Guest Post by Emily Graham
My friend and colleague Emily and I share many of the same values around making healthy choices for our mind, body, and children in our care, whether they are our own or one of our many students. If you enjoy the following article then you can find more like it at http://mightymoms.net/ Without further delay, read away!
Encouraging children to make healthy choices that will take them into their adulthood fits in with the laundry list of things parents must do. While it’s best if you set the foundation early, it’s never too late to steer kids and teens in the right direction. Natural Tash offers some key elements to practice and preach to ensure your children are living their best lives.
Teach Healthy Eating Practices
While obesity rates in children have declined in recent years, CNN notes recent studies suggest that they’re on the rise with preschool-aged kids between 2 and 5 years old. This is disheartening considering they’re starting their lives in an unhealthy state.
Lifelong eating habits are formed in early childhood, so it’s important that you actually teach healthy practices — you can’t just throw carrot sticks on the table and expect kids to know why they’re good for them. At the same time, focus on the overall diet rather than pinpointing specific foods to prevent encouraging an eating disorder.
Always make sure healthy snacks are available, and get your kids involved in the meal planning, shopping, and cooking processes to create a like-minded bonding experience with them.
Exercise is another activity you can all enjoy together while promoting the importance of physical fitness, and per Huffington Post, statistics show that if a parent is obese, there’s a 50 percent chance the child will be, too.
And you don’t all have to hit the gym to get moving. Rather, focus on activities that feel less like exercise and more like a fun family moment. For example, take a run as a family, walk the dog together, set up a volleyball net in the backyard, and plan an active vacation. Let your kids provide a few suggestions as well. Just make sure to schedule exercise so that your children learn the importance of regularity.
You can also get your kids involved in a local sports league in your area. Sports like soccer, basketball, and tennis are great for staying in shape, and your kids can build self-esteem and meet new friends as well. You’ll want to be sure your kids have the proper footwear and safety equipment before they get started.
Avoiding Substance Abuse Temptation
While getting enough sleep can be a healthy habit to discuss on its own, it’s interesting to note that researchers have found that there is a link between lack of sleep and drug use in kids, all the more reason to encourage shuteye. Ample z’s aside, make sure you are up to speed on what types of drugs are currently “in vogue” with the younger population so you can educate yourself on the warning signs associated with use.
Don’t threaten your kids about drug use, as they’re only apt to rebel. Instead, encourage them to make good choices on who they spend their time with and what activities they take part in by having a heart-to-heart talk void of anger and frustration — and if you have a personal anecdote, honesty is the best policy in this case.
Teaching By Example
The examples of our parents often provide the greatest teaching lessons of life. We often think shelving our goals and dreams to make time for our children is in their best interest, and that’s certainly true to a certain extent, but we also want to model healthy behaviors and show them that they can pursue their dreams. So if that means getting back into shape, taking care of ourselves, or advancing your career by finally going for that MBA, it may be time to make some (flexible) choices, and set a good example for our kids in the process.
Being a healthy influence for your kids can make it easier for them to adopt good habits early on in life. If you slip up (gain some extra weight, drink too much at a holiday party, etc.), have an open conversation with your kids about it. It’s likely that they’ll appreciate your honesty in knowing that nobody is perfect. Encourage them to do the same so that you create an internal support system.
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