8 Ways To Ensure Your Kids Develop Healthy Habits

Left to their own devices, kids would eat ice cream all day and vegetate in front of the TV. As their parents however, you know better and have control over what they do. But what about when they grow older and you can’t force them to be healthy any longer? If you look back to your own college days and remember how unhealthy your habits were, you’d never want your kids to go down the same path. These eight tips will help your children internalize healthy habits so they never go off track no matter what their age.

1. Practice What You Preach

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Your kids are more likely to learn by observation than by listening to you lecture. If you lead an overall healthy life, eat a good diet and get plenty of physical activity, your kids will see this behavior as normal. On the other hand, if they see you skimping on veggies while forcing them to eat their Brussels sprouts, they’re

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not likely to take your words very seriously. You want your children to understand that being healthy is important all through their lives. If you don’t practice this yourself, children will believe it’s something only kids are forced into and they won’t have to do it anymore once they’re adults.

2. Have Family Meals

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Make sure that for at least one meal in a day, the whole family sits down together. Ensure that your meals are home cooked and give your kids a chance to help out in the meal planning and preparation. If your kids are used to eating food cooked at home, they’re less likely to resort to just take out later. Teaching your kids how to cook is also an important skill for them to lead a healthy life. If you make mealtime fun, your children are going to stick to home cooked meals well into their adult lives.

3. Plan Outdoor Trips

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Give your kids plenty of opportunities to burn off their energy outdoors. If you’re fortunate enough to live near a park, take your kids there as often as you can. Hiking, walking along trails and camping will also give your kids a taste for the outdoors, something which will stick with them all their lives. Show your kids that there’s a big, fascinating world out there, beyond their computers and video games.

4. Don’t Go Overboard On Restrictions

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Maintain a healthy 80:20 ratio for your kid’s diet. Make sure they eat nutritious, home-cooked meals 80% of the time and the remaining 20% is for treats, junk food and all the stuff they shouldn’t be eating too much of. If you try to cut out unhealthy food completely from their lives, they’re naturally going to crave it more. When they leave the nest, they’re going to go all out on junk food because they

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finally have the freedom too. But if you focus more on restriction rather than elimination, they will come to view junk food as an occasional indulgence rather than a necessity.

4. Make It Fun

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If you make your kids stick to a healthy eating regimen with all the force of an army general, they’re never going to stick to it of their own accord. Don’t make healthy living a chore for them, turn it into something fun. Get them involved in meal planning, let them help you make dinner, take them out often. You could even plan a vegetable garden with them as kids are more likely to eat all their vegetables when they’ve been actively involved in growing them. When you present healthy living as a fun lifestyle choice, your children are less likely to deviate from this path.

6. Limit Screen Time

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The more

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time your kid spends in front of a TV or computer screen, the higher their chances of developing obesity and cardiovascular problems are. Don’t give them unrestricted access to computers and TV’s, instead demarcate a specific time for when they can use them. Keep your child busy with outdoor activities and play dates.

7. Explore Their Interests

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If your kid is more interested in karate than in ballet classes, let them go for those instead. You can’t force all of your choices on your child, they’re developing into their own personalities. But as long as their interests aren’t burger eating contests, you should give them a free hand to explore what they want to do. If they’re doing something they’re genuinely interested in, they’re more likely to stick to it for a longer time.

8. Use A Good Reward System

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Don’t reach for candy as a

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treat every time you want to reward your child for good behavior. If you do this, your kids will automatically revert to junk food every time they need to feel better. Instead, try getting better with rewards. More often than not, verbal encouragement and hugs are all the positive reinforcement your child needs. For special occasions, take them on a trip to an amusement park or a movie.