We spend so much time trying to create our own healthy habits. As adults our bodies don’t work as well as they used to. So, we work twice as hard to change our lifestyle to feel better. Sometimes it is considered so normal for kids to have unhealthy habits because we know that their little bodies handle it so much better than ours. Not to mention that sometimes it’s so much easier to make some quick mac and cheese rather than a whole complicated healthy dinner.
However, we struggle so hard to create these habits as adults because they were never habits in the first place. Think about how much easier it would be if these habits were created early on. What if the health habits were as simple as brushing our teeth every night? Or as washing our hands? How much could we minimize those kinds of struggles for our kids? Actually, I feel like it could help us stick to the healthy habits if we are working on teaching our kids to do it as well. So, what are some of the basic healthy habits that we can start teaching our kids now?
It is so easy to turn snack time for kids into a time that they have a poptart or a bag of chips or a juice box. These kinds of snacks are full of sugar and saturated fats. We could switch up their snacks to things more like apple slices, grapes, carrots, or other healthier options. Additionally, we can help with controlling snacking. My youngest child has such a hard time sitting still and eating a meal. He used to nitpick and only eat a little bit and then ask for snacks all throughout the day. When I realized that it was just getting worse, I knew I had to get a bit stricter. For a little while we had to say no to any kind of snacking. He would be hungry enough that he would actually make it through his meals. We, as the parents, have the ability to control this kind of thing and encourage better snacking habits.
It is known that if you get a bit of exercise before bed it can help you sleep better. Encourage your kids to do some pushups, situps, jumping jacks, squats, and more. Start young and do 5-10 reps of each one. Not only will it create a healthy habit for your kids but will probably have them going to bed better and getting a better sleep. The other added bonus for you is to be doing it with them and becoming stronger yourself and sleeping better.
I’m not going to sit here and preach that your kids need to be eating tuna fish for lunch and half a plate of broccoli with their dinner. Let’s face it, kids can be picky and stubborn. One thing I had to learn having a kid with autism and hypersensitivity, is that if I made mealtime a negative thing, he would eat less and less. However, this is a concept that can really be put into most parenting topics. It’s much better to use positive reinforcement than negative. So, where I am not mother of the year in perfect food choices for dinner, I do make it a point to be introducing the foods. I have a sticker chart for my kids that they get a sticker for having something good from each food group. This means they get to help make the decision on what veggie they are going to have on their plate. When they get a choice, I get much less whining about it. And when they fill up their sticker chart, they get a reward.
Reading VS Television
We live in a day and age where technology is so prevalent that it has become the normal way of life. Instead of having your kids sit down to watch a movie, opt for a book. This can instigate a whole bunch of activities centered around books. A trip to the library where they get to pick out the books that look the most exciting, or even participate in story time. A book series that you can read aloud to your kids on a daily basis and enjoy as a family. Even if your kids can’t read on their own, encourage them to look through the pictures. My four-year-old has been known to make up his own story about the pictures in the book. This is actually a really great exercise for the kids to practice. I also can’t tell you how proud it makes me when my kids are laughing out loud at a book, I’m reading to them. To see them have real joy over a book is amazing.
They Thrive on It
It may not be something they ask you for, but the stability is really great for young children. Do what you need to, to make it work for your children and your current circumstances. Because we all have different lives and personalities. Everyone is different. Find your own unique activities to incorporate into the healthy habits that you are trying to create. It’s an amazing responsibility to be a part of and it makes me proud to see my kids doing well with it. What other healthy habits do you think should be on the list?