How You Can Set Your Kids Up to Make Their Own Healthy Choices
Guest blog by: Stephanie Haywood
As parents, we basically have two options for getting our kids to do the right thing. First, we can simply force them to do it. Or, preferably, we can instill in them the compass to make the best choices on their own. When it comes to living a healthy life, the habits you help your kids form now will serve them for the rest of their lives. Courtesy of The Integrative Pediatrics Wellness Kit, here are some ways to set your kids up for success:
Make home a safe, welcoming place
If you don’t first focus on giving your kids a stress-free home environment where they can thrive, you will have a harder time succeeding in your goal of getting them to make their own healthy choices. Stress begets unhealthy choices — it’s that simple. The first step in doing this involves getting rid of clutter and having a clean home environment. Also take measures to ensure your children feel safe at home. If that means having a disaster safety plan in place, make one together, or if it means installing a security system, there are plenty of options.
If you want your children to make better choices, it’s important for you to lead by example. Let your kids see you choose vegetables over sweets for a snack. Make a point to show them that you floss and brush your teeth every night before bed. Provide them with the opportunity to see you make a mistake and the overture to fix it. While these actions seem small, they plant a seed to show your child the benefits and actions of making a healthier choice.
Get them involved in the kitchen
Very few things are more important to instill in your kids than an understanding of and a desire to eat healthy. One way to do this is to expose them to a variety of foods from a young age — you don’t want to have a child that only likes chicken nuggets. But for them to want to make good food choices, they first need to understand what that really means and how they can literally make healthy food appear. Making cooking a family activity is vital — just be sure to have some kid-friendly kitchen tools and appliances on hand so they can participate. For example, your kindergartener can make her own sandwiches, while your 10-year-old learns to make banana bites from a cooking video (Pro Tip: Use a popsocket to keep your phone in a convenient position and reduce the need for messy fingers to touch the screen). When your kids are active, willingly healthy eaters, it helps them maintain confidence and boosts their overall well-being.
Make exercise fun
If you’ve ever struggled to get enough exercise, you know that part of the reason is that you think of it as a chore — often, a painful one. While kids are relatively young, you can show them that being active is actually fun. That way, they will want to get up and get moving.
One way to make exercise something your kids want to do is to do it with them. By linking exercise with family time, it will create positive associations in their brain. Don’t do boring stuff. Go hiking. Rollerblade. Play basketball. You can find fun ways to exercise almost anywhere.
Work on building the decision-making process
If you don’t let your kid practice making their own decisions, they will never learn how to make good ones. Child psychologists say that you should verbally demonstrate the process that goes into weighing positive and negative options with your children. In essence, walk them through the process of making a choice.
“Describe the pros and cons of each option, compare them with one another, and talk about anything else that will help you reach the decision,” says Parents magazine.
Boost their confidence
When kids are saddled with anxiety and shy away from social situations, it’s easy for them to develop a lack of confidence. This lack of confidence makes it harder to prioritize healthy choices. As a parent, your job is to boost their confidence in a healthy way (read: don’t overdo it — be logical about massaging egos). Boosting self-esteem isn’t hard. It just takes time and dedication.
You’ve heard that teaching a man to fish is more effective than giving him a fish to eat. In the same way, helping your children make their own healthy choices is far better than just forcing your will on them. If you succeed, you’ll be creating kids who will turn into healthy adults.
An essential factor in keeping your child healthy is excellent pediatric information. For more information, check out our Wellness Kit.
Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash