Parents must create a nurturing and healthy environment for their children to grow in. Whether sleeping on time, eating healthy, or respecting their elders, children adopt whatever they confront. It can be overwhelming to look after a young person because children fail to express their needs adequately. To reduce health risks and indulgence in poor habits, consider the following ten tips for creating a healthy lifestyle for your child.
- Promote healthy eating
Lack of parental supervision can have a detrimental impact on a child’s health and well-being. Whether your child stays at home or regularly goes to school, keep yourself updated with their activities and who they are interacting with.
For instance, at home, ensure the fridge and pantry have stocks of healthy food, and there is less junk or fast food available. Eating vegetables and fruits is essential, though let your child have the freedom to decide what they want to eat. Let them pick and choose food items when grocery shopping. To avoid binge-eating, prepare meals in advance. To keep unhealthy snacks away, ensure they have a healthier alternative. For example, offer them sweet and juicy fruits instead of giving them a bar of chocolate. Or, you can serve fresh juice instead of sodas and fizzy drinks with every meal.
2. Stay mindful of any health conditions
Be aware of any health conditions to promote healthy living in your children. Children with specific health conditions require additional care and support. For instance, a child with cerebral palsy (CP) may have dietary problems. Due to the vulnerability to gastroesophageal issues, it is difficult for children with CP to eat comfortably.
To ensure healthy growth, use appropriate feeding methods. Children with cerebral palsy may need a feeding tube, and the process of looking after their dietary needs can be expensive. Unfortunately, cerebral palsy does not have a cure for now. But suppose your child was diagnosed with CP due to medical malpractice or negligence. In that case, a cerebral palsy lawyer can get you financial compensation for your child’s condition. A monetary reward helps pay for healthcare, assistive devices, special education, and therapy.
3. Monitor school activity
When your child is away at school, they are likely to consume unhealthy or unhygienic food. Check the food items and hygiene standards at your child’s school cafeteria. Avoid sending your child to a school where vending machines and unhealthy food items are on sale.
Keep the school administration in the loop regarding your child’s dietary needs and restrictions, especially if they have allergies or other health conditions. For example, you can pack a lunch for your child daily to teach healthy eating habits. It helps keep track of what your child consumes and avoid unhealthy foods.
4. Everyday physical activity
Children require at least sixty minutes of regular physical activity. Some form of physical activity like walking around the block after dinner, cycling, or playing a ballgame can be a fun way of bonding with your child. You can also check out community centers for games and activities. Organize play dates with your child’s friends and their families.
5. Eat meals together
Eating together can drastically benefit your child’s lifestyle. The whole family eating together creates a happy and nurturing environment for the child. In addition, family dinners can be good for interacting with your child if you are a working parent. You can ask them about their day and let them know you are involved in their life. Also, family dinners are often prepped in advance and made at home, which can help cut back on grocery expenses.
6. Don’t use food as a reward
Using foods as a reward is unhealthy for your child’s emotional and physical well-being. You may think doing it a couple of times would be of no harm, but gradually it becomes a cue for the child to eat their favorite food as a result of doing something good. It may also disrupt their natural desire for it. Instead of restricting your child’s favorite meal, limit its portion size or frequency of consumption. Instead of food, use non-food items as rewards like extra fifteen minutes of playtime or a new set of coloring pencils.
7. Eat the rainbow
Children depend on parents to give them nutritious meals until they become adults and can look after their needs. Therefore, serve fresh and delicious vegetables and fruits with every meal or snack. Be mindful of how you source your fruits and vegetables. As a general guideline, children above the age of four need a one-and-a-half cup of fruit and one to two cups of vegetables daily. You can prep their meals and snacks in advance or keep a stock of pre-cut, frozen, or canned produce. It reduces the urge to give your child junk or fast food to satiate their hunger.
8. Mindful eating
Discourage using smartphones and tablets during meal times. With a screen in front, it becomes difficult for children to focus on the food, no matter how hungry they are. Limit screen times and ban anything that distracts attention from dining table food. At the end and before every meal, ask your child what they want, how hungry they feel and whether they are comfortably full. Asking these questions will help them respond to their body’s needs and not indulge in overeating.
9. Balanced sleep cycle
A crucial part of a healthy lifestyle is a balanced sleep cycle. Children who get adequate sleep every night are likelier to keep a healthy weight, have better cognition, and perform well in school. Therefore, limit screen time and remove tech devices from the bedroom before bedtime.
10. Be a good role model
Children imitate the habits and interests of their parents and caregivers. If you wish your child to have a healthy lifestyle, work on yourself too. Avoid eating unhealthy food, and stay away from toxic habits like substance use. Also, be aware of how you talk about body image in front of your children. Children are sensitive and likely to internalize whatever parents say and do. Be mindful to keep a positive and healthy attitude in front of your children. Find activities you can do with your child, like playing catch, painting, or reading together.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your child avoids the risk of physical and mental health issues later in life. In addition, children with a balanced lifestyle perform better at school. As a parent, strive to be the best role model for your child when it comes to eating healthily, avoiding harmful substances, and refraining from toxic habits.