Simple Strategies for Parents Promoting Healthy Habits
Regardless of age or personal circumstances, it’s safe to say that modern life can place a wide range of demands upon youngsters – demands that may stand in the way of good health. As a partner of the Together Counts™ program for healthy, active living, we understand that achieving a beneficial lifestyle requires dedication to healthy routines, and creating an appropriate balance between physical activity, rest, and good nutrition. Establishing the correct balance in early life is particularly important because it is during the childhood years that life-long habits form.
As a parent, you want to promote healthy living in your child, to give them the best possible future. Often, this means not only giving the right instruction to your children, but also practicing what you preach by engaging actively in strategies intended to model favorable behavior. After all, the most important people in a child’s eyes are their parents. The following are just some tips you can use in becoming a robust and positive role model for your children.
1. Set Strict Sleeping Routines
A good night’s sleep is critical for boosting energy levels, positive moods, and levels of physical stamina. Knowing how to help your child get more out of their sleeping schedule can help them form the foundation for a healthier, and more productive lifestyle overall. Chances are you’re not going to want to go to sleep at the exact same time as your children, but try to enforce a bed-time routine that ensures they get enough sleep every night. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that even if you don’t go to bed at the same time, everyone in your house is required to wake up at the same time. For instance, if your children need to be up by 6am to get ready for school, then you do too — regardless of whether you have a day off work and feel like sleeping in.
2. Encourage Group Physical Activity
Parents often find that encouraging exercise from younger children is often easier than broaching the subject with adolescents. As a parent your job is to remind your children — of all ages — that getting active can be fun. Team sports and family games can be a great way to introduce regular physical exercise into a young person’s schedule.
Remember, young people should get at least sixty minutes of exercise each day — including those that get the blood pumping. However, when you’re encouraging physical activity, ensure that you allow children to follow sports and hobbies they enjoy — rather than forcing them to appreciate your own preferences.
3. Don’t Overuse Smartphones and Tablets
While encouraging your child to learn how to use the technology that may be prevalent in the future of society can be helpful, it’s important to ensure that your youngsters don’t spend all day glued to a screen.
The best step for parents is to set daily limits for technology time throughout the house, and monitor them. For instance, suggest restricting computer and video-game time for non-daylight hours before bedtime, rather than during hours where they could be outside and active.
4. Constantly Promote Healthy Eating
According to the USDA, while it may seem your children spend most of their time ignoring your nutritional advice — the food choices you encourage actually do impact the way they view nutrition. Younger children particularly enjoy copying their parents’ behavior, and are likely to mimic your willingness to try new foods and establish certain meal preferences. Do your best to optimize on this mimic behavior by making healthy dietary choices in front of them. This means eating meals and snacks with your child whenever possible so they can witness you enjoying healthy food. At the same time, discourage older children from being negative toward certain foods in front of your other kids.
5. Encouraging a Healthy Lifestyle
When it comes to prompting children toward healthier attitudes and hobbies, the best thing you can do as a parent is adopt those hobbies yourself. By showing your children the positive benefits they can access through better sleep, more physical activity, and a nutritious diet, you ensure they’re more likely to approach their own lifestyle choices sensibly.
For more helpful resources, visit www.sparkpe.org.
For more healthy ideas take a look at these other posts from Together Counts!
- Sports-Based Youth Empowerment
- Born to Run, or at Least Get Moving
- Why Getting a Good Night’s Sleep is Good for Your Brain