Whether your kids have already headed back to school or are on their way soon, now is the time to ingrain some good habits to keep your kids healthy.
During the summer months it is easy to slack off on the daily habits we know we should be instilling in our kids. Now that school is back in session, getting back into good habits should be a lot easier.
Here are a few ways you can encourage your kids to stay healthy, safe, and happy this year and throughout their lives.
Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is vital for a healthy immune system. It is also an important part of good mental health. When kids are young, getting enough sleep can seem easy but as kids become teenagers, this healthy habit tends to drop off.
With school, after-school clubs and activities, friends, teen romances, social media, homework, chores, and family time, it’s not surprising that most teens are sleep deprived. Unfortunately, this is the worst time in a person’s life to have sleep deprivation.
In childhood and the teen years, the brain is finishing its full development. Without adequate sleep and recovery time, this development can be impacted.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, young children between 6 and 12 should be getting at least 9 hours of sleep a night. Teenagers should be getting a minimum of 8 to 10 hours.
Building good sleep habits in your children is all about leading by example. Turn off the TV – maybe even the internet router – and head to bed yourself at a reasonable hour. If kids need extra help sticking to a bedtime, consider banning electronics from their bedroom after a certain time.
For teens, the problem can sometimes be overcommitment. If your teen can’t finish homework before midnight they may need to cut some after-school activities to free up time. Sleep is more important than one extra club or activity on their college applications.
Eating Healthy Foods
Before children reach school age, parents can have 100% control over what they eat. After that though, controlling their diets becomes less and less possible. Even if you send your children to school with a homemade lunch, there is a very high likelihood that they will be sharing snacks, candies, and treats with classmates.
With teens, it becomes even harder – sleepovers, movie dates, after school meetups – they are all likely to include some unhealthy foods.
The first step in helping your children to develop healthy eating habits is to acknowledge that they won’t always stick to them. There is just too much temptation. Instead, your goal should be to help them understand balance and the importance of making good food choices as much as possible.
Stock your home with healthy snacks. Kids love to snack and if the only option is something healthy – that’s what they’ll take. It’s even better if your kids help pick out snacks. At Eric’s Health Food Shoppe, we have a huge selection of healthy foods, snacks, and kids’ daily vitamins. Bring your kids in and we are sure we can help you find something they’ll love.
Some Form of Daily Movement
Childhood obesity used to be a rare occurrence. Unfortunately, in the last few decades, rates have shot up. Part of this is due to unhealthy eating habits but also from lack of exercise. In the past kids entertained themselves by walking around the block with friends, biking down to the baseball field, swimming in the local lake, etc. Now-a-days, kids can play and socialize 100% digitally.
Taking away kids’ electronics and sending them outside isn’t much of a solution when all their friends and everyone they know is still inside on a tablet, phone, or computer. Instead, we can help build healthy exercise habits in our kids by encouraging simple, daily movement.
Do your kids love to dance? Sign them up for dance classes. Do they like soccer, football, baseball, etc? Register them for a local team. If your child isn’t the team sport type, maybe implement a daily family walk or make it their chore to walk the dog around the neighborhood.
The goal isn’t to drive children to “exercise” which can lead to another whole set of bad habits but rather to just encourage them to move. “Exercise” can seem like work or another chore but movement can be fun – social time walking with friends or family, time to explore their own interests on a team sport, even a mental health break with something like yoga.
The key is to listen to your kids and see what they like. The more they enjoy the activity, the less you will have to push them to get up and move each day.
If you live in the neighborhood, why not start right now with a family walk to Eric’s Health Food Shoppe. Showing your kids you believe in building healthy habits – by shopping healthy, getting enough sleep, being active – is the best way to truly ingrain those healthy habits in their minds.