Adults with bad health habits learned most of them in their youth. Consider your own experience. One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is a set of healthy habits. This includes self-care, diet, exercise, communication skills, and self-management skills. Think about how your life would be different if you had been taught these things during your childhood.
Childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. For all the amazing medical advances, many children are still very unhealthy due to their dietary, exercise, and self-care habits. Once a child develops unhealthy habits, it can be quite challenging to change them. It’s even more challenging for an adult to change.
You can effectively reduce the risk of obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and host of other diseases by demonstrating and reinforcing healthy habits in the family setting. Make this a family priority.
Teach your children healthy habits that will last a lifetime:
- Know that your kids are always watching. Even if you think they’re not listening, they’re certainly watching. So, it’s important to be a good role model. Exhibit the types of behaviors you’d like your children to adopt. This includes grooming habits, like brushing your teeth, eating habits, how you communicate with others, and how you deal with negative emotions.
- Make a list of healthy habits and demonstrate them every day.
- Do physical activities together. Take a walk, go to the park, go for a hike, or take a bike ride together. Teach your children that regular exercise is good for them. This means that you’ll have to exercise, too.
- Place limits on the time spent playing video games and watching TV. These activities are so stimulating that it can be challenging to learn how to focus on anything else. Books, board games, and good old-fashioned toys are suitable substitutes.
- Have dinner together, and make it healthy. Have a healthy conversation while you’re at it. Teach your children about healthy foods. Young children love to help cook, and it’s a valuable skill.
- Teach them that deserts should be consumed in moderation. The same goes for sugared drinks.
- Talk about the components of a healthy meal. Teach the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods.
- Set a bedtime and stick to it. Everyone needs a bedtime, including parents and teenagers. Teach the importance of sleep. Develop a healthy bedtime routine. It might include an oral hygiene routine and 15 minutes of reading before turning off the light.
- Communicate calmly and fairly. Make it a requirement for everyone in the family. Show your children how to resolve conflict and share their feelings in a healthy way. Set a good example with your spouse.
- Be safe. Practice looking both ways before crossing the street. Be wary of stray dogs and strangers. Lock the doors at night. Before doing something new, consider the dangers before moving forward.
- Make regular visits to the doctor. Teach your child that regular visits to the doctor are important for his health.
- Praise good decisions. When you catch one of your kids, or your spouse, doing something right, praise them. Rewarded behaviors are more likely to reoccur in the future.
If you don’t currently have healthy family habits, decide to get started today. Make changes to your family routines slowly. There’s no hurry. Your family will put up less of a fight if you make small changes over a longer period of time. The habits you instill in your children can affect them for the rest of their lives. Remember, they’re always watching.