Kids are like sponges. They absorb information and habits by observing the world around them. Sometimes this is frustrating, like when sweet little Johnny repeats to his kindergarten class the lovely word you let slip out when you slammed the door on your finger. Luckily, you can take advantage of this impressionable age and use it to your advantage, and theirs. If you expose them now to the habits that lead to a healthy lifestyle, they will reap the rewards of it for the rest of their lives. Here are five health- conscious habits to set your children up for success.
Feed Them More Fruits and Vegetables
Everyone knows that kids usually pass on the salad and love pizza, macaroni and cheese and Kool-Aid. If left to their own devices, kid’s diets won’t stray far from this menu, but you know that a picky selection of carbs and cheese won’t give your children all the nutrients they need for strong bodies.
Try introducing them to a variety of produce to see what piques their interest. Expose them to the “rainbow of colors” available in fruits and vegetables. Bring your children to the grocery store with you and allow them to select produce that looks intriguing to them. If they have a hankering for dragon fruit, give it a go and get them excited about what’s available to them.
Some kids will resist even the most creative of efforts to help them eat wisely. At this point, it’s time to get sneaky. Kids love milk shakes, so whip them up a banana, cocoa powder and almond milk smoothie. Don’t forget to throw in a scoop of greens powder to really up the nutrition level. They will never know the difference!
Increase Your Family’s Water Intake
It’s easy to forget to stop and drink water when you’re busy playing all day, but water is essential to your children’s health. Toddlers need 2 to 4 cups a day, 4–6-year-olds need 5 to 6 cups, and tweens need 7 to 8. Try buying cool water bottles that will keep them coming back for a drink all throughout the day. You could even set a family goal for water consumption and when you hit that goal, splurge for a trip to the water park or museum.
Get Out and Move Together
Exercise is always more fun when you do it with someone else. Mix it up and integrate movement into your family’s daily life. Avoid making it feel like a chore. When the weather is nice, make a goal to hit a different park every week, take a family bike ride or follow a local nature trail. Kids naturally have a ton of energy, and they are dying to get it out.
Limit Screen Time
The average American kid spends over seven hours a day on screen time, but the recommendation from the American Heart Association is to limit it to two hours a day. It’s only an hour if they’re under 5. There are many activities that can fill a child’s time. Check out some new books at the library, create an art project together or go geo-caching for the first time. This can be a hard goal, especially if you are in the habit of using screens as a babysitter, but the investment pays dividends for a lifetime.
Exercise a Positive Attitude
There is more to your children’s health than their physical bodies. Their mental and emotional health begin at home as well. The tone of your home sets the stage for a positive mental state for everyone in it. Do your kids a giant favor and keep your words and reactions upbeat. They will learn to follow suit and you will be surprised how it changes your own outlook on hiccups in your day.
Making goals is always more fun when you have someone along for the ride to do it with you. Reset and reboot this spring and make the choice to adopt healthy habits together as a family. You will never regret investing in your children’s future.