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When you have kids, it is your responsibility to teach them habits that will help them live their healthiest life. Things like finding the fun in exercise, making healthy food choices, and spending time with the right kinds of people are all values that we can instill that will have a positive lifelong impact. Learn more about teaching your children how to develop healthy habits.
Exercise is essential for all ages, but it doesn’t always have to come in the form of a regimented program. Some children can burn calories and keep themselves healthy while engaging in outdoor learning opportunities. Hiking, exploring, and swimming are all great ways to spend time together as a family while staying fit. Even children geared more toward intellectual endeavors can join in on the fun. Take astronomy, for example, you and your kids can walk around at night looking for stars and constellations, which you can then identify with a smartphone app. This is a win/win: exercise and education. Just be sure to carry around a wireless charger to keep your phone powered up. And remember, the trick with exercise is to cater the activities to your children’s interests. When they look at it as fun, it won’t feel like such a chore.
Young children naturally gravitate toward sweet foods. From a scientific standpoint, this makes perfect sense. A child’s predisposition to shun bitterness is a biological function that helps them avoid toxic substances and ensure they prefer their mothers’ milk. However, a lingering love of sweets can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
To encourage children to eat healthy, model this behavior yourself. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. Perhaps most importantly, get your kids in the kitchen to help you prepare food. When kids have some control over what they eat, they are more likely to experiment with wholesome ingredients and to try new things.
Children, especially adolescents and teenagers, want to fit into the crowd. But, as we all remember, finding the right group of friends can be terribly confusing and challenging. Talk to your children early about spotting toxic friendships. If they cringe when they receive a text message or don’t like being around a friend or group of friends, it’s time to find a new peer group. Women’s Health also points out that knowing that someone is talking behind your back and having a realization that a friend’s advice is always bad advice are other signs to move on.
Raising assertive children – the kind that will stand up for themselves even against their friends – starts by talking about the different styles of communication: assertive, aggressive, and passive. You also want to teach them about boundaries and model confidence in your own adult relationships. This might mean cutting your high school best friend out or even leaving an unhealthy romantic relationship. A key point here is that children mimic what they see.
There are so many moving pieces to the puzzle that is childhood. It would be impossible to cover them all in a single blog post. But, those listed above – eating well, exercising, and choosing the right friends – are a great start to a solid foundation. Remember, teaching your children healthy habits starts with you and it starts today.