Healthy Habits Parents Can Teach Their Kids During Childhood
Guest writer: Amanda Henderson from the Safe Children Blog
As adults, we understand that eating a pan of brownies is terrible for our health. We also know that sitting on the sofa all day is a detriment to our well-being. Our children don’t know these things yet. It’s our responsibility to teach them. This starts by modeling healthy habits of your own and allowing your children to experience the consequences of not doing so.
At the Tab
Diet is an ever-present battle in most American homes. Kids are picky and will often refuse new foods, especially ones that are not sweet. However, as Cleveland Clinic notes, proper nutrition is essential in childhood development, both for the brain and body. Help your child make better eating choices from an early age by giving them plenty of dietary options. Their plate should have a colorful variety of foods, even if they claim to dislike them. It can take repeated attempts to acclimate their palates to new tastes, so don’t give up. Further, make milk and water the only two drinks available in your home; you and your kids should eat your calories, not drink them.
In the Car
As your kids get older, they will begin watching you as you drive. They will pick up on your habits, such as whether you speed past the rest of the traffic or look at red lights as a recommendation rather than a rule. Even before they get behind the wheel themselves, begin discussing the importance of vehicle safety. Talk to them about wearing their seat belts and the importance of only driving when you are fully awake, aware, and sober. When they obtain their learner’s permit, teach them to drive safer by allowing them time to get used to the road. Ride along with them, even after they’ve earned their full license and limit teenage passengers. School your teen on auto insurance requirements in your state and plan ahead for providing proper coverage for your child. Expect to pay an average annual premium of $160-$200 (based on certain criteria being met), though note that the premium will vary due to a variety of factors.
Socialization and Relationships
An important factor in childhood health is having the ability to make social connections. This does not mean online friends, and no amount of digital interaction can replace face-to-face fun. According to Dr. Gwen Dewar, parents play a critical role in helping children establish their first independent relationships. Help your child understand how to communicate with others politely but assertively. As they mature, let them have time together with the people they choose. Schedule a playdate at the park, or invite their friends over for dinner. When the teen years arrive, these relationships will turn romantic. In an ideal situation, you have already shown what a healthy coupling looks like. However, it remains up to you to encourage your son or daughter to know how to spot a toxic relationship and to have the self-confidence to walk away.
Exercise is not an optional part of your child’s life. They need physical activity to grow strong bones and muscles. Allow them plenty of chances for open play or let them play team sports, which also comes with the benefit of teaching teamwork and healthy competitiveness. Running, jumping, and playing games like dodgeball are all excellent ways to get their bodies moving. Make sure they have access to equipment that encourages active play. This might include a trampoline, swimming pool, or scooter. Remember to take the proper safety precautions, such as wearing a helmet and never leaving children alone in a body of water.
Healthy habits aren’t developed without a little encouragement on your part. Your kids learn by watching you, and they are less likely to listen if you do not follow your own advice. Starting from the time they are born, it’s ultimately your job to be the example they need — and it’s a job that you get to enjoy until they are adults themselves.