Summer is right around the corner and for many kids this means freedom. We can’t protect children from everything, nor is it a good idea to – lessons from getting hurt or failing can be vital to character development. But if we want children to have the best chance of living a happy, healthy life, we’ve got to equip them with the right mindset and habits to take with them into adulthood.
Here are six things you can do to influence your kids to form good habits and choose a healthy lifestyle.
Practice what you preach. The best leaders lead by example and, to your children, you are a leader. Your actions speak volumes and your kids are watching. If you want them to eat more vegetables, model that behavior and don’t ask them to do things you don’t do.
Make dinner time an opportunity to learn. If you aren’t already having dinner together with the TV off and the phones put away, now is the time to start. Dinner is an opportunity to connect as a family – to learn together and about each other. Talk about your days, what you like about the meal your having, or what you’ve looking forward to. Connect.
Be active as a family and make it fun. Go do things together – visit a museum, a park, or a fair. Go for a hike, ride a bike, fly a kite, play mini golf. These interactions stimulate learning and growth; they’ll bring your family closer together and foster vital communication skills.
Put yourself first. Sacrificing your needs for the sake of your kids can have the unnecessary effect of teaching kids we don’t value ourselves. Regularly take the time to prioritize your own health and they may learn to do the same. An added benefit is you’ll be better equipped to take care of those you love.
Model good sleeping habits. Adequate, sound sleep equals a healthier, happier person. In addition to no TV during the weekdays, dim the lights inside around 7pm each night and put all electronic devices away within two hours of bedtime.
Get your kids involved in a sport. Whether a team sport or an individual sport, these are great opportunities to teach teamwork and sacrifice, encourage friendship, build camaraderie, and learn to believe in their bodies.
When children see us modeling a healthy lifestyle, they just might follow in our footsteps.
Dr. Brian Myers is a naturopathic primary care doctor with a focus on pediatric and family health at Live Well Clinic in La Quinta. For more information visit www.livewellclinic.org or call 760-771-5970.