As parents, we all want what’s best for our children. The most important gift you can give your child, apart from love, is the gift of health.
Unfortunately, this gift is not one you can wrap up and give to your child the day they are born. Healthy living is learned. What you can give them is the knowledge and tools to learn how to live a healthy life.
So how do you teach your kids to be healthy? Encourage them and follow these guidelines:
- Lead By Example. This is an on-going theme in our posts, but it’s the most important. Kids learn by watching others, mostly you. If you live a healthy lifestyle, they will want to as well. Don’t confuse kids by saying one thing, like, “You need to go outside and play” while you sit on the couch and catch up on your latest Netflix binge show.
- Choose Water. There are so many sugary drinks and sodas on the market specifically targeting your kids. Teach them the importance of good hydration and encourage them to drink lots of water! Add in some fruit, lemon or lime for some extra flavor without all the added sugar. Note: Kids get dehydrated quicker than adults, so make sure they are drinking enough water throughout the day.
- Exercise. Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity EVERY day. Physical fitness helps them build strong bones and the more they exercise, the more likely it will become a lifelong habit. Sign them up for one activity per season as well as something they can do all year long, like Taekwondo. They don’t need to be in an activity every day. The monkey bars at the local park, or playing tag with the neighborhood kids is just as effective.
- Healthy Eating. Introduce your kids to healthy foods such as lean proteins, whole grains and lots of fruits and vegetables. Just remember that younger kids need more fat for energy (they burn more body fat than adults) and more calcium for bone growth. Check out our last post on how to get kids to eat more healthy foods for tips!
- Sleep. Sleep is one of the most overlooked health concerns. Children and adults need adequate sleep for healthy brain development and for children, healthy hormone growth. Make sure your child is getting ample sleep. Signs they may not be getting enough zzz’s include poor grades, memory lapses, moodiness, and lack of alertness. If you feel your child needs sleep, encourage a nap (as much as they resist). Make it a family nap time and everyone can catch up on sleep and wake feeling refreshed and ready to go!
When you incorporate all of the above you establish a healthy lifestyle. Good sleep, nutritious food, ample exercise, and the love and support of your family are keys to teaching your child about being healthy.
TKD Tip: Keep an open mind to the physical activities your child wants to participate in. It’s not important what the activity is, but that they want to do it and will be keeping physically active doing it. So don’t discourage those outside-of-the-box ideas like fencing, ballet or rock climbing.
Parent/Child Activity: Brainstorm with your child ways in which they can “improve” their health. Ask them to write down things they may be doing now that may be considered “unhealthy” and then have them write down a “healthy” alternative to try.