Whether you realize it or not, the things you teach (and don’t teach) your children today will have a profound impact on their lives as they grow up and go out into the world. Habits, manners and attitude form at an early age and once kids get older, it’s harder to change or influence them.
As a parent, it’s your job to put your children on the right path early and some of these habits and routine include healthy eating, exercise and being conscious about caring for the body.
It may not be enough for you, as a parent, to teach your children the best path to healthy lifestyle habits, but you will also need to lead by example. As a single parent, we don’t have the luxury of full-time care of our kids like many dual parent families have and as a result, we may allow things to slide because instilling discipline takes energy and mental effort. But the more effort we put into our kids in the beginning, the easier life will be for everyone because you will have the peace of mind knowing you have set them in the right direction.
Building some habits into house rules can make the teaching process easier while other learning opportunities are really set by your own actions that they observe. Be conscious of your actions, attitude and habits as well.
As a single parent, we don’t have the luxury of full-time care of our kids … and as a result, we may allow things to slide because instilling discipline takes energy and mental effort.
Here are five tips to consider for moving towards a healthy lifestyle:
1. Limit Their Screen Time
These days, it feels like children pick up an iPad before they can walk. And while that may not seem like something bad, it can be. The truth is, more and more kids grow up in the digital world, rarely taking their gaze away from the screen – be it their phone, tablet, laptop, or TV. Though they can learn a lot from the internet and expand their horizon beyond their own home through social media, there are negative consequences. Spending too much time on the screen prevents your kids from experiencing the world around them. It can also make it more challenging for them to socialize in-person and find pleasures in natural physical activities.
What’s more, too much screen time can interfere with their schooling, and it can lead to a sedentary lifestyle so limit their screen time. A couple of suggestions to limit their screen time could include:
- Regulated access: You create a safe list of allowable websites that they can visit so that you know they are only visiting kid-friendly sites.
- Monitored login: You provide the login so that you can monitor when they can have online access
- Restricted time frame: You create a schedule for when they can have screen time. For example, only 2 hours a day after homework and for 4 hours on the weekend.
Limiting screen time will help get our kids out interacting with others and create a healthy social and mental balance.
2. Maintain a Positive Attitude
According to experts, having the ability to maintain a positive state of mind can significantly contribute to good health and well-being. What’s more, researchers suggest that maintaining a positive attitude is something we can teach ourselves and our children.
As adults, we can try tactics like meditation, positive affirmations, and being more physically active to stay positive. It’s a mental state that often times may seem so difficult because as single parents, we have many struggles and challenges to deal with. Some easy things to put into practice include:
- Pollyanna approach: Always find something positive about every situation.
- Positive affirmation: Before starting your day, greet yourself and your kids on a positive note
- Creative solution: When things are difficult, tackle each problem with a can-do attitude and a creative solution.
By displaying a positive attitude toward life and its challenges, we subconsciously teach our kids to do the same.
3. Teach Your Kids to Be Curious And Self-Learning
Most kids possess an innate curiosity. The problem is, many parents slowly squash it by not encouraging self-learning and curiosity. As a parent, one of the best things you can do is encourage your kids to learn, explore, and be skeptical.
That way, they can grow up smarter, more knowledgeable, and with much more developed critical thinking skills. When your kid asks you something, try to respond. If they want to tell you something, listen.
You may not always have the answer to questions they will ask throughout life, but encourage them to seek the answers and provide them with tools and guidance on how they can find the answers.
4. Help Your Kids Be More Active
Exposing your kids to various kinds of physical activity is one of the best things you can do for them. The truth is, it’s in our nature to move, explore, and be active. That’s how we feel good, stay healthy, and maintain a positive attitude. The issue is, with the gradual digitalization of our world, more and more kids lead sedentary lifestyles.
To avoid falling victim into this sedentary lifestyle, here are some rituals of physical activity that you can easily execute:
- Do easy stretches in the morning with the kids
- Go for quick walks around the block at lunch
- After work or school, sign them up for extracurricular activities that offer physical activities
- On the weekends, visit with friends and family at parks, playground and other locations where you can physically stay distant but still stay active while visiting
- Do low-cost or free family activities like riding a bike or play lawn sports at a park weather permitting
So, make it a point to have your kids move around every day and throughout the day to get in the habit of being physically active.
5. Put A Premium On Adequate Hydration And Healthy Nutrition
Exercise is vital for good health. But, aside from that, we also need to teach our kids how to take better care of their diet. This means that we should encourage healthy eating and proper hydration. We are what we eat and if they eat a lot of processed and junk food, soon enough, it will impact their appearance and lead to obesity and other negative health effects.
Include more fruits, veggies, lean meats, legumes, seeds, nuts, and seafood into their diet. Your diet should be well balanced and as much as possible, follow guidelines. Check out Canada’s Food Guide to help your family get on track to healthy eating.
If you live in a fast-paced, rat race kind of life, it’s often hard to have the time to cook a meal and we substitute our lack of time with fast food. Some quick tips to healthy eating choices:
- Have breakfast: It’s easy to skip but even a quick blended smoothie, cut-up fruits and yogurt are quick no fuss breakfast items
- Eat a nutritious filled lunch: Choose salads over sandwiches or burgers and fries
- Have lighter dinner: keep your dinner portions small but filled with protein like meats and seafood
- Drink lots of water: rehydrate your body throughout the day and choose water over other types of beverages like pop and sweetened juices
As you create these habits for yourself and your family, kids will adapt them and soon, it becomes the norm in their everyday lives. A healthy lifestyle is not always natural and it will take conscious effort and a series of good decisions and choices before we see any meaningful change but it will be worth it for you and your family.