By Jennifer Scott
Parents play a significant role in shaping their children’s habits. Whether your child is 5 or 15, they’re taking cues from you as they develop and grow. There are plenty of things parents can do to encourage children to make healthy choices, all the way from childhood and into their teenage years. If you’re looking for ways to encourage healthy habits in your child, this article from MannaEXPRESS is for you!
Treat Anxiety and Depression
Mental health problems can affect people of any age, and children are no exception. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10.3% of children have a diagnosis of anxiety or depression. Unfortunately, these mental conditions often occur together, and increase the chance that a child will also experience behavioral problems.
Parents can help their children maintain good mental health by being gentle and understanding. Avoid punishing children for their mistakes. Instead, praise their achievements—no matter how small. If your child is encountering a stressful period of their life, try to remain calm around them and be a little more flexible with your expectations.
Keep Junk Food Out of the House
It’s no secret that kids will snack on whatever is available. Encourage your children to eat healthy by limiting junk food in your house. You may not want to restrict their access to junk food completely—according to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, this can make them want it more. Allow treats occasionally, but provide easy access to healthy alternatives, like veggies with hummus or apples with nut butter. Make sure the snacks you buy work with their dietary needs (e.g., gluten free, diabetic-friendly, etc.).
Teach Your Child to Cook
Another way to encourage a healthy diet is to get your child involved in cooking. Kids develop a connection with their food when they’re involved in preparing it. This encourages them to try new foods and appreciate the healthy items that end up on the table. Plus, cooking is a valuable skill that will benefit your child for the rest of their life. Research shows that kids who learn how to cook tend to eat healthier a whole decade later!
Talk to Your Child About Caffeine
Unhealthy food isn’t the only thing you need to watch out for. Caffeinated beverages can also spell trouble for kids. According to Verywell Health, teens who consume too much caffeine can suffer from insomnia, irritability, headaches, problems concentrating, and strain on the circulatory system. Even small amounts of caffeine can negatively affect sleep among teenagers. To help your child cut back on caffeine, keep soda and energy drinks out of the fridge, encourage them to drink herbal teas, and try to cut back on your own coffee habit!
Use Exercise as Transportation
When it comes to physical activity, kids and teens need more than adults. Ensure that your child is getting at least one full hour of exercise every day. Aerobic activity—brisk walking, running, swimming, and biking—should make up a large portion of this time. Using exercise as a form of transportation is a great way to get kids moving. Whenever you need to go somewhere within walking distance, go on foot! Walk to school, the grocery store, or to a friend’s house for a playdate. If you live in a rural area where walking to stores isn’t realistic, make walking an activity in itself. Walking with your children is a great opportunity to bond, encourage an appreciation of nature, and let your children explore.
As you encourage your children to make healthy choices, pay attention to your own lifestyle. Children tend to copy their parents, so if you’re relying on caffeine to get going in the morning or forgoing exercise to watch TV, you may be giving your child the wrong idea. Treat parenthood as an opportunity to pursue healthy habits yourself!
Jennifer Scott is writes on different mental health topics. Check out her blog at www.spiritfinder.org.