All moms want their children to be healthy, regardless if they are newborns or adults. And teaching children healthy habits untimely on is one thing moms can do to assure that they stay always healthy.
One thing I would like to mention is, when we think of the word “health”, taking care of the body is what comes to our mind.
But as we are now beginning to become aware (thanks to the internet and social media), mental health is equally important. Actually, symptoms of mental diseases can also manifest in our body as tiredness, mood swings, dizziness, nausea, etc.
The mind and body have strong interconnection. Thus, let’s try to place importance on the mental health of children as well. Because both, body and mind, should operate hand in hand to make sure that we lead a healthy life.
So, let’s dive in and see some of the greatest healthy habits that parents can teach kids.
1. MAKE SURE THEY EAT RAINBOW FOODS
Doctors and dietitians advise that we “consume the rainbow”. It means, we should eat a diversity of fruits and vegetables to ensure that we get almost all the vitamins and minerals we need.
Normally, we fall into the comfort of repeating our family recipes. There is nothing wrong with that. But assure you add variety to your food by adding seasonal fruits and veggies in their diet in a way that pleases kids, especially the picky eaters.
2. CUT DOWN ON JUNK FOOD
Ensure they understand the phrase, “You are what you eat”.
Healthy eating habits should be learned right from childhood. And they should be learned the difference between healthy and junk food.
It is tough to stop a child from wanting junk foods, but you should not give in every time they throw scenes for ice creams, candies, or packaged fried foods in the grocery store.
They are normally attracted by the color of the packaging and all the freebies offered to lure people into buying. When they are mature enough to read, teach them to read the labels and explain the ill-effects of the ingredients.
Gradually, they will learn to make the right food choices.
Also, try to make eating healthy food exciting by trying new healthy recipes. Healthy food can be delicious if you prepare it appropriately.
And also, you can replace any unhealthy food ingredient with healthier alternatives and give your own spin to the recipe. If you are not into experimenting, you can make use of the tons of recipes accessible online.
To motivate healthy eating in kids, I frequently try to involve them in cooking. Kids will demonstrate more interest in trying new foods if they are implicated in cooking. Also, keep explaining them about how healthy foods are making them stronger and sharper every day. This helps them to be excited about healthy eating.
3. ENCOURAGE ACTIVE LIFESTYLE
Excessive screen time can lead to a sedentary lifestyle in kids. Getting outdoors every day even if it is in your backyard has lots of benefits.
Outdoor play helps in encouraging their creativity, improving social skills, developing their sense of independence, getting vitamin D which is advantageous in improving mood, focus, immunity and preventing obesity.
You can also introduce them to a various sports activities and let them be active in the ones they are interested in.
Making chores a part of kids’ life is also an ideal way to keep them active. It protects them from becoming entitled couch potatoes who expect everything to be handed over to them. It also helps to introduce a sense of responsibility in kids.
4. TEACH GOOD SLEEPING HABITS
Getting sufficient sleep is essential for kids and adults similarly. Proper sleep is needed to operate at your best.
Sleep is particularly essential for kids because poor sleep causes a diminution in the release of growth hormone in kids. It also reduces immunity, causes forgetfulness, deconcentration and focus in studies, anxiety, depression, etc.
So ensure kids get proper sleep during the weekdays and weekends as well.
Going to sleep late during the weekends can ruin their sleep planning causing “sleep debt”. So it is always healthier to go to sleep and wake up at the same time even on the weekends.
I try to put my kids to sleep nearly at the same time every night. So they argue “But tomorrow is Sunday!!!”. I do not realize why we normally may not sleep untimely when there is no classe tomorrow.
The people who don’t go to school don’t sleep on time?
All I recognize is my kids wake up early when they sleep on time (which is a perfect habit) they become are active and energetic from the next second onwards. They don’t feel sleepy because they got a good night’s sleep. And as a mother, it is easily for me too because I don’t have to deal with the attitude issues that come with grumpiness.
And not to mention I don’t have to deal with their sleep debt which gets extended to the weekdays. I change this planning only when we have guests at home. Then they get to savor their playtime with cousins and friends.
Am I venting? Perhaps, a little. Sorry, I needed to put it out there Onto the next point.
5. TEACH PERSONAL HYGIENE
Teaching personal sanitary is an important aspect of raising healthy kids who are independent enough to take care of themselves.
Healthy personal hygiene habits include:
* Brushing and flossing
* Washing hands before and after eating food and after outside play
* Daily showers
* Rinsing hands with soap after going to the toilet
* Covering mouth while sneezing or coughing
6. KEEPING HOME AND SURROUNDINGS CLEAN
Children may do their part in keeping their living space clean and tidy.
Motivate kids to always keep their room clean by putting their belongings in their place after use, making bed daily, putting litter in the waste bin, cleaning bathroom etc.
To get these tasks accomplished and make it a habit for kids, assign these as part of their daily chores. You can help them to do these every day by making a chore checklist and giving instructions on how and when to do them.
The earlier you begin with these habits, the better.
7. THERE ARE NO BAD EMOTIONS
If you want to raise kids who are emotionally healthy, teach them to accept all kinds of emotions that they feel.
One of the reasons I like positive parenting is the “embracing kids as humans” part. So frequently we don’t let kids express their emotions when we ourselves have them.
Kids are not permitted to cry because “crying is bad”. They are not allowed to get angry because it is rude. Sure there are acceptable and unacceptable manners of expressing emotions.
And it’s a parent’s responsibility to teach emotional regulation to kids.
For example, anger can be released in healthy manners like journaling, taking deep breaths, walking away from the situation, etc.
Crying should be met with empathy. Do not disregard their feelings by saying “Don’t cry for such silly things”, or “Only bad girls cry”, or “Boys don’t cry”, etc.
Instead, you may teach them that, “Crying is healthy when you feel sad”, or “Getting angry is okay, but always yelling at others is not”, etc.
When it comes to emotions, teach them healthy ways to express it and not be awful of having any emotions. They have a right to their emotions – we all do.
8. TEACH GRATITUDE
Why is gratitude a healthy habit?
I always try hard to teach gratitude to kids because after I started practicing gratitude deliberately in my adulthood, I began to benefit from it immensely.
Gratitude is essential because of the way the human mind works. We always try for more, and even though it helps us to grow, we can be forgetful of the blessings we already have.
Deficiency of gratitude for what we already have leads to unhappiness, stress, depression, anxiety, and other physical diseases as well.
Gratitude also helps to reduce materialism and jealousy. It is difficult as a parent to satisfy children by keeping up with their constant demands to buy new stuff that their friends have. Thus, gratitude is a must-have habit for kids (and of course for adults too).
Gratitude also helps to develop a positive mindset and teach kids to be resilient in hard times.
9. BOREDOM IS GOOD
The kids today don’t have time to breathe because their daily planning is filled out with school, sports, tuition, and other extracurricular activities.
They don’t have time to get bored and even if they complain of ennui parents feel the need to entertain them.
Parents don’t need to be the entertainers because eventually the kid should learn to entertain himself.
Studies show that ennui sparks creativity. When we are bored, our minds begin to think of possible activities that could entertain us and sometimes new ideas enter our minds randomly.
When my daughters complain of ennui, most of the time I just acknowledge their feelings and not do anything about it. And the next minute they can be seen being involved in writing a story or creating a new play together.
I once asked my daughter make a list of activities that she would like to do when she is bored. Now when she complains of ennui, I make her look across the list to help her entertain herself.
Being uninterested also helps them to think and develop their own perspectives on life, which in turn helps them in character formation.
Hence downtime is not only normal but essential.
10. MAKE SURE THEY STAY HYDRATED
Everyone knows the importance of drinking water. Drinking sufficient water allows kids to stay energetic, prevent constipation and urinary infection, improve digestion, etc.
Motivate kids to drink more water by creating a water tracker and let them fill it every day.
Also, make it a habit to always have water on hand in bottles and motivate them to take the bottles everywhere they go.
11. ENCOURAGE WALKING
Encourage walking short distances instead of using a vehicle. It helps to promote physical activity and improve the child’s fitness levels.
In Japan, kids at 6 or 7 years of can be seen riding the subway alone and walk to school. Walking is a vital part of their culture and unnecessary to say, it helps in keeping their fitness levels high.
Parents frequently have fears around letting children walk alone to school, even if the school is within walking distance. If you cannot do that, you can motivate kids to walk with you when you go to nearby places like a grocery store or a park.
I found this instructive article online about how kids benefit physically and mentally by walking to school.
12. RAISE A READER
Reading makes your child smarter. Reading helps them to ameliorate their vocabulary and build language skills.
It introduces them to new perspectives and takes them to new places. It helps to ameliorate their creativity and it is also advantageous in their overall well-being.
To help children form a reading habit, the younger you begin, the better. Buy them age-adequate books and read to them. For young kids, reading anecdotes is also a great opportunity to establish connection.