Teaching Children a Lifetime of Healthy Habits

All parents want their kids to be healthy- today, tomorrow, and for a long time to come. Getting your children to eat their vegetables at dinner tonight or convincing them to turn off a video game tomorrow is definitely a victory in this quest.

Yet, more than making a one-time healthy choice here and there, the ultimate goal is really to instill a lifetime of healthy habits in our children. Read on to learn how to help your children develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime!

1. Enlist Their Help.

Yes, it can absolutely be easier to do things like prep meals on your own, but enlisting your children's help can go a long way in helping them develop healthy habits that will last. First, helping with a project will give your child ownership over it, thus increasing their enthusiasm. Secondly, as you work together with your child on healthy projects you are giving him or her a skill set to do things such as prepare healthy meals independently.

2. Make It a Family Affair.

Consider going to a farmers market to get fresh local produce, going on weekly family bike rides, or hiking to a local waterfall together. Making healthy choices can be a fun family affair that will build lifelong habits and traditions.

3. Model Them.

Like it or not, the motto “do as I say, not as I do” has no place in helping to ingrain healthy choices in little ones. Studies have shown that children's eating habits and lifestyle choices are often learned through observation. From an early age, let your children see you enjoying nutrient rich foods and prioritizing self-care choices like fitness programs and relaxation.

4. Encourage Self-Awareness.

Life can get so busy, even for young children, that it can be all too easy to ignore how various foods and exercise can make the body feel. Ask your child guiding questions to help him recognize how he feels after that bag of chips versus how he feels after an apple with peanut butter. Help him/her recognize the endorphins he/she gets from running hard at his/her soccer game as compared to the sluggish feeling he/she gets after binge watching a TV show. For older kids, it can be helpful to keep a journal of how food and fitness choices make them feel.

5. Make Choices Fail-Proof.

Letting your children make their own healthy choices empowers them to make good choices all by themselves, even when you aren't there to help guide. Start the journey to making independent choices by making them fail-proof. For example, offer the choices of grapes or oranges for snacks rather than 'what would you like for snack?' The first questions guarantees a healthy option, regardless of which choice is preferred, that your child has self-selected. On the other hand, the second question may result in the answer of “cookies and ice cream.” Fail-proof questions will build your child's confidence in making healthy choices for years to come!

Start implementing these steps today to ensure that your kids develop healthy habits that will last for their lifetime If you want to create the ultimate Healthy Household, apply to work with me in my one-week intensive Healthy Household Makeover Program!