Children learn by example, and the best way to encourage good habits is to practice your own healthy habits. It can send mixed signals if you’re trying to encourage your child to eat healthy while you don’t have a healthy diet yourself. It’s important to be a positive role model to your children so they will develop habits that will benefit them now and in the future.
Making a plan to get the whole family up and moving is one way to encourage physical activity. If your children see that you are physically active, they are likely to want to follow in your footsteps. Find a nearby gym, such as Fitness 19, and work on improving your own health. Make exercising a fun family affair by playing sports together or doing something else that gets the heart pumping and the blood flowing. Ensure you take the time to talk to your children about the many ways physical activity benefits their overall health, such as lowering blood pressure, decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, and developing strong bones and muscles.
Eating a Proper Diet
All parents want their children to be as healthy as possible. One way to ensure your child remains in optimal health is by making sure their diet is filled with a wide range of healthy foods. Children will be more likely to eat right if they watch their parents eating healthy foods. One of the best ways to encourage healthy eating is by decreasing the amount of sugar and fat the whole family eats. Replace sugary and high-fat foods with healthier options such as lean cut protein sources (not necessarily even meat), whole grain bread, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy or almond milk products.
Encourage Relaxation Time
It’s important to encourage relaxation time for the whole family. Relaxation has many benefits including slowing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, reducing chronic pain, lowering fatigue, increasing blood flow to major muscles, and reducing stress. Whether you’re reading together, listening to music, or doing stretches, your children will appreciate having some downtime to take a break from their hectic schedules.
Limit Your Own Screen Time
If you spend most of the day staring at your phone, computer, tablet, or television, chances are your children have noticed. One way to encourage your children to spend less time glued to the screen is by limiting your own screen time. Children over the age of two shouldn’t have more than two hours per day of screen time, according to the American Association of Pediatrics. You can replace screen time with family time instead.
Too much screen time can:
- Increase risk of childhood obesity
- Make children have a more difficult time in school
- Result in aggressive behavior
- Increase risk of child engaging in risky behavior
- Exposes children to commercials, propaganda, and advertisements
Instead of picking up your phone, pick up a book instead or go outside and enjoy nature. Children may not always like having limited screen time, but it’s important to be the parent and explain to them why you are setting limitations.
Children absorb things like sponges, which is why it’s important to set a good example for them. Talk to them about the benefits of exercising, eating right, and relaxation. Provide plenty of things for them to do to distract them from wanting to watch television. Encourage family activities, such as outdoor play or reading together. Children are more likely to develop their own healthy habits when they take notice of their parent’s healthy habits.