Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Top Tips For Encouraging Your Child To Lead A Healthy Lifestyle

As parents, ensuring our children are happy and healthy as the develop into adulthood is the reason we exist. It’s what keeps us up at night, and the reason we get up in the morning. And while society seems convinced that fast-food and computer games are the way to go, many of us parents are looking at the frightening childhood obesity statistic and refusing to allow that to be the fate of our little ones. When television advertisements and social pressure make fast food and a sedentary lifestyle seem like the coolest way to be, us parents are fighting the hard battle - the battle for health and fitness. Educating our kids about the importance of exercise and a balanced diet, and trying to encourage them to feel enthusiasm about both can be tiring. Here are a few key ways to get disinterested kids enthused about their own health and fitness.

Get out and about
Exercise doesn’t always have to look like exercise. It can look like a long walk in the woods with the dogs, a swim in the ocean, or climbing a tree. Encouraging your children to spend time out of doors is the best way to encourage them to prioritize fitness. Sitting in front of a television or a computer all day, every day, just isn’t good for them, physically or mentally. If you require more structure, why not make a family promise that you will all spend at least thirty minutes a day outside, whatever the weather? A family dog is a great way to reinforce this (the pup isn’t going to let you forget to take them on their walkies after all) but if you don’t want the responsibility or another mouth the feed, then find some activities you enjoy together as a family, and go for it. Even if it’s half an hour in the park, swinging on the monkey bars or on the swings.

One very good reason to encourage your child to spend time outdoors is that they’re more likely to grow up to be the sort of adult who enjoys spending time outdoors. This is giving them the best opportunities in life, and great habits that will stick with them.

Lead by example
Whether consciously or subconsciously, your children follow your lead. That means, if you sit on your bum in front of the television, playing on your smartphone, your kids will do exactly the same thing. If, instead, you get up early, go for a jog, make breakfast, and spend some time in the yard, your kids will grow up thinking this is normal. When you lead by example, you guarantee good habits for your children. Now, this doesn’t necessarily sound fun, but when your child first suggests cycling alongside you when you’re out for your jog, you know you’ve made a success of it. Your kids idolize you, so make the most of that and give them some good habits to start on young.

Make the most of your backyard
However big your back yard, it’s the perfect space for getting your kids outside and burning off energy, without the need for constant supervision. And it doesn’t have to be expensive for you to kit the yard out for energetic playtime. Skipping ropes and hula hoops are practically free, require very little space, and will keep your kids exercising for hours. Even a trampoline, such as a rebounder, is perfect for encouraging them to exercise, without them even knowing it. If you engage with these activities as their parents, encouraging them to make games using the equipment, sing songs as they skip or hula hoop, or learn some fun tricks on the trampoline, then they start to build the association between outdoors, exercise, and fun, which they can take with them into adulthood.

Cook together
Healthy eating is an essential skill for kids to take with them into adulthood, if they’re going to grow up healthy. These skills can’t be learned at school - they’re your responsibility to teach. So when you cook a meal, encourage them to join you. It’s a great time to talk about healthy, balanced diets, but it also teaches them the skills they’ll need when they grow up. These skills include meal preparation, understanding flavors, but also understanding how different components of a healthy diet are important for the body’s overall health.

If you find that your kids are a bit fussy when it comes to healthy eating, a great trick for getting them to branch out is to get them involved with the whole process. That means, if you have the time and space, starting your own little vegetable plot in the backyard or in a community plot can really help your kids to gain an appreciation for more healthy food. It doesn’t have to be a huge operation, just a few vegetables and fruits that you can plant and tend together, and ultimately harvest, cook, and eat. Teaching your little ones about this connection between earth and their meals will help them to gain a greater understanding of the food they eat but, most of all, it’s great fun!

Enroll them in fun sports clubs
Exercise comes in many forms, but it’s not just good for their physical health, it’s also good for them mentally too. Getting out and socializing in a competitive setting can help to teach children a lot about interpersonal relationships as they grow up, and they stay healthy as a bonus. Some children are very shy when it comes to joining sports teams, and it’s essential that you listen to their concerns and try to work these things out together - otherwise they may just grow up resenting the sport entirely. Ask them which sports they’re interested in, and encourage them to talk about their experiences after each session.

When kids want to sit on the couch and watch television instead of going outside to play, it’s time to get imaginative.  Studies show that children who partake in sports are far more likely to grow up into healthy adults. If that isn’t proof that starting them young will have a positive, long-term impact, I don’t know what is.

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