10 Ways to Be a Healthy Role Model for Your Kids
Encourage your kids to develop lifelong healthy habits by example.
As a parent or caregiver, you are your kids’ biggest role model. Naturally, this means your lifestyle habits will have a profound impact on how your kids grow and develop their own habits over time.
Parents can guide their kids in a number of ways, but showing your kids how to live a healthy lifestyle will always be more effective than telling them what to do. Kids are masters of mimicry and this type of positive “leading by example” approach prompts them to copy your healthy habits without nagging or resistance.
Here are 10 things you can do to show your kids what it means to live a healthy lifestyle.
1. Make water your go-to beverage and show your kids how they can have fun with it.
Show your kids how important water is by making it your staple beverage. Drink water throughout the day and carry a fun water bottle with you. During most meals try to drink water instead of a soda or other beverage. You can also try fruit and mint leaf infusions to pique your kids’ interest.
2. When you’re in the mood for a snack, grab a healthy option like fresh fruit or carrot sticks.
Stock your fridge or pantry with healthy kid-friendly snack options. When you’re craving something small to eat, instead of grabbing a candy bar or can of soda, make a quick fruit salad or prepare some veggie sticks instead. Kids, especially toddlers to pre-k, will want to share what you’re eating without any prompting on your part.
3. When you’re in the mood for something sweet, make a tasty smoothie instead of a dessert.
Sweet cravings are inevitable, but they give you a chance to show your kids how to deal with their sweet tooth in a healthier manner.
Rather than having a traditional dessert after dinner or as a snack, start making fruit smoothies instead. Not only do fruit smoothies satisfy sugar cravings, but they also help your family get in their recommended daily servings of fruit. Not to mention you can all have a ton of fun experimenting with different smoothie recipes!
4. Mix up vegetable side dishes often and ask your kids what they might like to try.
When you’re planning out family meals, try to include a couple of different options for vegetable-based side dishes. For example, maybe roasted asparagus and roasted broccoli rather than just one or the other.
Ask your kids for their opinion on what vegetable they might want as well. Including kids in picking out a vegetable shows them they have control over what healthy foods they can have rather than feeling forced.
For more tips on healthy eating habits read this post.
5. Rather than rewarding yourself with candy, show your kids that non-food rewards are just as exciting.
Showing your kids that non-food rewards are just as fulfilling as a food reward is a great way to help them make healthy choices when they want to reward themselves in the future.
For example, if it’s family cleaning day you might tell your kids that when all the chores are done you can all celebrate with family playtime or reading a new book together rather than pizza or sweets.
6. Let your kids see you be diligent in flossing, brushing, and using mouthwash twice a day.
Oral health and overall health are directly connected. Ensuring your kids are properly brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash twice a day is excellent insurance against future tooth decay. But sometimes getting kids to follow through is tricky.
Rather than telling them to brush, you can all take care of your teeth together in the morning and before bed. This gives them a chance to see how you, their parent, take oral health seriously and it gives you a chance to make sure they’re using proper brushing techniques.
7. Practice self-care often and talk to your kids about why it’s important to relax when you feel stressed.
Regularly practicing self-care and stress relief techniques is important for people of all ages. Even though kids may have fewer responsibilities, they can experience side-effects just as severely as adults. By showing your kids how to manage stress and take care of their mental health, you’re helping give them the tools they need to better cope as they get older and new stress triggers occur in their lives.
8. Stay active daily and invite your kids to work out or exercise with you whenever you can.
The American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week with kids ages 6 to 17 getting around an hour of exercise per day. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean working out but rather staying physically active.
Make an effort to exercise in some way on a daily basis, and encourage your kids to exercise with you if they show an interest. You might even try out some family-friendly workout routines.
9. Set down your phone while you’re eating to show your kids that screens should be put away at mealtime.
Watching TV or scrolling through your phone while eating can easily lead to overeating, as this study shows. Looking at phones during meals might also be considered bad manners by some families. By showing your kids that you keep your phone away from the table during meals and don’t watch TV while eating, you’re helping them develop this new habit. It also makes family mealtimes much more intimate and rewarding.
10. Spend more time outdoors, even if it’s only a five-minute break to breathe in the fresh air and get some sun.
Spending time outside has a number of health benefits, including boosting the immune system, reducing anxiety, and encouraging more exercise. Normalize going outside often by taking more walks, sitting on the patio while eating, or simply take a break by going outside rather than just sitting on the couch. Your kids will pick up on this and soon enough will be asking you to go outside with them.
The key to your kids developing lifelong healthy lifestyle habits starts with you.
By adopting these healthy habits you’re not only going to show your kids firsthand how to lead a balanced life, but you’ll also reap the personal rewards that come with eating a healthier diet, exercising often, and taking the time for self-care.
If you’re just beginning to change your family’s diet and daily routine, take it slow and be patient. The trick isn’t to make huge changes all at once, but rather make small but consistent efforts on a daily basis.