It seems like everywhere you look, people are talking about habits and routines. There is a big emphasis on creating daily, healthy habits, as opposed to having strict guidelines with what you eat and how you exercise.
This is true in just about every circle, from people who talk about natural and holistic health, to those helping you with your productivity, and others who want to teach about eating right and improving your general health.
While it is mostly aimed at adults, don’t underestimate the power of healthy habits for your kids. These daily habits that they form as children are going to follow them through well into adulthood. You can raise healthy, well-adjusted kids who grow up understanding the importance of their routine and building a strong foundation for a long, healthy life.
Here are some healthy habits that are amazing for kids’ wellness and health.
1. ) More Exercise, Less Screen Time
Did you know that only one in three children in the U.S. are getting physical activity every day? This is according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who found that children spend hours a day in front of the TV or computer, but rarely get any exercise at all.
This is why one of the best things you can do for your kids when it comes to healthy habits is get them moving every day. This doesn’t mean putting them on a strict fitness routine, but just encouraging daily activities that will give them a reason to be more active.
The longer they do this, the more it becomes a daily habit, where it is actually something they enjoy, not something they are forced to do.
Daily Activities for Kids
There are quite a few daily activities that can get your kids away from the screens, and onto their feet. And even better, they won’t feel like exercise! Here are some examples:
Walking the dog – Having your kids help walk the dogs not only gets them outside for at least a few minutes a day, but it helps to teach them responsibility at the same time.
Weekend trips – Over the weekend or summer breaks, don’t spend all day inside the house. Take them to a nearby park, beach, lake, go fishing, or go for a hike. There are a lot of fun things to do that require more physical activity.
After school activities – Are there organizations in your area offering sports or other physical activities after school? This can be a great option!
How to Make it Fun
If you want more exercise in your children’s routines, then there are other fun ways to get it done. If your kids feel like they are being forced to exercise, they won’t want to do it. Try these options instead:
Family dance parties – Have an hour with the family, and not sure what to do? Put on some music, get everyone to the living room, and dance around a bit! This is so much fun, really promote togetherness, and of course is great exercise.
Active games for family game night – Family game night will get your kids away from screens no matter what, but some of them are more active than others. Try to find games where your kids have to get up and act things out, like Pictionary.
Family challenges – You can also turn exercise into challenges, where the winner each week or winner gets some sort of prize. For example, have everyone wear a fitness tracker, and whoever gets the most steps picks out where you go for family dinner on Friday night.
2. ) Reading Every Day
This is a great healthy habit for kids of all ages, but also helps to involve you in their healthy habits as well. As a parent or guardian, it is good for you to have family time with your kids, making reading an excellent daily habit for everyone involved.
Think your kids are too young? Not according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. They recommend reading to your child as early as possible, including when they are infants. This helps to form connections in their brains, and can encourage proper language and social skills as they develop.
Whether you have a toddler or a 10-year-old, try to make reading a regular activity.
Read every day, encourage and help them find books they enjoy
Tips for Finding Books for Your Kids
If you aren’t sure what books your kids will want to read (or have you read to them), here are some different ideas:
Ask for books for kids’ birthday gifts – Instead of toys and clothes, ask your friends and family to get their favorite kids’ books for your children’s gifts. That way, they are sentimental and give you new reading material.
Head to the library – Bring your kids to the library on the weekends or even after school. Libraries offer free books of course, but they also have cozy little reading nooks in the kids’ section.
Don’t miss book fairs! – Book fairs are so much fun for kids. When your kids’ school has them, allow them to participate and give them some money to pick out their own books. When they choose books themselves, it really increases their interest in reading.
3.) Developing Healthy Eating Habits
Healthy eating habits can be a challenge for anyone in the beginning, but with your kids, just start small. The sooner you incorporate healthier eating habits into their daily life, the more accustomed they get to eating a rainbow of foods, including lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein sources.
Unless your child has a food allergy or other special circumstance, don’t worry too much about things like calories. Just focus more on balanced meals with as many vitamins and minerals as you can get, allowing them to pick some foods they enjoy, but also encouraging them to try new things.
Some foods that are great for kids include:
Fruits and Veggies
It isn’t the easiest thing in the world to get kids to eat their veggies, but try letting them try new ones. Involve them in the meal planning and cooking process, and give them delicious dips and sauces to use with the veggies. Fruits tend to be liked by more kids, but try to choose fresh fruit over canned with its added sugars.
Everyone needs protein in their diet, kids included! Protein is important for building muscles and bones, and keeping them full between meals. Some good sources of healthy protein include lean poultry and fish, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds.
Getting more fiber is possible through fruits, but don’t forget about those whole grains! Switch out white rice for brown rice, make their sandwiches with whole wheat bread, and try adding more grains to their dishes like quinoa and brown rice pasta.
Unless your kids have an allergy to dairy or lactose, this is a great option! Dairy provides a little more protein in their diet, and includes important nutrients like vitamin D and calcium.
4.) Personal Hygiene and Oral Health
When you are a parent, you know that personal hygiene and oral health is of paramount importance for your children. There are several ways that you can encourage your children to live a healthier lifestyle that will prevent disease or cavities in the teeth. Use these tips to encourage a child to have better dental and health habits.
Make Hand-washing Easier for Your Children
You can make washing the hands easier for your children by having step stools near the sinks in your home’s bathrooms. In addition, place the bar of soap toward the edge of the countertop where a child can reach it easily. Teach your child how to wash between the fingers and along the fingernails carefully to eliminate bacteria and viruses that can cause an illness.
Buy Child-friendly Toothbrushes and Toothpaste
Take your child to the store to buy a fun toothbrush that has a cartoon character or that makes a musical sound. While you are at the store, look for toothpaste that is appropriate for children. Toddlers should have toothpaste that doesn’t contain fluoride, but when you have older children, fluoridated toothpaste is essential. However, most children don’t like using toothpaste that has a hot mint or cinnamon flavor, so you should look for child-friendly flavors such as grape or cherry.
Coping with Coughing, Sneezing and a Runny Nose
The droplets from saliva and mucus contain thousands of pathogens, and these substances transmit diseases such as influenza, sinus infections and colds. As a parent, you should teach your child how to cope with a runny nose, sneezing and coughing to avoid contaminating other individuals with an illness. Make sure to keep a supply of facial tissues or clean handkerchiefs available to clean a child’s nose. Show your child how to cough or sneeze into a tissue that is thrown away immediately.
Daily Cleanliness and Avoid Sharing Contaminated Items
Your child should avoid sharing certain items with others, including eating utensils, hairbrushes and bathroom linens. Sharing these items will transfer viruses, head lice and bacteria that can lead to a variety of health problems. It is important to keep a home clean by washing bathroom and bed linens frequently, and also, your children should bathe each day. Wash a younger child’s hair with a gentle shampoo, and teach your older child how to perform this task in the shower.
5.) Healthy Habits as a Family
There is no reason the entire family can’t benefit from these healthy habits! In fact, your kids are much more willing to develop these habits when everyone gets involved. This can be a really good bonding experience, helping to bring you closer while you become a healthier, more well-adjusted and happy family.
Here are some healthy habits you can do as a family:
Meal Planning and Cooking
This is not something you need to do alone! Yes, grocery shopping with the kids is probably not ideal, but you can definitely involve them in the meal planning and cooking. You will get a little help, plus kids are much more inclined to eat healthy food when they helped make it, or at least chose what veggies they wanted in their meals.
You already got some great ideas for adding in more exercise as a family, but there are some other activities you can do as a family. For example, you can put up a basketball hoop on the garage door and start throwing hoops with the kids, or you can get a corn hole board for the backyard.
6.) Positivity and Kindness
The last thing we want to talk about is the importance of kindness, positivity, and gratitude. This is going to help work on your kids’ emotional and mental health, as it isn’t all about physical health.
Spreading positivity and kindness is important in your home, as your kids will follow this trend with their friends, neighbors, and classmates.
Teach them the importance of being honest, but being kind to others. About helping out, sharing, and trying to find the positive in things.
You will be surprised how much happier your kids can be with these very simple changes.