Good health is a great foundation upon which to build a great life. The press is filled with scary news about how our children are obese and unhealthy. So as a parent what can you do to help your kids learn about how to be healthy? One important part of child development is instilling knowledge and good habits around eating and exercise. What kids learn about health when they are young will help them throughout their whole life.
Eating well is a key part of good health. If you think back to what you regularly ate as a child you’ll probably find that’s pretty much what you’re eating today. At a presentation I gave on teaching kids health one mother said “my husband still takes peanut butter and honey sandwiches to work every day…he was a fussy eater and that’s what he ate as a child”. If what your child eats as a child plays a big part in what he or she will eat as an adult, it is so important to take a good look at what you’re mainly feeding your children right now. Are they basically eating a balanced diet with items from each of the five food groups or do they mainly eat processed, fatty and sugary foods? Do you talk to your children about nutrition explaining what’s good for the body like fresh fruits and vegetables and what’s not so good like sweets, processed biscuits and cakes? This can be a great support!
To be healthy kids also need to exercise. Being fit improves both their physical as well as their mental health and of course, it’s FUN too! Parents can encourage their children to be active by helping them understand the benefits of fitness but most importantly parents need to create the opportunities for their kids to exercise. Team sports are a great way to do this.
I recently read a great blog written by Agata Mrva-Montoya, at Sydney publishing that “the development of local sports clubs and junior teams is vital to the future of team sport, and it is beneficial to the wellbeing of young players, far beyond the obvious issues of health and fitness. Long-term participation in sport and club membership enables children to learn the ideas of fair play and teamwork. They also develop self-motivation and a sense of belonging to a community. At the same time, they can have fun and meet new friends, which according to Richard Light, the author of Sport in the lives of young Australians, are the most important reasons for joining a sporting club and ongoing participation”.
So what can you do to support positive behavior development around health and well being for your kids? Eat a ‘mainly’ healthy diet at home (but sweets and treats are great sometimes), share nutrition tips when he opportunities arise, encourage outdoor exercise activities and maybe even get your kids involved in a team sport…the many benefits make it worth the time