Helping Your Child Form Healthy Habits
Parents play a big part in shaping children's habits on eating and physical activity. When parents eat foods that are lower in fat and added sugars and high in fiber, children learn to like these foods as well. If your child does not like a new food right away, don't be upset. Children often need to see a new food many times before they will try it. Parents have an effect on children's physical activity habits as well. Continue reading to learn about specific actions you can take to help your child develop healthy habits.
Be a role model
A powerful example for your child is to be active yourself. You can set a good example by going for a walk or bike ride instead of watching TV, playing a video game, or surfing the Internet. Playing ball or jumping rope with your children shows them that being active is fun.
Talk about being healthy
Take the time to talk to your children about how a certain food or physical activity may help them. For example, when going for your daily walk, bring your children with you and let them pick the route. Discuss how walking helps you feel better and is a fun way to spend time together. It also offsets calories eaten and inactive time spent in front of TV screens or computers. Use your children's food choices as teaching moments. Speak up when you see unhealthy eating habits. Direct children to healthier options or say, "You can have a little of that, but not too much." Talk to them about why an overly salty or heavily sugared snack is not the best choice. You can also praise your children when they choose a healthy item like fruit or yogurt. Use comments like these:
- "Great choice!"
- "You're giving your body what it needs with that snack!"
- "I like those too."
With physical activity, try upbeat phrases like these to keep your child excited:
- "You run so fast, I can hardly keep up!"
- "You are building a strong, healthy heart!"
- "Let's walk 10 more minutes to make us stronger."
Believe in the power to change
Know that eating healthy and moving more are the basics of being fit. Work together as a family to form healthy habits.