Feeding a child vegetables and convincing them to go outside may be like pulling teeth, but building healthy habits leads to a lifetime of benefits. Regular exercise can lead to lower stress levels, better sleep and higher self esteem. Children need to eat nutrient-rich foods to develop properly and to curb obesity. If your child starts building healthy habits now, they won’t have to play catch-up later in life. Here’s how we recommend encouraging your child to live a healthy lifestyle.
Make a Plan
When you’re looking to accomplish a goal, you need a plan. For children, a specific weight or size isn’t a healthy objective, as this can lead to feelings of shame. Make a realistic goal like eating three healthy meals a day or getting 30 minutes of exercise three days a week. Set a consistent time aside for physical activity, and schedule meal and snack times. These times should work for your child’s schedule and your own so you can help guide them.
The first step to establishing healthy eating habits is introducing your child to nutritious options. Children tend to fear unfamiliar foods, so try not to overwhelm them by having them try all the new things at once. Consider adding dips and sauces to vegetables while they get used to eating them. At mealtimes, let them eat what everyone else is having. Most importantly, you should allow your child to have treats in moderation. An occasional sugary breakfast cereal or movie theater popcorn won’t hurt them, but feeling like they’re being punished by being deprived of junk food will.
If you want to help your child become active, make it fun. A child won’t do something they don’t enjoy doing. Figure out an activity that brings them joy, and try to get the whole family involved. Choose something age appropriate. For example, preschoolers need play and exercise, and active toys are the best way to hold their attention. Teens, on the other hand, can join team sports, go on bike rides, and do focused exercises like yoga and weight lifting. Whatever you do, don’t overdo it. Encourage your child to slow down if their activity level is hurting them, and consult a doctor if pain or discomfort persists.
Model Healthy Behavior
Even if they don’t admit it, children look up to their parents. If your child sees you enjoying physical activity, they’ll become motivated to do the same. Join them in walking and playing sports. The same idea goes for food. If you don’t buy a lot of treats for the house, your children won’t find them and eat them. Try not to jump between diets; your children will see this as normal adult behavior. Finding consistent, healthy eating habits will show your children what a positive relationship with food looks like. Where you lead, your children will follow.
Healthy habits are as essential to a child’s development as classroom education. At Brevard private schools, we challenge students to be creative and critical thinkers who integrate faith, moral leadership, and compassionate service to make a better world. Through a low student-teacher ratio, classroom technology, and a variety of enrichment activities, we strive to inspire excellence in our students. Contact us to learn more!