For many parents, part of raising a happy child means focusing on teaching them healthy habits they’ll be able to take with them into adulthood. While it’s a good idea to try to help your children make positive and healthy choices, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start.
The best way to start when teaching your child healthy habits is to lead by example. The truth is that your child, no matter how old they are, is watching you and your routines. If you’re doing what you can to live healthy, odds are that your child will emulate these behaviors later on. Here are a few tips on how to help your child build healthy habits through example.
Create a Healthy Home
Creating a healthy living environment for your child begins with the way you live at home. While encouraging healthy eating, limiting screen time and caffeine, encouraging exercise, and providing social outlets are great places to start, it’s also important to think about the environment your child is living in every day. First, consider the physical space. Is your home clean and free of clutter? Are your relationships healthy and free of toxicity? What about practical things, such as your home’s air quality?
Start by taking a look at the physical space your child is living in and make positive changes. Things as simple as enhancing lighting, using filtered water, and creating a quiet study space can make a big impact. Keeping your kid’s playroom clean helps create a safe, organized, and inviting space to play and encourages positive habits of tidiness in children. Have your children help out by turning cleaning and decluttering into a game.
Identify Online Mental Wellness Supports
No matter how clean our homes are or how positive the people we allow in them may be, the truth is that most people struggle with mental wellness from time to time. As your child grows, and especially as a teen, having honest conversations with your child about sexual activity and substance use will matter. To do this, some parents find hiring a great therapist helpful in navigating challenging times.
If your child is struggling with feeling down due to depression, stress, bullying at school, or anxiety, one way to get help is through online therapy. Requiring less effort than in-person counseling, virtual therapy can be a great way to give your child extra support as they navigate any struggles they may be facing.
Finding the right insurance can be a tricky process, especially if you’re a freelancer, but it’s essential in order to get access to healthcare services like therapy. The healthcare exchange is a great place to start when searching for the right health plan; compare plans side-by-side and find one that gives you coverage for your mental health needs, such as therapy sessions and medication. Check out the deductibles and coinsurance requirements, so you’re not hit with unexpected costs down the line. Doing a little research on your options will save you time, money, and stress in the long run.
Make Nutrition and Activity a Priority
As kids grow, they need the right nutrition to be able to keep up in school, work, and play. Starting now to help your child understand the importance of healthy eating can be a gift they take with them into adulthood. Encourage your kids to pick an apple, sandwich, or milk over a bag of candy when possible. Not only will this reduce hunger, but it also will give them the energy they need to get through the day in a productive way.
Walking is an excellent way to stay active and healthy for both children and adults alike. Not only does it burn calories, but walking also helps to release endorphins that can help keep your mood up. To find great spots for walks, try using Walk Score maps which will show you the nearby parks, trails and outdoor areas in your area that are good for walking. It’s easy to get started – just a few minutes of walking each day can have lasting health benefits for everyone in your family.
Building Healthy Habits for Life
In the end, your child will have a better chance at a healthy future if you lead by example by taking steps like creating a healthy home, walking more often, making nutrition a priority, and finding the right health insurance for your family.
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— This post was contributed by Amanda Henderson
Amanda Henderson 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.