How to Model Healthy Habits for Your Kids
By Amanda Henderson
As a parent, keeping your kids safe and teaching them lifelong healthy habits is a top priority. One of the best ways to do this is living by example and helping them make the best choices, rather than expressly telling them what to do without explaining the ‘why’ behind it. Making good choices also starts with self discipline, a skill that can be cultivated through activities like martial arts training at Charles Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy.
Exercise and Diet
Healthy eating habits must be ingrained in children from a young age. For best results, avoid keeping food groups off limits. Instead, model how all foods can be enjoyed in moderation. Educate your children about the USDA food pyramid and follow Very Well Family’s approach to involve kids in meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. When kids learn to read nutritional labels, they can begin to differentiate between whole and processed foods. Teach them to pay attention to how they feel after eating certain foods. Also limit caffeine, especially “energy drinks” that are chock-full of sugar and stimulants.
Encourage exercise as a “fun” activity rather than a chore. Take regular walks or hikes as a family, encourage participation in sports that pique your kid’s interest, and model the behavior you want them to emulate. Older kids might enjoy activities like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Our Kids Program is a great way to learn self-defense and discipline, as well as stay fit.
Limit Screen Time
Kids today are tech-savvy and are nearly always attached to screens. Limit screen time — not as a punishment, but as a way to keep them engaged in the larger world. For example, make mealtimes phone-free, have a firm “turn it off” time each night, and monitor what your kids are doing online. Not only can you help them learn how to stay safe, but you can also get a feel for what they’re looking at online and find ways to bring them into the real world.
For example, a child who likes motocross games might enjoy competitive biking, while a child who regularly streams programs about space exploration might enjoy learning about astronomy. You can even put smartphones to good use with a star-identifying app! PC Mag also reminds parents, parental controls can put you in charge of what your children access online.
Talk About Drugs and Alcohol Use
Kids are exposed to drugs and alcohol from their peers, other family members, and the media. You won’t be “giving them ideas” by talking about it. Instead, it will help them understand the dangers and ramifications from indulging. Set firm rules for your home, and explain your rationale.
If you find it difficult to broach the subject, there are plenty of resources recommended by child psychologists that can help you ease into the conversation. Most importantly, let your kids know they can always come to you when they have questions or need to talk. Also, let them know that you will always come and pick them up when they need a ride — no matter the circumstances.
Talk About Mental and Sexual Health
Two other conversations parents often shy away from relate to sexual activity and mental health issues. However, opening the channels of communication when they’re young — with age-appropriate approaches — will help protect your kids from depression and risk of suicide, as well as teach them how to protect against STDs and unplanned pregnancy.
Just as there are resources about how to talk to your kids about drugs, there are also resources to help you bring up other sensitive topics, as well. If you’re still hesitant, talk to your child’s pediatrician for advice and suggestions.
Beware of Cyber-Bullying
Kids need to be aware of and protected against cyberbullying and connecting with strangers online. Teach smart internet habits, and let your kids know you’ll be monitoring their online activity. Show an interest in what they’re putting out online, ask questions, and seek out explanations for why they like particular influencers or sites. Have direct conversations about bullying by asking them how they and their friends treat others online. Asking kids to explain their perspectives and feelings will give you great insight into their worlds.
If your kids are interested in learning more about the various types of martial arts training, see Charles Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Truckee’s available classes or reach out for more information. 530-308-9491
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