Top tips to establish healthy family habits
You do not need to be a textbook ‘perfect parent’ (there’s no such thing!), but adopting certain habits for your child to follow will help to set them up in life.
A major part of setting up healthy habits for your family includes being a good role model. If your children are being raised in an environment where they are exposed to healthy food choices and regular physical activities, these crucial factors will become a normal part of their lives. Here are our tips to encourage a healthy home life:
Children take great encouragement from being reminded of what they do well and being told ‘thank-you’ for their efforts. Never miss an opportunity to say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ as it will also encourage them to do the same.
Create fun and positivity
Celebrate school achievements to encourage your children to develop a positive self-image. Schedule regular times for the family to get moving together in enjoyable ways, such as establishing a daily habit of taking a walk after family dinner (instead of flopping in front of the TV.) Take bikes to the park, go swimming, book a weekend session at the trampoline park, or even just play hide-and-seek outside. Everyone will benefit from the exercise and the time together.
Start small and build from there
It is important to start a routine of physical activity at a very early age and continue to build up from there. When my nephew was a baby and just able to walk, his mother got him into the habit of holding hands with his sisters and taking a small stroll a few metres up the street, pointing out the cars, colours, insects and trees on the way. Not only did he thoroughly enjoy his mini voyages of discovery, he was nicely tired and ready for bed upon his return. As he got bigger, a few more metres were added to the walk, as well as fun with a football in the park at the weekends. When it came to arranging swimming classes at age five, he enthusiastically associated the activity with fun and achievement. Setting realistic goals and limits are key to adopting any new behaviour. Small steps and gradual changes can make a big difference in your health over time, so start small and build up.
Limit TV & other screen devices
Time sitting around playing with all these devices means your child is sitting still, hunched over a device for hours – the very opposite of what a child should be doing. These habits lead to a sedentary lifestyle and are usually accompanied by excessive snacking. Combining these two habits together in childhood is a sure way to build increased risks for obesity and cardiovascular disease. Two hours a day, several hours before bedtime is more than enough.
Get kids involved in meal prep
Little kids love being asked to help in the kitchen. Try asking your child to choose three things for the salad, or even toss the salad to mix the ingredients, or the salad dressing together. Praise them for making the salad and let them know how delicious it is! Anything that can be mixed together by hand in a big bowl is perfect for your child to get involved. Sit and eat together as a family as much as possible and talk to your children about their day. This encourages a relaxed and enjoyable experience around food for them.