Establishing Healthy Life-Style Habits in Your Children

It’s the twenty-first century and children are exposed to a multitude of child-specific ads. Additionally, the rapid development of technology has spawned innumerable channels of contact between children and commercial products. Television ads promoting cookies, candies, snack foods, and sugar-laden drinks are flashed in front of children hundreds of times each month. Computer games, handheld electronic games, and television cartoon shows are contributing to a nation of pint-sized couch potatoes. Parents are concerned that the influence over their children, held by advertising companies and technology, is stronger than their own influence. Many parents are looking for positive ways to encourage their children to adopt healthier lifestyles while they are young.

Get the Whole Family Involved in Exercise
Have a family meeting, and choose some healthy activities to get everyone on their feet and moving. Some backyard games your family might enjoy include volleyball, badminton, croquet, backyard bowling and any game played with a ball. Children love to play games, especially when parents join in. This gets everyone off the couch and participating in health-enhancing physical exercise. The following activities might also appeal to your family.

· Family bowling night
· Family hiking trips
· Weekend camping trips
· Kite flying
· Canoeing or kayaking
· Beach-combing
· Swimming at the ocean or lake
· Family bike rides

It’s important for parents to set a good example for their children. Organizing family activities that focus on vigorous exercise can establish the foundation of a child’s long-term healthy life-style.

Read a Book Together
Reading is a great family activity. It engages the mind and imagination, while improving reading skills and comprehension. This is the perfect method for introducing your children to some of the classics. Determine a regular reading schedule of two nights a week. An hour is a good length of time for this activity. Allow extra time if the children are participating in lively conversation. Assign each family member a designated time for reading, and use the balance of the hour for discussion. It takes awhile to read a book this way, but those involved never forget the book or the lessons learned.

For an example, suppose your family chooses to read Howard Pyle’s classic, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Because Pyle wrote this book for young people, it contains many passages that will engage a child’s imagination. Before the reading begins, encourage the child to read as though they were a character in a play. This is fun for everyone. It builds the child’s comprehension and exercises the memory. There are times when the text contains a lot of characters and activities, making it fun for each person to read a certain character’s part. Children may also enjoy dressing up like one of the book’s characters. A healthy, active mind contributes to good mental acumen.

Grow a Family Garden of Health
Combine learning about good nutrition with growing delicious and healthy vegetables in a family garden. Berries are very easy to grow. These healthy little delights can be eaten directly from the bush or used in desserts. Talk about the benefits of various vegetables as your family plans the garden. Discuss the vitamins that are found in the beautiful colors of the vegetable. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain specific nutrients based on their colors. Teach children about these colors and their nutrients. Encourage them to include a good variety as they choose their favorite vegetables to plant.

If growing a garden is out of the question for your family, you can still teach your children good nutritional habits by using the vegetable colors to create your weekly grocery list. Include children in the meal planning and guide them to selecting a good variety of colors in their vegetable and fruit choices. Older children can select recipes and participate in meal preparation.

It’s important for children to engage in physical and mental activity on a regular basis.  Proper exercise and nutrition builds strong bones and healthy bodies. Empower your children by teaching them about good habits, and provide with them a solid foundation as they grow into adulthood.

Water – Inside and Outside
Drinking plenty of water is another important health habit you can instill in your children. Water is the best thirst quencher. It assists with flushing impurities from the body, and lubricates joints. It’s equally important for children to learn the important part water plays in keeping the outside of the body clean. Hand washing is very important. Children need to be taught how germs spread when hands are not washed properly.

These simple, healthy suggestions are important for the whole family. Proper exercise, nutrition, mental stimulation and body cleanliness are lessons that will keep your children on a healthy path through life.

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