7 Tips For Teaching Children Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Children learn from what they see and hear. If you want them to develop healthy lifestyle habits, you’ll need to give them the tips to do so.


by Troop Atomic Mommy

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As adults, it’s our job to teach the kids in our lives as much as we can about staying fit and healthy so they can live as long and as happily as possible. Children learn from what they see and hear, so if we teach them healthy habits when they are young, we will be setting them up for a good, full life. How do we do this? We can show them how to make better decisions about their health and why those choices are the right ones. Here are some more ways to teach kids how to live in a healthy way.

Eat Together 

Try eating together at least once a day if you can. It can be difficult because everyone is so busy, but if you keep at it, you will get into a regimen that will be good for everyone. When you eat with your kids, they can see that you are setting a good example for them and yourself by eating well. They can compare what a healthy portion size for an adult looks like to what it looks like for a child.

If you can get your kids to help you prepare and cook the meal, that’s even better because they’ll know a lot more about the healthy ingredients you’re using. If there is something that could be considered “bad” for you, like a little butter, sugar, or salt, explain why it is there and how they can swap bad ingredients for healthier options.

Eating together also makes your child think of food in a good, happy way. When they are older, they will know that eating well is good because it keeps them healthy and reminds them of good times from their childhood.

Go Outside 

Choosing to spend time outside instead of inside is another healthy habit that you should teach your kids. Get outside and play games in your yard if you have one. They could be sports games like soccer or football, or they could be games like tag or hide-and-seek. If games are not up your alley, you can plant fruits and vegetables together, and teach them how to care and harvest them.

You don’t need any special gear to spend time outside with your kids. All you need is a place for them to run around. If you don’t have enough room in your own yard, look for a public field or play area where you can bring your children to play. Even when it’s cold and rainy, getting your child outside as much as possible can make a big difference in their health and how they see the world. Making exercise into a game makes it more fun, and this is a good habit to start as soon as possible.

Switch Off The Screens

Everywhere you go, you can find some kind of technology, like smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even TVs, that have many new features built-in. These tech items make it easy to get hooked on, but it’s best to stay away from them as much as possible. If your child sees you always looking at your phone, they will want to do the same. This means they won’t exercise as much and won’t be able to focus well at school.

Set a time limit for any technology used in the home and make sure it is followed. You will need to do the same because if your child sees you “cheating,” they will be disappointed in you and want to use their own technology (at which point you won’t be able to say no).

Of course, going online for homework is a different story, but you will still need to keep an eye on your child to make sure he or she is only looking at homework. It’s easy to get distracted and end up playing a game or looking at social networks. If and when you must use screens, use them to your child’s advantage. For example, you can use the internet to show your kids why their health is so important.

Be Supportive 

It is important to be a supportive parent, talk to your kids in a positive way, and encourage them to make good decisions. Your kids will want to please you and will go out of their way to demonstrate to you that they are absorbing the information you teach them. When your child does something good for their health, make sure to praise them. This will encourage them to continue making healthy choices.

As an additional benefit, the more supportive you are as a parent, the less likely your child will act out negatively. This will make both of you a lot happier and healthier in the long run.

Look Into Extracurricular Activities 

Children’s social development can be greatly helped by participating in extracurricular activities such as children’s gymnastics classes, where they can interact with a wide variety of people and learn new skills. The kids can feel safe to explore what it means to live a healthy, fulfilling life, and adults can see the new skills their children have acquired. It’s likely that they’ll pick up some more healthy habits from the people they meet. Be sure to listen to your kids if they suggest non-traditional approaches to maintaining a healthy lifestyle; just because you didn’t teach them doesn’t mean it’s not a good suggestion.

Help Them To Be Responsible 

Guaranteeing your children’s future success can be as simple as allowing them more autonomy in making their own healthy lifestyle choices. Learning to be responsible is crucial because it sets kids up for success later in life and in their careers. By letting your child take (at least some) charge of their health, you will be teaching them responsibility and showing that you value their opinion. Your child will be more proactive about making healthy decisions if they are allowed to plan their own snacks or lunches at school or if they are allowed to choose (and perhaps even make) the breakfast for the whole family once a week or more.

Teach Them Food Is Not A Reward

Many parents fall into the trap of using food as a reward for good behavior. Even though it comes from a place of goodwill, this is ultimately a bad idea. Because today’s kids are less active than previous generations, encouraging them to eat in this way might have serious negative consequences for their long-term health.

Daily food rewards are what cause the most trouble. If you give a child a cookie today for being good, what will you give them the next time they behave the same way? They’ll likely want another cookie, and maybe they’ll get one. If the parent can’t think of other rewards, this can go on forever.

If you want to give your child a reward for being good, it’s best to come up with a points system. When they do something good, they get a point, and when they reach 10 (or any other number you choose), you can give them something other than food. This makes kids work harder because they have to wait longer for their reward.

The Takeaway

Children learn from what they see and hear. If you want them to develop healthy lifestyle habits, you’ll need to give them the tips to do so. Hopefully, some of the tips above will help you and them get started!