Posted by Dan Cromar on 5/20/2015 to
Children are naturally curious, energetic and care-free, and while these things can benefit them greatly throughout their development, they also open up your children to problems.
Kids aren't born knowing what's best for themselves. They have to learn, for instance, that washing their hands is necessary to keep themselves and others from getting sick. As their parent, it's up to you to provide this guidance.
However, children tend to learn new habits best when they're framed in a positive light. Rather than simply telling your children to adopt healthier habits, here are some things you can do to make them want to.
Teach By Example
Kids typically want to emulate the adult role models in their lives, and because they spend the most time around you, your own habits have a huge impact on which ones they develop.
Be sure to use the time you spend with your kids to set good examples. Let them see you practicing healthy habits yourself like smart hand-washing, healthy food choices, exercise and engaging in activities that stimulate the mind, such as reading.
Because they look up to you, they're more likely to think these things are fun or "cool". Be sure to show them that you approve since it will reinforce the positivity of these behaviors.
Make It Fun
Kids thrive on fun, and most seem to learn best when lessons are enjoyable and entertaining. When it comes to teaching healthy habits, you can use their natural love of fun to your advantage.
For example, if your child shuns fresh veggies, try giving them a small garden plot to tend. Here, they can grow whatever veggies, herbs or fruits they'd like.
Most kids are thrilled by watching the plants grow and develop under their care, and they become much more receptive to eating the results of their labor.
Indeed, if you ask many adults, there are plenty whose first positive experience with a vegetable was eating one they'd grown themselves.
To top it all off, gardening provides kids with a great opportunity to get some exercise in an enjoyable format.
Don't Deprive Them
The news is bombarded with sensationalistic reports on the epidemic of childhood obesity, and in fearful response, more and more parents are banning sugar and processed foods from their households.
While it seems like a wise decision at first glance, it often backfires. Unfortunately, trying to completely forbid kids from eating sugary or processed foods usually just ensures that they develop unhealthy emotions and attitudes toward these things in the future.
Some experts suggest that this is a lesson kids are better off learning on their own. If they eat candy too much, they'll realize that it doesn't make them feel very good. At this point, many children start wanting real food.
This is believed to be the body's normal, healthy response to not only nutrient depletion caused by the sugar but also the fact that it supplied no additional nutrients to make up for what it took away.
Many parents who try this find that their children learn to self-limit their intake of junk food while maintaining a general preference for healthier foods.