Childhood obesity is a national epidemic affecting over 21 percent of children under the age of 18. While these numbers can be startling, parents should realize taking a little extra time to instill healthy habits in their children early on will benefit them for a lifetime. Here are tips all parents can use to foster a healthy lifestyle in young children.
Make it a Positive Learning Experience
Instead of scolding children for making unhealthy choices, parents should try to make the learning process as positive as possible. This can be accomplished with small acts throughout the day such as praising them for going outside to play or learning a new skill.
Over time, this reinforcement will promote confidence and a positive body image as they become teenagers. Children that stay healthy out of fear of being punished will probably ditch these habits the moment they’re out of the house.
Always Be a Good Role Model
Many parents don’t realize just how many habits their children pick up from them. This includes how they eat and exercise. You might not be perfect when it comes to your own health, but acknowledging fitness is important and constantly attempting to better yourself will eventually rub off on your children. Just as with your children, try not to be too hard on yourself and focus on your progress instead of your setbacks.
Keep Learning New Activities
Carrying out the same few activities day after day will quickly lead to boredom for your child. While they might pick one or two sports to play when they get older, you should make an attempt to expose them to as many activities as possible while they are younger.
Options such as Houston swimming lessons are a great way to boost their confidence and get them moving. Other activities that they might enjoy include long hikes, rock climbing, and dance classes.
Keep Your Meals Colorful
You might not be able to make three healthy meals for your child every single day, but most parents have quite a bit of control over their child’s diet.
This makes it seem like creating a healthy diet is easy, but anyone who has fought with a toddler over eating a certain vegetable knows better. One simple way to make healthy eating more fun is to find foods in as many different colors as possible to brighten up their plate.
Don’t Make Unhealthy Food a Reward
Many of us grew up thinking of unhealthy food as a reward for good behavior. On a subconscious level, our brains will quickly begin to associate food with rewards and find even more pleasure in it.
Having the occasional treat is not going to be a major issue for most children, but parents should try to keep their rewards to non-food items. A few examples of non-food rewards include staying up slightly later to watch a show or taking a trip to their favorite park on the weekend.
Teach Them to Be Mindful of Their Body
At some point, your child’s health is no longer going to be in your hands. This is why it is vital that they learn how to listen to their own body when it comes to exercise and eating. One common mistake is telling a child to finish their plate no matter how full they feel. Even if you feel as if they have not eaten enough, children with access to food will not allow themselves to go hungry.
Healthy lifestyle habits are created early, and this is why all parents should think about what they can do to help their child make good decisions for the rest of their life.
Ani has previously written an informative post on four important healthy habits for children. Click here to read it.