Everywhere you turn, people are talking about habits and routines. There is a focus on creating daily healthy habits, rather than strict guidelines for what you eat and how to exercise.
This is true in just about every circle, from those who talk about natural and holistic health to those helping you with your productivity.
Healthy habits are important for adults and kids alike, though the tricks for raising healthy children may be different than those that work on adults. You can raise healthy, well-adjusted kids who grow up understanding the importance of their routine and building a strong foundation for a long, healthy life.
Healthy habits for kids not only provide benefits in the short-term, but they also make it more likely people will want to sustain them over time. See below for some great healthy habits for children.
Healthy Habits for Kids To Follow
1. More Exercise, Less Screen Time
Of the 265 million children living in the U.S., a dismal 33% are getting daily physical activity, according to an email from the Department of Health and Human Services. These kids spend hours each day watching TV or playing video games and very rarely get any exercise at all.
One of the best ways to foster healthy habits for kids is to ensure they get enough exercise each day. Encourage your kids to engage in activities that will keep them active, such as walking or going outside even when its raining.
The longer parents make their children do this, the more ingrained it becomes as a habit.
Daily Activities for Kids
Kids are often glued to screens indoors. For them to get exercise and explore, take them outside. Here are a few activities that will do just that:
Walking the dog – Teaching your kids responsibility by having them walk the family pets is a great way to involve them in the household and outdoors.
Weekend trips – On the weekends or during a summer break, don’t just spend all day inside. Take them to play close by at a nearby park, beach, lake, or go fishing. There are many fun outdoor activities available where you can get some exercise too.
After school activities – If you’re looking for an after-school activity with your child, there are organizations in the area that may offer sports or other physical activities. This is such a great option.
How to Make it Fun
Wanting more exercise in your children’s routine? There are other ways to accomplish that. If they don’t feel like it, the kids won’t do anything. Try these options instead:
Family dance parties – Looking for an activity to do with the whole family? Play music and have a dance party where everyone can get involved. It’s fun, promotes togetherness, and gets you moving!
Active games for family game night – Finding a family game night that will get your kids away from screens is difficult, but it’s easier if the games let them act things out, like Pictionary. They won’t even think of it as being exercise.
Family challenges – You can turn exercise into challenges. For example, whoever has the most steps by week’s end goes to dinner with a loved one. Putting fun rewards with the challenge is always the way to go with kids.
2. Reading Every Day
Because this is a great habit that benefits kids and parents, as well as fostering family time, reading to children every day is an excellent daily habit for everyone involved.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to read books to their children from birth, since it can help form connections in the brain and encourage proper language and social skills as they grow.
Whether you have a toddler, 10-year-old or any other age of child, try to make reading a regular activity.
Encourage and help your child find books they enjoy.
Tips for Finding Books for Your Kids
You can get any number of books for kids, but it’s hard to know what they want or have already read. Here are a few ideas:
Ask for books for kids’ birthday gifts – Rather than toys or clothes, ask your friends and family to get their favorite children’s books for your kids’ gifts. These items are sentimental and give you new reading material. You can even do this in the beginning with your baby shower, if you’re pregnant: Instead of cards, ask the giver for books with an inscription in the front cover. These will be fun to look at later on in life to see who gave who what book.
Head to the library – Bring your kids to the library on weekends and after school to check out books- but also so they can read in a cozy reading nook with lots of nearby children’s books.
Don’t miss book fairs! – When your kids’ school has them, encourage their participation and give them a stipend to purchase their own books. Book fairs really help increase interest in reading when they can pick out books themselves.
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3. Developing Healthy Eating Habits
Healthy eating habits can be challenging for anyone in the beginning, but with your kids, start small. As soon as you incorporate healthier eating habits into their daily life, they’ll become accustomed to a variety of foods like vegetables and fruits and whole grains.
Don’t worry too much about the number of calories your child consumes. Just focus on balanced meals with plenty of vitamins and minerals, allowing them to pick foods they enjoy while also encouraging them to try new things.
Some foods that are good for kids include:
Fruits and Veggies
It is difficult to get kids to eat their vegetables, but involve them in meal planning and cooking. Give them tasty dips and sauces to use with the veggies or fruit. Canned fruits tend be liked by more kids, but try to choose fresh over canned when possible because of the added sugar in canned fruit.
Protein is crucial for keeping muscles toned and bones strong. Four good protein sources are lean poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds
Grains and Fiber
Eating more fiber is possible through fruits, but don’t forget about those whole grains! Switch out white rice for brown rice, make their sandwiches with whole wheat bread, and try adding other grains like quinoa and brown rice pasta to their dishes.
Rather than removing dairy from their diet, consider adding it in as long as they are not lactose intolerant. Dairy supports the development of important nutrients like protein.
4. Personal Hygiene and Oral Health
In an effort to improve your child’s personal hygiene and oral health, there are several things that you can do. Check out these tips on how to encourage a healthier lifestyle.
Make Hand-washing Easier for Your Children
Phone Stool: Place a step stool near the sink in your bathroom to make it easier for children to wash hands and reach the soap.
Bar of Soap: Put bar of soap close to edge of countertop and teach child how to wash between fingers and along fingernails carefully to completely eradicate bacteria.
Buy Child-friendly Toothbrushes and Toothpaste
Take your child to the store to buy a toothbrush with their favorite character or make noise. While you are at the store, look for a kid-friendly toothpaste. Toddlers should use fluoride-free toothpaste, but when you have an older child, fluoridated toothpaste is essential. If your child doesn’t like hot mint or cinnamon, look for kid-friendly flavors such as cherry or grape.
Coping with Coughing, Sneezing and a Runny Nose
Mucus droplets on saliva can carry influenza and other illnesses, so teach your child how to cope with runny noses, sneezing, and coughing. Avoid spreading the germ by having plenty of facial tissues or clean handkerchiefs available. Show them how to cough into a tissue that is thrown away immediately.
Daily Cleanliness and Avoid Sharing Contaminated Items
To reduce the risk of passing viruses, head lice and bacteria to your children, never share food or eating utensils with them. Bath and bed linens should also be washed frequently. Older children may benefit from short hair cuts; their heads should be washed at least once a day in the shower to avoid head lice infestation.
5. Healthy Habits as a Family
There are many healthy habits for kids that will make your entire family healthier, but it’s especially important for children to develop this habit. I love that it can become a bonding experience with them.
Here are some healthy habits for kids that you can do as a family:
Meal Planning and Cooking
You shouldn’t have to grocery shop alone! Involve your kids in meal planning and cooking so they can help, plus they’ll be more likely to eat healthy food that they helped prepare, or at least choose what vegetables they want in their meal.
There are a number of family-friendly activities you can do to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine. For example, you can hang up a basketball hoop in your garage or host an outdoor corn hole tournament with the kids.
6. Positivity and Kindness
We want to encourage you to be kind, positive, and grateful for your kids. These actions will help them with their emotional and mental health- while physical fitness is important too.
Spreading positivity and kindness is important at home, because kids will follow this trend with their friends, classmates, and neighbors.
Help them learn the importance of honesty by also teaching them empathy and kindness.
You will be pleasantly surprised how much happier your kids can be by making these simple changes.