Starting healthy habits early is crucial for setting kids up for a lifetime of success. And what better way to help them develop those habits than by modeling them yourself?
According to studies, parenting and home environment influence a child’s eating habits and exercise. Children of parents who live healthfully are more likely to develop healthy habits themselves. So, if you want your kids to build healthy habits, setting a good example yourself is the best place to start.
As a parent, you have the unique opportunity to instill in your children the importance of a healthy lifestyle. But which healthy habits are worth passing to your kids as early as now?
Keeping Up With Health Appointments
Many parents would skip their health appointments but force their kids to go to theirs. As a result, kids would develop the impression that their health is not a priority.
Instead of sending them this message, show your kids how important it is to take care of your health by keeping up with your own appointments. This way, they’ll learn that maintaining their health should be a top priority. You can do this by keeping up with your health appointments, such as health checkups, immunizations, and cancer screenings.
Don’t forget to show kids your eagerness to visit your local dentist. If kids can see that you have a good relationship with your dentist and try to avoid dental problems, they will too! Introduce them early to the dentist by taking them with you during your dental checkups. Find a dental partner that already offers a wide variety of dental services and can handle dental emergencies. This will show kids they don’t need to wait just to get their teeth fixed.
Eating Breakfast Daily
For a good reason, breakfast is the first and most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast can improve concentration and grades and reduce disciplinary problems at school. Moreover, kids who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight or obese.
Setting a good example for your kids by eating breakfast will encourage them to do the same. If you’re not a morning person, try preparing breakfast the night before or keeping quick and healthy breakfast options on hand. Remember that it doesn’t have to be anything fancy – a bowl of cereal or some toast with peanut butter will do the trick.
But if you have the time and really want your kids to enjoy their first meal of the day, you can try a few tricks to make breakfast more fun and exciting. For example, you can ask your kids the night before what breakfast they want in the morning. You can also spice things up a bit by making their breakfast look like a fun character or animal. Don’t forget to find time to eat together as a family to show them that you, too, enjoy eating your own breakfast.
Getting Enough Sleep
Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night, but children need even more – between 9 and 12 hours, depending on their age. Getting enough sleep is vital for concentration, learning, mood, weight control, and overall health. A good bedtime routine can help ensure your child gets enough sleep each night.
Establishing a bedtime routine may include taking a bath or shower, reading books together, brushing teeth, and putting on PJs. Establish and stick to this routine as much as possible, so your child knows when it’s time to wind down for the night. If possible, show your kids that you also do this at night. This will make them question you less and go to bed easier.
Creating a sleep-friendly environment in your child’s bedroom is also necessary. This means keeping the room dark, quiet, and cool. Finally, make sure your child’s bedroom is a screen-free zone. This means no TV, laptops, tablets, or phones in the bedroom. The blue light emitted from screens can disrupt sleep, so it’s best to avoid them before bedtime.
Being Active Every Day
Regular physical activity is essential for improving mental health, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing one’s risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. Help your kids develop a love for being active by making it fun. Go for family walks or bike rides together, play tag in the backyard, or dance around the living room to their favorite songs.
Try to incorporate exercise into everyone’s daily routine. For one, you can motivate kids to exercise with you by doing household chores together. You can also try walking or biking to school if it’s safe and feasible. If you have a backyard, consider setting up a small playground where your kids can run and explore.
And when the weather doesn’t permit outdoor activities, there are plenty of fun indoor exercises you can do as a family. From jumping jacks to push-ups to dancing, there are endless possibilities. Find an activity that everyone enjoys and make it a part of your daily routine.
Limiting Screen Time
Many parents are guilty of being present but absent. This means even as you spend time with your family, kids feel emotionally and physically detached from you because you are always on your gadget. You could be working on your laptop, constantly looking at your phone, or watching TV. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to reduce your screen time.
Make a conscious effort to put away your gadgets when you’re with your kids. This will give you undivided attention and send the message that they are more important than whatever is going on on your device. If you can, try to establish gadget-free zones in your house, such as the dining table or family room. This will encourage quality family time and conversations without any distractions.
You should also limit your child’s screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than an hour per day for kids over 2 years old. Instead of plopping them in front of the TV, try engaging them in other activities such as reading, playing outside, or doing crafts.
Parenting is not easy, but it’s one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. Teaching your kids healthy habits at an early age sets them up for a lifetime of success. So start incorporating these habits into your family’s routine and watch your kids grow into happy, healthy adults.