7 Healthy Habits to Teach Your Children ...

We all want our children to be happy and healthy, but how do we encourage that every day? How can we teach our little ones the habits they’ll need to be healthy as they grow? I admit I don’t have it all figured out (who does?) but I do have some hints to share. Here are 7 healthy habits to teach your children… my children… all of our children!

1. Dental Hygiene

Dental health is key to a child’s overall health, so it’s important to teach our children excellent dental hygiene. This includes brushing after meals and flossing once a day, as well as avoiding sweets, and having a dental check-up and cleaning twice a year. It’s not enough to send your little one into the bathroom with verbal instructions — until your child has the brushing and flossing technique set, you’ll have to supervise and help.

2. Exercise

It used to be that children were outdoors playing more than they were indoors, but that’s just not the case anymore. It’s not just an increase in TV, video game, and computer use. It also has to do with mom and dad both working all day. Whatever the reason your child spend all day indoors, it’s vital to teach them the benefits of lots of exercise. The best way to instill this is to set a good example by being active yourself! You might be tired when you get home from a long day of work, but turn off the TV, get the family off the couch, confiscate the cell phones, and get outside and play!

3. Reading

So many children aren’t prepared for advancement in school… a major stumbling block is reading skills! For young children, at least until the third grade, it’s a marvelous idea to read with them 20 minutes each day. It doesn’t matter what you’re reading together, just read! You’ll notice their literacy skills improving within just a matter of weeks… and as their reading skills improve, so will their other school skills!

4. Eating

Right now, nearly 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese, and children with weight issues are much more likely to have health issues as adults, some of which are terribly serious and debilitating. Teach your child healthy eating habits, like proper serving sizes and how to use the food pyramid, and they’ll take these habits into their adult lives. There’s a wealth of valuable information at First Lady Michelle Obama’s website, LetsMove.gov. Check it out!

5. Kindness

A little kindness can go a long way, and not just for the person on the receiving end of the kind word or gesture. Studies have shown that people who are kind and show gratitude and appreciation are less likely to suffer from the negative effects of stress. How wonderful!

6. Don’t Be Afraid of Police Men

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I were at a donut shop when a police man came in for coffee. I introduced her to him, and when I asked what advice he had for a parent, he said that we moms and dads must stop making kids afraid of them! He said that most often when he sees parents and their children, the parents say something like, “There’s a policeman! You’d better be good or he’ll take you to jail!” The officer said that while the parents think it’s funny, all it really does is make children afraid of police men, who are there to help them. How interesting!

7. Stranger-danger

The other piece of advice that police office had for me and my daughter was that she has to know what a “stranger” is. But it’s also important to let children know that other people can hurt them too… in fact, most often, the people who prey on children are someone our children know, someone they might even trust. It’s so important, then, to let our children know that they have to trust their instincts, and tell mom or dad immediately if anyone, stranger or not, does anything to make them uncomfortable. Also, the officer said to teach my daughter that if a stranger does approach them, or try to carry them away, for her to fight back, as hard and loud as she can — often, this is enough to frighten a would-be abductor away.

These are just a few of the healthy habits I’ve worked to impress on my children, and though I admit we still have a long way to go, I’m proud of my little works-in-progress. Which of these healthy habits do you work on your with your kids? What other tips do you have to share on teaching our children healthy habits?

Top Photo Credit: noam.armonn