Maintaining your personal health is a lifelong challenge. Encouraging, and maintaining, your kid’s health is an entirely separate hurdle. Raising healthy kids adds a layer of difficulty, because health for children usually involves building good habits before anything else. Going to bed at a consistent time, waking up early, brushing teeth, finishing homework work on time, and being active are all habits that need to be ingrained in children at a young age to ensure lifelong health, happiness, and longevity.
However, introducing a set of rules and making children follow them often feels a bit authoritarian, and may even be counterproductive towards establishing these good habits for the long-term. What makes the task even more difficult is that children go through many stages during the first few years of their lives. Each of these stages are comprised of unique developmental needs that may lead to big changes in previously established habitual behaviors.
In order to be responsible caretakers, parents should aim to account for these developmental changes when trying to integrate healthy habits into the lives of children. Raising healthy and well-adjusted kids depends on how well we’re able to balance these considerations.
Plan Your Parental Role
Kids need different levels of care and reinforcement during different stages of their lives. It’s important to sketch out how active or passive of a role you want to take on based on your child’s age and personality. The same strategies that you use to reinforce good habits for a nine year old will differ drastically from the best strategies to use on a teenager.
However, many parents aren’t keen enough on the subject of keeping up with their child’s development for a variety of reasons. Often, developmental changes in children do not occur consistently, or by the book. The constantly changing and shifting nature of a child’s maturation makes it difficult for parents to know exactly when to adapt their strategies.
One way you can minimize the level of uncertainty is to follow a set of reliable guidelines that alert you to common developmental milestones and characteristics. The CDC breaks down parenting approaches from ages 0 to 17 in a relatively comprehensive set of eight stages. Being cognizant of where your child lies along this developmental spectrum and pursuing age appropriate methods to improve their health will lead to more successful outcomes.
Establish a Strict Set of Health Guidelines
Parents should hold an uncompromising stance towards upholding certain habits, including sleep. It’s absolutely imperative that parents start early in setting strict deadlines for bedtime for children because sleep has huge implications on brain plasticity and learning ability as well as on the overall future development and growth of a child.
In other words, children need to sleep well in order to be healthy in other aspects of their life. So, a good sleep schedule is the basis for a healthy lifestyle. Parents should ensure that their young children are asleep before 11 pm and receive an adequate amount of rest. Appropriate changes can be made as the child gets older and has more obligations to deal with.
Apart from sleep, exercise and proper nutrition are also two important habits to instill in your children to promote healthy lifestyle outcomes. Nutrition for children is much more complex than simply treating children as “smaller adults.” The U.S. government offers some important pointers on selecting ideal amounts from each food group to ensure that the nutritional intake of children is appropriate for their development.
The last big guideline to follow is making sure that your child engages in some form of physical activity. Participating in an individual sport like swimming or a team sport like soccer can teach your child a lot about how to set goals and strive towards them.
Teach Your Children The Importance of Great Hygiene
Hygiene plays a huge role in maintaining health and a clear state of mind. You should drill things such as brushing teeth, flossing, showering, clipping nails, cleaning hair, and maintaining an organized workspace into your child’s daily routine from a young age. It’s important to sit down, communicate, and reiterate to your children how small habits that improve personal hygiene and workspace cleanliness have a big impact on lifestyle and mental wellbeing.
You can set a positive example by prioritizing the maintenance of a clean house within your family’s day-to-day routine. Vacuuming around the house every weekend, doing the dishes, and keeping up with the laundry should be non-negotiable chores that everyone in the family participates in on a weekly basis. By demonstrating the importance of these habits by performing them regularly, it’s more likely that your child will pick up on them, as well.