As a parent, one of your primary goals is to keep your kids healthy. You spend hours sanitizing baby gear when children are first born and years afterwards teaching them to practice good hygiene and take care of themselves. Keeping your kids from getting sick is just one way you keep them healthy. You also need to focus on physical, mental and emotional well-being to raise truly healthy kids.
Solidify healthy eating habits
Your kids’ eating habits are set in their early years. The way kids choose to eat as adults will be profoundly impacted by what you’re teaching them now. Offer a wide range of fruits and vegetables to your kids. When they want a snack, instead of turning to crackers and other carbs, offer them a handful of berries, dried apricots or protein-packed nuts.
Family meals also encourage healthy eating habits. Sit down as a family to eat together whenever possible and plan meals to incorporate all major food groups. As soon as they are old enough, involve your children in the meal prep. They will learn a little more about where their food comes from and what it takes to make healthy meals on their own someday.
Remember, your kids will mirror your own attitudes about food. Be a positive role model and practice what you preach. You can help your children grow into adults with a healthy view of food.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 60 minutes of physical activity every day for kids and adolescents. The best way to teach your kids to be active is to show them how much fun it is. Being active doesn’t mean you have to join an official sports team or even have a kid who loves sports. Take the kids outside when the weather is nice and engage them in a game of tag or basketball. If you’re active, your children will be more inclined to join in the fun.
One way to ensure your entire family can be active no matter what the weather is to set up a small home gym. An elliptical or treadmill provides a simple way to be active while stuck indoors. Encourage healthy activity and responsibility by teaching older children and adolescents how to use the machines properly.
Teach the love of learning
A healthy mind is part of a healthy life. Teach your kids how important learning is. While educational television programs may have their place, turning off the TV and reading a book together or taking a trip to the library or museum is a far better way to teach your children. You can even make the outing more appealing by making the trip a reward for good behavior or help around the house. If your children view it as a treat, it will be considered even more valuable in their minds.
Teach healthy emotions
True health is physical, mental and emotional. Teach your children how to deal with their emotions in positive, healthy ways. Start with labeling emotions and guide your children towards appropriate responses to how they’re feeling. Model these responses in your own life to raise children who are emotionally healthy.
If you focus on your child’s physical, mental and emotional health, you can make tremendous strides in raising a happy, healthy adult. Learning begins long before your child starts talking, so get started early. Your efforts will be well worthwhile when you send a well-adjusted, healthy young person out into the world.
Holly is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys blogging on behalf of Sears and other reputable brands. She enjoys running in marathons, doing yoga, watching horror movies and baking healthy treats for her kids.
Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture (http://flickr.com/photos/41284017@N08/6302415633).