>> Mar 5, 2013
Helping children develop the habits that will have a crucial impact on their health should be done consistently, from a very early age. The habits formed in childhood are bound to stay on and help children to reap lifelong benefits if they are healthy and especially if they are formed with the parents serving as the role models. The two important aspects of healthy habits are enough exercise and healthy food choices. They are both important as factors for good health.
Exercise is a powerful factor for burning calories, keeping the muscles fit. Any exercise is welcome, according to the preferences. Parents can join their children in exercise such as running, playing ball games, jumping over obstacles, riding bikes, as well as a number of other activities which do not need special equipment but provide enough opportunities for movement and shedding extra pounds. But it is important to observe a principle that is always winning – being positive, praising children goes a long way and is a surefire factor for achieving success. Whenever children exercise for some time, they should be praised and rewarded, so that they can have powerful incentives to keep up the good work.
Food choices should also be encouraged when healthy foods are concerned. Setting a personal example is the best way of motivating children to follow in parents’ footsteps. Junk food should not be the wished for treat; it should not be present on the family table. Instead, healthy foods should be chosen to make the family meals, and children should learn from an early age how healthy different foods are, which foods will help their bodies to grow fast, which ones will make their bones and teeth stronger. There are a lot of amusing ways of acquainting children with the benefits of healthy foods. Fruit and vegetables as healthy snacks rather than candy bars rich in sugar and artificial substances, especially when enjoyed by the whole family, help to build healthy habits that will stay on for years.
There are plenty of options of organising outings, walking, riding bicycles, going to the swimming pool or to the nearby river, and even the times of cleaning the home, for example in spring, when a lot of walking and carrying is done, are all opportunities for building the habit of being active and doing something useful that children will pick up.
The development of healthy food habits is made up of small steps, small objectives that lead to the big goal. Little by little, in the daily choice of foods, in the weekly shopping in the supermarket, and also in the course of watching TV programmes and commenting on foods that should or should not be eaten in order to stay healthy, the habits of choosing foods correctly are built.
The involvement of the whole family is especially important for the children and for their motivation. Exercise and shopping for food should be done as family projects, to infect the children with the common excitement about the achievement of the common family goal.
Angela Harpert is a stay at home mom and a devoted wife who happily shares her Moving to Hounslow experience.