One of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is a framework for living a healthy lifestyle. It is hard to overestimate the power that parents have on their children’s development, which is why parenting is such a huge responsibility.
The habits formed while your children are young can influence their health in their adult years. From eating healthy to exercising, it is crucial for parents to instill healthy habits early. Here are some ideas for parents looking to raise healthy children who grow up to be healthy adults.
Good eating, sleeping, and exercise habits should begin early. Starting early will help save you (and your adult children) from the difficulties of breaking bad habits later on. Not only that, it can help lead to good physical health and lower health care costs in the future. People underestimate how much impact—financial and otherwise—a healthy lifestyle can have.
Make healthy living a family affair. Consider the impact that even small actions can have. Did you know that kids who frequently eat with their families tend to choose healthy foods like fruits and vegetables over soft drinks and fast food? Likewise, these kids generally continue their healthy habits into adulthood. In today’s fast-paced environment, many parents are stopping at fast food joints, which can teach your child to choose convenience over health.
Plan for Healthy Meals and Snacks
In today’s modern life, we are busier than ever, but try to plan for healthy eating by stocking nutritious foods and snacks in the house. You may even want to cook a few meals over the weekend to prepare for the week ahead.
If you’re looking to improve dieting behaviors, be sure to move slowly with these changes. I often sneak veggies into sauces and pasta (shhh!) so my kids don’t notice. Exposing your child to different foods often and pairing them with foods they already like makes the process a bit easier.
Take the time to cook with your children and teach them what each ingredient is and what it is used for. Teaching children how to cook is a skill that will stay with them throughout their life.
It may be harder than ever to tear children away from their tablet, smartphone, or computer, but it’s crucial that children engage in active play.
Their activity doesn’t have to be part of an organized event. Challenge your children to a push-up contest, or offer to play goalie so they can practice soccer kicks. My son loves indoor basketball where he can play against his dad. Connect physical activity to a positive experience.
Be a Role Model
Lessons are difficult to teach if the teachers are not practicing what they preach. Be sure to lead by example, and start while your children are young. Take any moment you can, and turn it into a teaching moment. Show what it takes to earn things, work hard, and live by the golden rule.
Healthy living is not only about food. It also involves good sleep habits, mental health, and spreading kindness, which helps not only ourselves but others. If we all could take the time to instill a desire for a healthy lifestyle in our children, we would make the world a better place one day at a time.