Please welcome Amanda Henderson as a guest writer for Keeping Kids in Motion. Amanda is both a mom to two rambunctious boys and a preschool teacher, so she knows from experience how quickly a situation can become unsafe. She created and writes for Safe Children to educate parents on how to keep their children safe while also having fun. Greetings Amanda and thank you for your helpful words.
by Amanda Henderson
Starting a healthy lifestyle for the first time as an adult can be challenging, and it requires maximum effort. However, if you teach your children what it takes to live a healthy life from a young age, you save them from the struggle of breaking many bad habits. Here are eight simple ways you can help your kids learn to be health-conscious.
1. Prioritize Mental Health
When you talk about being healthy, mental health should come up as often as physical health. Children can also face depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles. When you see them facing these challenges, teach them to ask for help and reach out to professionals. You can access virtual mental health services and get them the help they need from the comfort of home. Research shows it’s faster and often cheaper than in-person treatment. You also have more professionals and specialties to choose from online. Many even offer free consultations so you find the right fit at no additional cost.
2. Develop Their Leadership Skills
Help your children develop leadership skills by being a leader yourself. When your kids see you making choices to support your mental and physical health, it teaches them to be a leader in their own lives as well. They learn to value integrity, and that naturally creates leaders. When they see you actively seeking positive change, they will as well, and that characteristic will naturally motivate people.
3. Get Them Outside for Exercise
Nurture your child’s natural inclination to spend time outside. They’ll get physical exercise and develop a rich imagination. Go out with them and find new outdoor activities you can all enjoy. For example, take hiking trips together or forge through the trees around your house. If they love to swim, make that a typical part of the summer break routine. Just walking helps children develop better coordination, strengthen muscles, and improve overall physical fitness while also providing many potential mental health benefits. Find an area in your town with a high Walk Score (70 and above is preferable) and try to take a stroll every couple of days. Visit Keeping Kids in Motion for more ideas and resources on how to prioritize fitness for children!
4. Have Open Conversations About the Hard Stuff
When your children reach a certain age, it may be time to talk about the dangers of drugs and other addictive substances. Avoid accusatory language and over-exaggerating your distaste for these substances. You’ll get much further by talking to them like young adults rather than lecturing. If they engage and ask questions, answer honestly, and don’t be afraid to ask them what they already know. If you keep an open dialogue, they’ll feel more comfortable coming to you about challenging subjects.
5. Find Suitable Health Insurance
Health insurance is essential for protecting your family’s health and finances, providing peace of mind in the event of illness or accident. Finding health insurance for your family can be made easier by researching different plans online, speaking with a qualified insurance agent, and utilizing helpful comparison tools to find the best coverage for your needs. If you don’t get insurance through your employer, you can find policies through the Affordable Care Act, Freelancers Union, or Medicaid.
6. Teach Them to Read a Nutrition Label
You’d be surprised how many adults have no idea how to read a nutrition label. If you start teaching them early about making healthy food choices and what to look for when shopping, you can help them avoid some serious health issues. Allow them to practice with you on grocery trips so they can understand the correlation between food and health.
7. Involve Them in Keeping a Clean Home
Teaching your kids the importance of keeping a clean home involves setting a good example and providing specific instructions, clear expectations, and positive reinforcement. Try to involve them in your cleaning and decluttering efforts. If you turn cleaning into a game, kids will be more likely to participate.
8. Teach Them About Oral Hygiene
Oral hygiene is so often overlooked and so important to overall wellness. Teach your kids to brush twice daily and floss every night. Provide them with all the tools they need and start as soon as they are old enough to understand.
Once you start your health journey with your children, remember that everything is better in moderation. If you push too hard, you may lead them in the opposite direction. Whether you’re teaching them leadership skills, finding the right health insurance for your family, or getting them outside for a walk, let them make their own choices, and they’ll often make the right ones.