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Healthy choices can be difficult for kids to make all the time. Whether it’s in regard to their diet or the amount of exercise they get, it can be hard for them to make good decisions, especially when they’re tired or off their usual schedule. However, helping your child learn to make the right choices for their minds and bodies will allow them to take those lessons into adulthood. Sometimes, it’s the little things we do now that echo well into the future. As TrueFatherhood.org notes, that starts when you childproof your home when your child is small. When they’re older, having learned about those healthy boundaries when they were small will pay off as they face harder decisions, such as whether to use drugs and alcohol.
It’s a good idea to think about how your child can stay healthy outside of diet and exercise, as well. Mental health is just as important as the physical, and everything from a cluttered home to a lack of good sleep can contribute to it. By helping your little one stick to a routine, you’ll be teaching her about the value of self-care, and that lesson can stick with her for years to come.
Here are a few things to think about when you want to help your child make healthy choices.
Help Her Get Involved in a Sport
Sports aren’t just a great way to help your child stay fit and active; in fact, they can also promote teamwork and social skills. It’s important for parents to get involved when their child is going out for an extracurricular activity, as this helps to boost their confidence. One of the best ways to do this in the beginning is to take your child shopping for all the things she needs to be successful. The right gear can help ensure she’s safe and able to keep up with her teammates during practice and games.
Set a Healthy Eating Example
When you can show your child how to eat healthy by doing it yourself, you’re
setting an example that will help her feel good about her choices because she’ll have support. Look online for healthy meal ideas; there are countless recipes that will fit any budget. If you’re short on time, try to find meal prep ideas that you can put together on Sunday night and freeze for the week. You might also consider trying a meal delivery service like Blue Apron.
Regardless of your meal prep strategy, get your child involved in the shopping and cooking. This way, not only does she learn how to make healthy things for herself, but she’ll also feel better about what she’s eating and will be more open to trying new things.
Create a Schedule She Can Stick To
Kids need lots of rest, but they often stay up too late or ingest too much caffeine and can’t get to sleep at a decent hour. When this happens, their mood and mental health can decline, so help your child find a regular rest routine she can stick to. Have her take a hot shower before bed, restrict the use of smartphones or computers at night, and make sure she sticks with water or milk after dinner to keep caffeine out of the equation. The more you can enforce this schedule, the easier it will be for her to stay motivated to keep it.
Talk About Hard Decisions
Many parents dread having hard conversations with their kids about drugs, alcohol, and peer pressure, but it’s important to do so, even while they’re still young. This is because keeping communication open about those difficult topics will help your child feel comfortable about coming to you down the road when they’re faced with making choices.
Brush Off Those Old Dreams
Parenting often means setting aside pursuits, hobbies, maybe even career plans, to care for a growing family. It may mean fitness goals getting set aside as the bicycle you once loved to ride gathers dust in the garage or staying in a job you hate because it pays well and has good benefits. But your kids will learn the structure of a happy life from you. So, as your kids get older, seize on opportunities to show them how to nurture their happiness when life gets in the way. That may mean carving out a little extra time to pick some of those old pursuits back up again. For example, that may mean getting back on your bike and joining a cycling club or for pursuit of more rewarding job choices, heading “back” to school for an online business degree!
Healthy choices for kids will vary according to age and needs, but you know what will work for your child better than anyone. Talk about your own experiences and help your child feel safe in coming to you when she needs guidance; this is the best way to help her stay on a healthy path.
Article by Jenna Sherman