How to Set Your Kids Up for a Healthy Life

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It’s not always easy to get your children to live a healthy lifestyle. They might be a picky eater, or maybe they just want to keep their eyes glued to a screen. Some days will probably be more successful than other days, but it’s important to keep finding some success in getting your children to live healthily. Here’s how you can set your kids up for a healthy life.

Make exercise a fun activity

Exercise doesn’t have to involve doing any specific workouts. Getting your child to exercise can be as simple as walking outside or kicking a soccer ball in your yard. The important thing is to find something that your child has fun doing. Fishing could be one way you can get your child standing and walking around more. In the United States, there were approximately 11.6 million youth participants in fishing in 2017. Whichever activity you choose to do with your children, after you finish doing the activity, ask them how their bodies feel.

Since doing physical activity can release endorphins, they’re likely to say they feel good. This is a good way to get your children to make a connection early between physical activity and happiness, which will encourage them to do physical activity on a regular basis. Additionally, if you’re planning to make a move some point soon, you’re not alone. On average, American homeowners move every five to seven years. Try to consider moving to a family-friendly area where kids can have plenty of activities to do outside.

Limit cell phone use at night

While your child may really dislike having their phone limited, it’s necessary in order for them to get the sleep they need. A study published in the journal PLOS ONE concluded that tweens and teens who have their phones by their bedside may have more difficulty falling asleep. It’s believed that the blue light that emits from screens can suppress the body’s melatonin levels, which can potentially result in throwing off our circadian rhythms. Not getting enough sleep can potentially raise your child’s risk of getting heart disease later in life.

It’s been found that 4 in 5 older adults will battle at least one chronic ailment such as heart disease, arthritis, or osteoporosis. An even more startling number is that 50% will battle with at least two chronic ailments in their lifetime. Helping your child get at least seven to nine hours of sleep, along with learning to manage stress, will help reduce the risk of heart disease and other conditions. Make a rule for your child that bedrooms must be a device-free zone. Have all phones, including your own, left in the kitchen or another room to recharge for the night.

Be patient when exposing them to new foods

When it comes to food preferences, research has shown that kids don’t change their preferences much from ages two to eight. Based on this research, it’s helpful to be patient with children when introducing them to new foods. They may not enjoy eating food like spinach at first, but it doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy it if they try it a second or third time. Avoid making your child have to sit at the dinner table until the new food they’re eating is finished.

If you do, your child may associate the food with punishment. A good alternative strategy you can try is allowing your child to not finish the food, but telling them they’ll have to eat it as a snack if they’re hungry later. Additionally, try arranging the food on your child’s plate in a fun pattern. A study found that kids ate twice as much fruit that was placed onto cocktail sticks and then stuck on to a watermelon.

Be healthier as a family

Your child will feel more encouraged to try to live healthier if they see everyone else in the family living healthier too. Set a plan to get your extended family together for a group activity such as volleyball or spending time at the park. After spending time doing an enjoyable activity, have the family together to eat some new food for dinner.

If you can, ask your adult relatives to show excitement about trying the new food in front of your child. Research suggests children are more likely to mimic that behavior if they see an adult do it. It’s even helpful to have your child help cook the meal. A Canadian study found that kids are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when they help their parents cook the meal.

Getting your child to live a healthy lifestyle will be a challenge at times. As frustrated as your child may get with you, remember how much it will help benefit their health in the future. Do your best to always set the example of living healthy, and be consistently encouraging to your child when they make good health choices.

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