestyle for your children? Model it! Here are some ways that you can model healthy behavior for your children.
Parents are the single most important influence on their children’s development. Kids watch carefully what mom and dad do, picking up on even the smallest verbal and nonverbal cues and using this behavior as a template for their own. That’s why it’s so important for parents to exhibit good, healthy habits, including a well-rounded diet and exercising on a regular basis. Those are the basics and they’re very important, but there are other habits that need to be imparted to your children as well. There are a number of strategies that can help any parent encourage kids to accept and appreciate the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, habits that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
Modeling good behavior includes maintaining a positive and upbeat demeanor around your kids. Resist giving into temptation and letting fly with four-letter words when you hit your head or drop a glass. That kind of display can’t fail to make a negative impression. Instead, try teaching them to deal with misfortune in a positive manner and that to lose control won’t help make a difficult situation better. Take the same approach when your kids do something wrong and remember to praise them for their successes and good tries.
Limit TV, computer and video game time
Try to restrict television, computer and gaming time to 2 hours a day (there are apps for this too!) so your kids don’t fall into a sedentary pattern, which can lead to health problems down the road, such as heart disease and obesity. Encourage children to play outside as much as possible, and foster an interest in sports (though never force a kid to play sports). Remember, the idea is to get them used to follow an active lifestyle that will aid their physical development, muscle growth and coordination.
And above all, be sure to join them for laid-back afternoon fun in the backyard. Invite the family over and hang out with them (and watch them closely) by the kiddie pool or add a swing set feature! Make sure your set is free of jagged metal edges or exposed bolts. Be sure to carefully select your swing set based on your child’s age, weight range and of course their preferred activities!
The family that dines together …
Make a habit of eating dinner together as a family every day. Kids benefit from the interaction and feel accepted and loved by their parents, which lessens the chance that they might seek the approval of people who represent negative influences. They feel encouraged to speak up confidently in school. Eating together makes it much easier for everyone to catch up with each other’s lives. That means, as a parent, you can keep up with homework, schoolwork results, and any problems kids are experiencing at school. Having a regular family time together also reduces the chances that kids will turn to drugs, cigarettes or alcohol.
Eating a meal together also increases the likelihood that kids will eat foods from the five basic food groups. Invite them to help prepare dinner and use the opportunity to teach them about nutrition and the benefits of eating the right foods, healthy portions, and eating in moderation. Take it a step further by getting kids involved in creating meal menus, allowing them to focus on healthy foods they enjoy. It’ll be a learning experience (they might even learn some math) and everyone will benefit from the time spent working together.
Remember, the earlier you can instill good habits in your child, the better their chances of growing up healthy. Obesity is a condition that starts in early childhood because the sedentary behavior is learned behavior. If you’re not active and don’t eat enough healthy foods, your kids probably won’t either.