One of the most challenging parts of parenting is perhaps raising a healthy child. It certainly seems daunting, even more so when you yourself are finding it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, raising healthy children doesn’t need to be as complicated as some may make it out to be. Here are some guidelines that you can follow.
Make Physical Activity Fun
When it comes to health, there’s a big focus on food and eating right. This isn’t entirely wrong. Proper nutrition, after all, is quite important. However, you shouldn’t forget about staying active. Exercise isn’t just for adults. Children should also get their daily dose of physical activity. “Exercise” might sound boring to a child, though. To make it more enticing, don’t use the term “exercise” but rather phrases like “active time.”
You should also try not to make exercise seem a responsibility or a task. Consider using toys as exercise accessories. Jump ropes and various balls for catching and shooting are perfect examples. Another great example are backyard monkey bars. These are perfect for children who prefer to do things their way instead of a more structured activity. If exercise is something that your children can enjoy, you’d probably have a harder time getting them to stop than getting them to move in the first place.
Develop Habits Early
Healthy habits like hand washing before and after meals and after using the loo are best taught at an early age. This way, such habits will be more ingrained and your child will be more independent about them. Other valuable healthy practices to teach your children include getting enough sleep and sleeping on time, proper dental care (including using floss), and reading.
Like exercise, it’s best to make these things more fun so that your child will be more likely to do them. Create rituals around these activities, like singing a happy song while washing hands or reading a story before bedtime. The latter even hits two birds with one stone! Before long, your child will be the one to remind you how to do something the right way or remind you that it’s time for your “rituals.”
Involve the Whole Family
Being healthy is a family affair, and your child will be more likely to practice healthy habits if everyone is doing the same thing. From eating meals together to keeping the house clean, it’s best to get the whole family involved. If your child has an older sibling that they idolize, all the better. Enlist their help to teach the young ones why eating their vegetables and cleaning their room is good for everybody.
Prepare Healthy Food Together
Getting children to eat vegetables and other healthy foods is a tough nut to crack. This is especially true if they’re already used to some tastes and have already developed their favorites. One way to encourage your child to eat healthy is make them more involved in the food’s preparation. They might be reluctant to eat what you serve because they don’t know what you put in it. By showing them how the food is made, they might become more interested.
Another great idea is to start a small garden of easy-to-grow fruits and vegetables. This gives them a sense of ownership and pride of having cultivated a plant from start to finish. Then, use the things you’ve harvested for preparing healthy and delicious meals. Make sure to emphasize the importance of the ingredient, even if it’s just a pinch of herbs or a few pieces of cherry tomatoes. If a child feels that they’ve contributed something, they may feel more likely to partake of their “creation.”
Be a Role Model
Children are impressionable and they are highly likely to copy what everybody else around them does. If you’re often saying dirty words, they might start saying the same words even if they don’t know the meaning. This goes the same with healthy habits. If you tell them to go to sleep on time but you yourself don’t do it, the lesson won’t stick. If you tell your child to eat their broccoli but they see you pushing your serving aside, they might wonder if broccoli is really good for them. Make sure to do as you say, especially when it comes to matters like healthy practices.
Remember that these are just guidelines. They aren’t set in stone, and it’s highly recommended that you tweak them to suit your own child’s personality. Each child is different and there’s no cookie-cutter way of raising a child. However, we can all agree that it’s beneficial to cultivate healthy habits as early as possible. After all, we all want children to be able live up to their full potential.