As adults, we are fairly aware of the choices we make that affect our health, whether positively or negatively. Teaching positive healthy habits at an early age will prepare our little ones for a long-term health conscious lifestyle where they can practice self-control, making the right decisions, and being confident with their able bodies.
- Self Control: Think about how challenging it is in our adult lives to be constantly mindful of our well-being. Now imagine how difficult that would be for a child who has the option between an easily available sweet snack or a healthier option. By eliminating unhealthy snacks from being easily visible and available, we can avoid the battle. We can still give children the option to make their own independent decision between two nutritional choices. Take this an opportunity for a bonding experience and do a quick snack prep for the week with your child. Pre-slice veggies and fruit of their choice; dollop some peanut butter and hummus into some ramekins for dipping. By giving them the independent experience of kitchen prep and the power of choosing between two of their own healthy proposals, this will positively impact the beginnings of a health-conscious lifestyle.
- Anatomy and Physiology: Believe it or not, children in their formative years can grasp which major muscles are where and the basics of their actions. Go over muscle groups with your child by touching them and displaying the actions those muscles do. For example, touch your biceps and make them big and strong like the hulk. Then show them the action of the biceps by doing bicep curls in the air (maybe even with their favorite toy in their hand for extra resistance!) Slap your quads and show them what a squat looks like by telling them to pick a number, one through ten ,and do that many squats with them. Rub your tummy and show them that your abs help you twist and dance and do the hoola-hoop! These are a fun way to incorporate exercise and learning together.
- Habits are Easy to Create; Hard to Break: Do it now, not later. Young ones learn from their environment and by example. When your child observes you eating and enjoying nutritional foods, they will want to join and enjoy, rather than just being told to “eat your broccoli.” Curve their preferences into healthy ones by taking your child by the hand helping them develop these habits at this crucial age. Laying down a foundation for wholesome lifestyle will benefit them the rest of their lives because the healthier option will become a naturally easier choice to make.
It may feel overwhelming at first, but no parent regrets introducing healthy habits now that will allow children to develop their independence with good health in mind. Introducing these skills can be fun, engaging, and truly a bonding experience where later down the road making the right choice will be second nature to them.