It's never too early to teach kids about living healthy and happy lives. In truth, what children learn in the formative years will shape their habits and attitudes towards wellness later in life.
As parents, we are responsible for teaching and encouraging these healthy habits in our kids. Don't be the type of parent that allows their kids to eat whatever they want or stay up all night playing video games. Those habits will only lead to an unhealthy lifestyle down the road.
Instead, focus on instilling these important wellness habits in your kids and watch them grow into healthy and happy adults.
Eat Healthy Meals
One of the most crucial wellness habits for kids is learning to eat healthy meals. This lesson doesn't mean you have to force them to eat broccoli at every meal, but rather that you should encourage them to eat various healthy foods.
Ensure they get plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. In time, they would begin to crave these healthy foods. Also, limit their intake of sugary drinks and unhealthy snacks.
Encourage them to try new foods and get them involved in meal planning and preparation. The more involved they are in the process, the more likely they will eat what's in front of them.
Another essential wellness habit for kids is to get enough physical activity daily. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kids should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
There are many ways to ensure your kids are getting enough exercise. Take them for walks or bike rides, play catch in the backyard, sign them up for a sports team, or get an indoor exercise machine.
Also, encourage them to be active even when they're not playing a structured sport. They can jump on the trampoline, play tag, or dance around the living room.
The important thing is that they're moving their bodies and getting their heart rates up.
Get Enough Sleep
Another vital wellness habit for kids is to get enough sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, kids between 6 and 13 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night.
However, many kids don't get nearly that much. Make sure your kids are going to bed at a reasonable time and that they're not staying up late to play video games or watch TV.
Also, create a bedtime routine that includes winding down for 30 minutes before lights out. This routine can involve reading a book, taking a bath, or doing light stretching.
The goal is to help them relax so they can fall asleep more easily.
Practice Good Hygiene
Another wellness habit for kids is to practice good hygiene. It includes brushing their teeth twice daily, washing their hands after using the restroom and before eating, and bathing regularly.
Teach them how to wash their hands properly and why they need to do this. And make sure they're using soap and water that's clean and not contaminated.
Also, teach them the importance of covering their mouths when they sneeze or cough and properly disposing of used tissues.
Finally, ensure they know to avoid touching their face, especially their eyes, nose, and mouth.
Stress is a normal part of life, but it's important to teach kids how to deal with it healthily.
There are many ways to do this, but one of the best is encouraging them to exercise regularly. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve mood.
You can also teach them relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.
Finally, ensure they have some outlets for their stress, such as a hobby or spending time with friends.
Practice Positive Affirmations
One of the best things you can do for your kids is to help them develop a positive self-image. One way to do this is to practice positive affirmations with them.
These are short, positive statements that they can repeat to themselves when they're feeling down or stressed. For example, “I am strong,” “I am loved,” or “I can do anything.”
Find some affirmations that resonate with your kids and help them practice saying them to themselves daily. If positive affirmations helped you through pregnancy, share this experience as proof that it works.
Limit Screen Time
Too much screen time can lead to many problems, including sleep problems, anxiety, and depression. Limit your kids' screen time and encourage them to find other things to do with their free time.
There's no need to ban screens altogether, but try to limit it to an hour or two a day. And make sure they're not using screens right before bedtime.
Better alternatives to “too much” screen time are reading, playing outside, or spending time with family and friends.
Get Medical Checkups
Are your kids getting regular medical checkups? This wellness habit helps catch any problems early and nip them in the bud.
Take your kids to the doctor for an annual physical and take them to the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Also, make sure they're getting their vision and hearing checked regularly.
By teaching your kids these wellness habits, you're helping them develop healthy lifestyles that will serve them well into adulthood. And you're setting them up for a lifetime of good health and happiness.
Model Healthy Habits
Finally, one of the best things you can do to encourage healthy habits in your kids is to model those habits yourself. Eating healthy foods makes your kids more likely to do the same.
If you get regular exercise, there is a higher chance they would want to be active. And if you practice good hygiene, they're more likely to do the same.
So make sure you're leading by example and setting a good example for your kids to follow.
These are just a few of the many wellness habits that kids need to learn. As a parent, you are responsible for teaching and encouraging these habits.
So ensure you're setting an excellent example for your kids and helping them develop healthy lifestyles. Your kids will thank you for it later.
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Jude Uchella is a health and wellness advocate and founder of Health Makes You, a reliable resource for comprehensive answers to health-related questions/challenges. He is supported by a team of professionals (a doctor, an anatomist, and a fitness trainer) who contribute and fact-check content on the website.