Every caregiver wants to instill healthy habits in their children. But promoting healthy eating and good sleep habits is hard to do day in and day out. By incorporating these habits into your family’s routine, you can help set your child up for success as they grow.
Make healthy habits part of your family’s everyday routine.
Kids thrive with routines. Knowing what to expect every day helps them feel safe and secure. If you want to instill healthy habits in children, make sure they are done on a regular, sometimes daily basis, so they become routine as your child grows.
Many healthy habits are important to instill in children, but here are five of the most important and impactful to prioritize:
Dentists recommend brushing your child’s teeth for two minutes twice a day to prevent cavities and gum disease. By age 3, children can begin brushing their own teeth. Make teeth brushing part of your morning and bedtime routine. Be sure not to skip it even if you’re tired! Part of creating the habit is to be consistent.
There are lots of ways to make teeth brushing more fun. If brushing teeth feels tedious or becomes a battle, add an incentive like a timer or sticker. You can also put on a two-minute song or video. There are even tooth-brushing apps for kids that help encourage them to brush.
All children have to learn emotional regulation techniques. Incorporating those techniques as a part of every day helps them become routine. When intense emotions come up, as they often do for toddlers and preschoolers, giving children the tools to manage them is important.
When children become upset, encourage them to take a deep breath. Have a space in your home dedicated to calming down. Fill it with comfort items like stuffed animals and blankets. Encourage children to visit this space when they are feeling upset. After the child calms down, make it a habit to talk about what upset them. Talking about their emotions will help children understand them better. Give them the language to describe how they were feeling. If necessary, discuss consequences for any actions. Use logical consequences to help children learn from their choices.
Feeding young kids a balanced diet is notoriously difficult. Many children are cautious eaters and reject new foods. But there are some habits you can start with your family to help promote healthy eating.
First, be sure to model the eating habits you want to instill in your child. Make fruits and vegetables a regular part of your meals. Refer to foods in neutral terms, rather than as “good” or “bad.” The best way to get kids to eat new foods is to continue to offer them. It can take many tries for a child to try and enjoy a new food. When introducing new foods, pair them with familiar, well-loved foods. Serve a small amount and don’t get upset if the child is hesitant to taste the new food. Continue to serve fruits and vegetables to children, even if they are unwilling to try them at first.
Moving our bodies regularly is important for our health. Children naturally love to move their bodies, but sometimes they need help from adults to have time and space for exercise. Screen time can limit children’s physical activity. Limiting television and Internet use in favor of movement can help make physical fitness a part of your child’s routine.
Make it a habit to spend time outside as a family. If you have a yard or a driveway, make an effort to go outside with your child regularly. Encourage movement by providing outdoor toys, such as balls, scooters, and bicycles. Visiting parks and playgrounds are also a great way to encourage movement. Incorporate weekly playground visits into your family’s routine. You can also take walks on trails at local parks. Making movement a family affair will make it a habit for everyone.
Finally, good sleep is necessary for children to be healthy. Creating a bedtime routine that works for your family is essential for promoting good sleep.
Start by shutting down tech devices at least an hour before bedtime. Blue light from screens can interfere with our sleep. Promote calm before bedtime by incorporating bathtime, turning down the lights, and reading books together. Make your child’s bedtime firm whenever possible. Getting enough sleep will help children grow and learn, so it’s important to keep bedtime sacred. If bedtime feels like a battle, it may help to make it earlier, because children when get overtired, they have a harder time falling and staying asleep.
How does your family incorporate healthy habits into your routine?
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