Sometimes I feel like a broken record. Encouraging my kids to make good choices and develop healthy habits sounds simple, but often they don’t listen to my repeated “requests”. I think most parents of teens and tweens would agree that there’s a fine line between nagging and gently encouraging. Let’s face it, kids are exhausted from being bombarded with demands from school, home, and extracurricular activities. It’s a lot for them to handle! Now throw in the constant reminders about creating healthy habits and that could cause a rebellion.
It’s time for a new strategy to encourage my kids to form healthy habits.
Rather than continuing with my repeated requests I’m going to say very little. It’s time to lead by example and here’s the plan.
Be a good role model
Kids, regardless of their age, are watching everything we do. Well maybe not everything, but they are aware on some level and take note of our actions and behaviors. As parents, we hope that our children have strong role models in their life who possess qualities that encourage them to become better people. If we want them to develop good habits it’s our job to show them the way.
A workout every morning has been part of my routine for many years and I’m hoping to instill this habit in my kids. Any sort of movement jump-starts your metabolism and gives you an energy boost throughout the day. Encouraging kids to find a form of exercise that they love is the key to forming habits that will last a lifetime.
Spend time outside
With all the technological distractions in life, it’s so important to find a way to spend time outdoors with your family. Studies have shown that children who play and explore outdoors are less stressed and happier and healthier.
It’s harder and harder to encourage kids to get enough sleep as they get older. The increasing demands of school and extra-curricular activities take up much of their free time, leaving less time for rest. It’s important to teach school-aged children about the importance of sleep and having a consistent bedtime schedule. I know it’s not easy to keep screens out of their room during the night, but encouraging a screen free bedroom helps establish healthy habits throughout life.
Eat well and drink plenty of water
Cooking is a big part of our family life. Over the years our kids have become active participants in our kitchen. We also belong to a CSA so they can see where their food comes from. I’ve found that if my kids cook they’re more likely to eat the food and hopefully love it. If you want to make healthy eating and snacking a priority choose organic, whole-grain foods when you can. Stonyfield yogurt is our go-to snack! Individual packaging makes it so simple to bring a few along when you’re out for the day. Incorparate water into your daily rountine by pouring a glass of water (or your beverage of choice without sugar!) with every meal.
Brush your teeth and floss
Brushing your teeth with a safe toothpaste is an important habit to form early on. Our favorite is Tom’s of Maine Silly Strawberry. Many of us were taught to brush our teeth without flossing, but that’s like cleaning 70% of your body. It’s quite simple: if you have teeth you should floss. Flossing your teeth every day is a simple way to extend your life and improve your gum health. Seek out a floss that doesn’t contain Teflon. HERE are a few safe alternatives.
Limit screen time
As we all know, screens are everywhere. Children are exposed to screens at an early age and continue to be exposed throughout their childhood. Establishing firm guidelines and places for screen free locations throughout your home, such as bedrooms, will help your children develop healthy screen habits throughout life.
What healthy habits do you hope to pass on to your children?