Every parent wants their kids to live a healthy, happy, active and positive lifestyle. We endeavour to instil this in our kids from an early age, so they can benefit from healthy habits as they grow, learn and develop.
Here are our top tips on teaching your kids the healthy lifestyle you’d love them to live.
- Eat Together
The Healthy Kids Association of Australia stresses the importance of the whole family sitting down together for dinner. While it’s hard to coordinate timings with work, sport, and life in general, the Healthy Kids Association say families who eat together more than three times a week “have shown to have more positive outcomes when it comes to health, family relationships and social development.”
Eating together can encourage kids to adopt healthier eating habits. They’ll learn by your example, experience positive feelings around nutritional food, and enjoy the time spent to sit down together as a family.
For those who struggle to get the family together for dinner, Healthy Kids Association recommends starting with just one night a week. Or, try to have a special family breakfast or lunch on weekends. Turning off devices gives you and your kids an opportunity to switch off from distractions and focus on the important little people in your life.
- Kitchen Time
Kids love getting involved in food preparation. Knowing they helped create a meal gives kids a sense of ownership and pride with their food, especially when they get rave reviews from Mum and Dad.
It can be as simple as getting the kids to help you make the salad or sides, or for older kids, teaching them a simple healthy meal and cooking it together. You can explain along the way why certain elements are ‘always foods’ ‘sometimes foods’ or ‘okay in moderation’. You can use kitchen time as a hands-on way to teach the nutritional elements that make up main meals. As a bonus, you might get a sleep in this weekend if the older kids know how to make themselves a bowl of cereal. Double bonus: breakfast in bed for Mum and Dad!
Try to make kitchen time as fun as possible, so the experience is a positive one. Something simple like wearing chef hats and special aprons makes meal preparation so much more exciting for kids, and assembling your vegetables into funny faces adds a light element of fun to everyday meals.
When you have a bit more time, like weekends, make a big deal about making your own vegetable pizzas with the kids, or make a special healthy meal that involves plenty of participation. It’s time spent together and reinforces a positive relationship with healthy food.
- Learn Where Food Comes From
Visiting a community vegetable garden, fruit farm or farm open day is a great way for kids to really grasp where food comes from, in a visual and practical way.
A trip to your closest pick-your-own fruit farm is a great family activity outdoors, and an exciting adventure for kids. It’s often quite a cheap activity, and immensely satisfying when you sit down to enjoy the spoils of your labour together! You can pick your own apples, cherries, berries, apricots, plums and peaches, depending on where you live!
Several farms also do open days, where families can walk around working farms, meet local farmers, learn all there is to know, and maybe even milk a cow or two! Research farm open days in your local area! If you live near a dairy, wheat or sugar cane factory, they also often offer guided tours which can be a great practical education tool.
You can help your kids learn about the origins of food by talking them through the differences in each food group, and where they come from. At each new thing they experience during your farm adventures, they’ll be able to apply new knowledge and understanding. You can talk them through the fact that after they milk the cow, that milk can then be used to make butter and cheese!
- Grow Your Own Fruit & Veggie Patch
Getting kids involved in creating their own fruit and veggie patch is a fun, healthy activity that allows them to see the process from seed to dinner plate!
For littlies who may not be able to grasp the growth process just yet, they’ll still love helping by digging holes, filling in the dirt and harvesting the edibles with your help! Asking the kids to help you grab some parsley from the garden to add that ‘extra touch’ to dinner is a great task for the little ones too.
Snacking on snow peas and tomatoes off the vine and nibbling on radishes and carrots from the garden can give your kids a huge sense of satisfaction when they grow it themselves. It also nurtures a positive relationship with vegetables!
Hearing the appreciation from Mum and Dad about growing fresh ingredients for the dinner table is sure to make any kid swell with pride!
- Body Image Is Important
As parents, we all know it’s important to promote positive body image to our children. It’s important not to talk about our own insecurities or body image issues in front of our kids. We often forget just how much they pick up. With the influence of media and magazines, having a positive role model who reinforces self-love is important. For example, try to shift the focus for healthy eating and exercise to being about how great it makes us feel, how much energy it gives us, how it helps us stay healthy and not get sick, instead of being about losing weight.
- Positive Exercise
If you live close enough to the shops or the kids’ school, choose walking or riding your bikes whenever possible. Embrace stairs rather than always taking the elevator. Plan active family activities on your weekends, and push yourself to lead by example. These small things will do wonders for your own health as well as reinforcing these positive messages for your kids. Why not explain the benefits while you’re at it, “Let’s take the stairs. That will make us stronger in our legs and give us more energy!”
When the kids see Mum and Dad exercising, they suddenly really want to get involved. Walking the dog with Mum or Dad in the morning can be special bonding time that also reinforces positive activity. Family yoga or dancing to music together is also a lovely, positive way of spending time together that promotes exercise.
Encourage your kids to get involved in team sports, and make sure you’re reinforcing these activities in a really positive way. Remember, it’s all about participation and rewarding their involvement, letting them know how proud of them you are, just for taking part. And as frustrating as it can be when you’re rushing around to get the kids to training and games alongside other commitments, it’s important your kids feel encouraged and positively reinforced.
Keep sending those positive and happy signals and your kids will be motivated to keep up the great work! And you’ll feel great too!
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