How to Teach Your Kiddos Healthy Habits at Home

By Tracy Wright

As parents, we are responsible for our children’s healthy growth and development. We know a main way that children learn is from modeling their parents. So, in what way can parents pass the healthy habits onto their children?

The secret is to START YOUNG. Modeling healthy habits from a young age helps children from developing bad habits for life.

NUTRITION

Practicing healthy eating habits starts at a young age. Many parents focus on feeding their infants and toddlers healthy foods, only to model unhealthy practices later on. What are some of the best ways to ensure good lifelong nutrition?

Eat a nutritious breakfast daily

A healthy breakfast can kick-start our children’s brains, keep them strong and reinforce immunity. In a hurry? Premix smoothies the night before or make ahead breakfasts like fruit parfaits or overnight oatmeal.

Choose water and milk instead of sugared drinks.

It may be difficult for parents to pass on the daily coffee, but try to at least curb the amount of caffeinated or sugary drinks consumed and always say yes to water and milk. For those who think plain water is boring, look to healthy sweeteners to “spice” things up. Creative ingredients like lemon, cucumber, orange or other fruits can make water consumption more delicious. Parents can combine low-fat milk and fat-free chocolate syrup for a better
milk experience.

Moderation is key!

While giving your kids sweet and salty snacks may not be ideal, experts agree that moderation is a good way to keep unhealthy habits at bay. Keep a variety of healthy snacks on hand for your children to snack on— fruit, nuts, veggies and yogurts are good for everyday snacking. But allow your children to have some “treats” like ice cream, candy and chips every once in a while, so they are not likely to fill up on these when they find them as they get older.

GET MOVING!

Make activity a part of your children’s daily routine!

Whether it’s a daily walk, a weekend swim or regular sports activities or dance classes, encourage your kids to be active on a regular basis. Even a “nature walk” to explore the outdoors helps your child boost his or her physical activity. Physical fitness also boosts mental health.

POSITIVE ATTITUDE

Be your child’s cheerleader (and your own!)

Your child will mimic the behavior you choose for your own life. If you are your own harshest critic, your child will learn from your own self-worth. Teaching your kids how to stay positive and deal with problems in a better way could go a long way in helping them live a happy and successful life.

FAMILY TIME

Enjoy regular family time.

Whether it’s family dinners or game nights, research has shown that regular time with the family greatly improves children’s well-being and self-esteem. According to a University of Florida IFAS study, sharing a family meal means that family bonds get stronger, kids are more well- adjusted, kids are less likely to be obese or overweight, and to abuse drugs or alcohol.

KEEP GERMS AT BAY

A healthy household starts with good hygiene habits!

Ensure that your child keeps his or her germs to themselves. Regular hand-washing should be practiced at home, especially after using the bathroom or handling anything dirty or that may contain germs. Your child should wash their hands when they get home from school or public place. When a child has a cough or has to sneeze, the best habit is to sneeze into their elbow. Use tissues when needed and dispose of them once used.