Parents are the most influential role models in a child’s life. Kids speak and act as their parents do. Their value systems come from their mothers and fathers. Consequently, children’s dietary and other lifestyle habits tend to reflect those of their parents. However, that can be a problem for youngsters whose role models don’t exhibit healthful behaviors. Here are a few tips for encouraging your children to follow beneficial personal habits.
Discuss Healthy Eating and Exercise
Make sure your kids understand the difference between a good and bad diet by discussing the benefits of eating right and the consequences of eating junk food. Point out poor nutritional choices but don’t criticize your child or make her feel bad. If she understands why too much salt or sugar is unhealthy, she’s more likely to follow your example. Tell her she can have some cake or a couple of cookies if she’ll also eat some grapes, an orange, or an apple. Praise her for making healthy choices, and explain why eating apples is good for her. It’s also helpful to start your kids on a multivitamin which can strengthen their immune systems. Explain to your children that vitamins contain essential nutrients that can help supplement their diet.
Do as You’d Want Your Kids to Do
Of course, it does little good to talk about avoiding unhealthy foods if your kids see you polishing off a bag of potato chips or having a big piece of pie for breakfast. Those are opportunities to set a good example and explain why your kids shouldn’t overdo it with food and beverages high in sugar and caffeine. Find opportunities to exercise with the kids, even if it just means going for a walk with the family dog after dinner.
If your kids show an interest in sports, support that interest by getting involved yourself. Attend games and help them practice their swing or jump shot, or help them practice passing a soccer ball. Be encouraging; praise your child’s physical abilities. Making your youngster feel good about having athletic ability can encourage her to keep after it and to try different sports.
Anxiety is a widespread problem among school-age children, who deal with academic pressures at school and the need to fit in among their peers. In addition to teaching them stress-coping strategies, consider giving your child CBD as a natural supplement that’s proven effective at helping both adults and children cope with anxiety. Check with your child’s doctor first, and give her CBD in gummy form if taking oil is unpalatable.
Counteract Negative Media Influences
Television commercials, social media, and peer pressure bombard kids every day with negative dietary messages. Television ads portray foods high in fat and drinks full of sugar, making it difficult for children to resist the temptation and make healthy choices. Counteract these influences by explaining that these messages are meant to exploit and entice them to eat foods that are bad for them. Use such exploitative messaging as teaching points, a chance for productive discussions about what’s healthy and what is not.
Bring Healthy Foods Home
Bring fruit, nuts, yogurt, apple sauce, and popcorn home instead of cookies, ice cream and pudding (smoothies made of rice or almond milk and fresh fruit also make a healthy alternative to sweets). Once your kids get used to snacking on healthy items, chances are they’ll learn to like them and choose them over selections with little or no nutritional value.
The long-term consequences of poor dietary habits and a sedentary lifestyle are too dangerous to be ignored. Obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems are familiar manifestations of poor eating and a lack of physical activity. The more you can impress upon your children the need to make healthy choices, the better their chances of avoiding a life of medications, poor health, and doctor’s visits.
Amanda Henderson is a mom to two wonderful, active boys and a preschool teacher. Her hope is that she can combine the knowledge and experience from both to educate others and keep our kiddos safe.