Most parents strive to give their children a better life than they had, and to instill good values to help them achieve it. When it comes to food and exercise, parents truly have a wonderful opportunity to help their kids build healthy habits when they lead by example. “If your habits are healthy—eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, looking forward to tomorrow, for example—your children are more likely to build those habits in their own lives” (U of M Health). Keep reading for our top three tips for how to help your child build lasting, healthy habits.
Make Meals Colorful
Filling your meals with a variety of colors means that you are adding a range of nutritional values, and it makes teaching your kid the value of eating colors easy. For example, explain to them the importance of eating red foods (apples), green foods (broccoli), white foods (potatoes), and orange foods (carrots). By making these healthy foods seem fun, you increase the likelihood of your child enjoying eating them. You can also include your child while you are cooking so they get excited about helping out and are more likely to try the food you make together.
Whether it’s sports or spending time together outside, exposing your child to a variety of activities helps them learn to enjoy being active. “The Mayo Clinic reports that kids who watch more than an hour or two of television a day are at greater risk for a number of health problems, including:
- impaired performance at school
- behavioral difficulties, including emotional and social problems and attention disorders
- obesity or being overweight
- irregular sleep, including trouble falling asleep and resisting bedtime
- less time to play”
Whether it’s enrolling your child in a variety of sports so they can find what they love, or committing to being active together for a few hours every day, you are helping your child create the habits they need for a long, happy life.
Keep it Positive
Just because you want your child to eat healthy most of the time doesn’t mean you should stigmatize “bad” foods. When foods are labelled “good” or “bad”, you create negative associations for them in your children, when what you should be teaching them is moderation and leading by example. Enjoy the special moments of biking to get ice cream or baking cookies together. By doing this, you allow them to associate these “special treats” with special times, and they are not meant to be eaten every day or with every meal.
The best way to teach your kids is to lead by example, and there is nothing more rewarding than watching your child blossom into a healthy and happy person! We hope these tips help you on your parenting journey.