Healthy Habits Start Young
Children are influenced by everything in their surroundings with habits beginning to form as early as age nine. This makes it important to start young when teaching them the habits you want to last a lifetime. The earlier the better when it comes to healthy habits!
Don’t Wait, Start “Now”
Take advantage of your child’s formative years, helping them develop important habits they’ll continue into adulthood. Don’t postpone this parental duty until you feel like your child can understand what you’re talking about — they pick up and effectively process far more than you realize.
For instance, let’s look at washing hands. This easy habit can be made fun to do and you can lead by example, emphasizing how you wash your hands because you know it’s important.
Reinforce the habit by reminding your children why you’re doing so every time you wash your hands. Invite them to join you, and sing a song together to ensure you’ve washed your hands long enough. This associates emotional connection and fond memories with clean hands.
As your child grows old enough to understand, you can add more details for why and when they must wash their hands, such as before meals, after sneezing, after being outdoors and after using the bathroom.
As adults, it’s not easy to always make the right decision. Imagine how difficult it must be for a child to make tough choices! Like choosing a healthful snack over sugary treats. Helping children learn to make the right choice at an early age will help them make good decisions as they age, when consequences can be so much more life changing.
Teach children about healthy eating habits and how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in their diet. Engaging your children in the preparation of family dinners is a great way to turn dinnertime into a bonding experience. Stay age-appropriate, adding more complexity over time.
Make healthy snacks easily accessible for kids. Pre-sliced vegetables and fruit in snack-sized containers make healthy eating more convenient and appealing and allow kids to help themselves to the healthy treat.
There are also many children’s books available that can teach about healthy eating habits, and visiting the library to find these books together can be an adventure.
Breaking Bad Habits is Difficult
It’s not you! Bad habits are insanely difficult to break. This is because when we form and repeat habits, the chemical dopamine is released to the brain, causing a feeling of pleasure that encourages a strengthening of the habit. Since nature doesn’t differentiate between good and bad habits, it is important to encourage healthy ones.
Make it easy for your child to form healthy habits. Make healthy treats easily available. Enroll them in weekly activities and athletic programs. Encourage a regular enjoyment of playtime outdoors.
Whatever the habit, the key is to make it easy to adopt and continue.
GOOD HABIT CHECKLIST
Healthy Nutrition & Cooking
Enjoyment of an Active Lifestyle
Pursuit of Hobbies & Interests
Learning & Development