As parents, we all understand the importance of teaching our daughters how to count to 100 and tie their shoes. Over the years, we have spent countless hours reading picture books with them and helping them develop proper social skills. While all of these concepts are vital to their well-being, in all the hubbub of getting our kids school ready or college bound, we might have overlooked teaching our kids simple ways to live a healthier life.
Papa Don’t Preach: 5 Ways to Encourage A Healthy Life
Our kids need us to lead by example and embrace a healthy lifestyle right alongside them, because our actions speak louder than any of our words. Children and teens don’t want to listen to us lecture about eating our fruits and veggies or exercising daily. Afterall, they get those health basics in school. Healthy living today encompasses so much more than eating five servings of vegetables a day.
Thankfully, we can include the following suggestions to get our daughters learning about healthy relationships with food, boys, and electronics – leading to a healthy life overall:
Use your relationship with her and her mother to model appropriate relationships with men. Children need their fathers and how you perform this job will most likely determine a daughter’s self esteem, how she handles adversity, and how she will interact with future romantic partners. A dad’s role is crucial when it comes to setting a child up for a lifetime of healthy choices. Experts recommend using verbal encouragement, being consistently present, listening to her feelings, and taking time to show interest in her activities. This presence, while it seems pretty normal, can help build a young woman’s self-esteem which can protect her from depression, poor body image issues, self harming behaviors, substance abuse, and abusive relationships. That’s a lot of pressure, but it justifies taking time for a tea party or taking her out for a date night to the local ice cream parlor.
Teach her ways to relax. Stress is an unavoidable part of life and our children will experience it at some point. Chances are fairly high, that they have already encountered pressures on the playground, at school, or in the home. Stress can lead to a whole host of unhealthy conditions and wreak havoc on our bodies. That makes it essential that we teach our kids ways to cope with stress. We recommend talking to her about coping with stress, taking up a soothing hobby, or joining a Yoga group together. All of these suggestions will give her healthy options to use throughout all walks of her life.
Give their eyes a rest. It’s no secret that our children spend a massive amount of time looking at screens. Whether it is a Smartphone, computer, tablet, or television they are watching a screen of some type. Teach them that it is alright to take a break from their beloved electronics and screens. Besides the obvious lack of activity, our kids are placing a lot of extra strain on their eyes throughout the day. Help them care for their eyes by following the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of screen time, take a 20 second break to look at objects 20 feet away.
Foster an appreciation for wholesome foods. Most kids love to eat, so we can use this love of food to foster healthy eating habits. Most kids understand the food groups, but putting this knowledge into practice is a whole other process. Tend a garden or visit the local farmer’s market for access to fresh foods. Learn new recipes and make it a new family tradition to cook together. Make it a point to limit take out, except for the occasional evening, and reacquaint everyone with home cooked family meals. This sounds simple, but breaking bread together will create countless opportunities to learn nutrition while bonding.
Enjoy green spaces together. Head outside for some family fun and to take in the world of Mother Nature. Being in the great outdoors has been documented to reduce stress, combat depression, develop spacial awareness, recharge the mind, and more. Plus, fresh air is good for young children and getting out of the house can encourage physical activities like hiking, running, and biking. Thankfully, you can uncover these benefits in your backyard at the local park.
Instilling the foundation for a healthy life doesn’t require a lot of special tools or a lot of money. It comes down to parents who take the time to listen, communicate, and interact with their children and the world around them. What tips do you have for teaching your kids to embrace a healthy life for themselves?