We all want our kids to be healthy – and a big part of succeeding in that goal is to help them create healthy habits that they will carry throughout their lives. Here are a few ways to help foster those habits and encourage healthy behaviours at every age.
Find exercise everywhere.
In our adult lives, many of us spend a full day at the office, leaving little time to spend time with family, take care of the house, and maintain a social life – let alone get the minimum hour of activity we need every day. Teach your kids how to find balance and make activity part of their lives. That might mean a daily trip to the gym – or, it might mean a daily walk as a family after dinner, waking up early to walk the dog in the morning, jumping on the Xbox for a Just Dance tournament, or simply getting up and playing tag; Red Rover; or Simon Says instead of crashing in front of the TV. But beyond conscious activity, there are every-day and around the house ways to move – think raking leaves, mopping floors, taking out garbage. These mundane tasks keep us moving – and are also great motivation to stay active (so we can lift what we need to lift, push those strollers up those hills, and play with those we love).
A few notes about incentives.
Incentives are a great way to get kids to do things – think of all those potty training sticker charts and M&Ms, for example. But there’s a plus and negative to incentives…
On the plus side, we like to reward good behaviour. You likely do it for good grades, completing chores, and any other number of things – why not also start incentivizing healthy habits? Consider reward tracking for consecutive days of healthy eating or activity.
Which leads us to the down side… how we incentivize. Often times, we head for the ice cream shop or with ordering out. There’s nothing wrong with it on occasion, but if it becomes a frequent occurrence, it can lead to replacement bad habits. Consider instead letting someone choose dinner for the night (preferably something healthy), getting to ride in the front seat, or picking the movie for the family movie night.
By all means, use incentives – they’re a great way to get everyone on board and reward good behaviour… and that repetition is how we build habits!
Be a role model.
Your kids are watching you, so be someone you want them to watch. Be active yourself. Take the time to actively play with them. Eat healthy yourself (they know when there are empty ice cream containers). Don’t make negative comments about yourself.