In many ways, our society has become obsessed with the concept of “thinner is better” rather than “healthier is better.” And with so many people thinking that way, it’s all too easy for children to start believing that thinning down is the only way to be healthy and happy. Help your kids develop healthy habits with these simple tips.
Lead by example
If kids are simply told they have to live healthily, doing so can seem like a chore. And from there it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to their believing they must eat and exercise in a certain way to live up to society’s “standards” for thinness. But if they see you and your family and friends loving healthy foods and thriving on exercise, they will see how much joy comes with living that way. If you make nutritious cooking and family exercise regular elements of your daily routine, those healthy habits are much more likely to stick with your children for life.
Give them options
The best way for children to develop lifelong healthy habits is by teaching them about proper nutrition and exercise, and then allowing them to make decisions for themselves. For instance, rather than saying “we’re having chicken and salad for dinner,” ask “would you like to have chicken and salad or fish and roasted veggies for dinner?” By doing so, you teach your children just how many healthy options there are that can be just as fun and exciting as the unhealthy ones. This way your children will naturally gravitate toward healthy choices rather than feel it’s what they have to do to be thin.
Make exercise fun
Considering that most children are happy to run around in circles for hours on end, keeping them active doesn’t have to be the most challenging of tasks. Take your kids to the local tennis courts, have a dance party after dinner or go for a walk through their favourite park. You can also get them involved in activities outside the home, such as school teams or independent sport clubs. Of course, you don’t want to force them into something they don’t want to do, but if you listen to them, you may discover they’re more interested in activities than you think. Look for those moments when they mention a sport they think might be cool and suggest you help get them involved. If that doesn’t happen, suggest a few options, and see if anything piques their interest.
Focus on feel rather than look
All too often in today’s society, compliments are given on the basis of how we look. Though honest compliments are important for establishing self-esteem, try to focus that positivity toward elements other than appearance. When you come back from a family walk, comment on how good you feel, and ask your children if they’re experiencing the same exhilaration. Drawing attention to these good feelings can help your kids begin making connections on their own about how healthy choices affect well-being.
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