Healthy Habits for Happy Kids: New Year’s Resolutions for Physical and Mental Well-Being

Kids can build healthy habits too.

As much as we try to shield our kids from unhealthy habits, they often fall into less-than-ideal routines. In fact, studies have found that more than half of older children and teenagers exceeded daily screen time recommendations, with many also indulging in unhealthy diets.

This isn’t just a problem for teens; these patterns can emerge as early as the toddler years. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With some simple changes, we can guide our youngsters toward a healthier New Year that will promote both their physical and mental well-being.

Consider these New Year’s resolutions for kids.

When a fresh year is approaching, it’s a great time to encourage our kids to set goals for their physical and mental well-being. But not just any goals—let’s talk about SMART goals. These are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It might sound a bit grown-up, but trust us—even children can create resolutions that are attainable and age-appropriate.

So, what should these resolutions be about? How about starting with the basics? We’re talking about physical activity, healthier eating, less screen time, finding moments for relaxation, and, of course, maintaining excellent oral hygiene.

Now, let’s explore each of these resolutions and how to make them SMART for your child’s best interests.

1. Healthy Habits That Keep You Physically Fit and Having Fun

We’re not here to be the screen-time police, but let’s face it, kids these days are spending more hours with screens than we’d like. That’s why, among their New Year’s resolutions, we can gently slide in the importance of physical activity.

Regular exercise is like a magic potion for kids. It helps improve cardiorespiratory fitness, builds strong bones and muscles, controls weight, and even fights off those sneaky anxiety and depression symptoms. Plus, it’s a shield against the adult-sized monsters like heart disease.

Now, how much playtime do they need? Well, it depends on their age. The little ones (ages 3-5) should be up and about frequently throughout the day, with adult caregivers encouraging play and participating when they can, so children can also actively learn as they play. The older kids (ages 6-17) need about 60 minutes of activity daily. This probably sounds like a lot, but worry not; your child may already be hitting those goals.

2. Choosing Healthy Foods for Strong Bodies

Balancing their plates with a rainbow of healthy foods is a simple and super powerful New Year’s resolution for kids—and parents, too. Think about fruits, veggies, and whole grains—they’re the superheroes of nutrition.

But let’s not forget about protein! It’s like the building blocks for your child’s growing muscles. Fish, chicken, beans, lentils, eggs, chickpeas, tofu, and nuts are all part of the lean protein dream team. Not only do they help with muscle development, but they bring essential vitamins and minerals to the table, such as zinc, iron, vitamin B12, and those brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.

And when it comes to oral health, dairy is the real MVP. Replacing sugar-laden foods with other options like yogurt and cheeses, crunchy carrots and celery, leafy greens, apples, and even black and green teas can help keep those teeth strong and healthy.

Here’s a handy list of healthy foods for your child’s teeth.

  • Yogurt and cheeses
  • Carrots, celery, and leafy greens
  • Apples
  • Black and green teas
  • Lean proteins
  • Nuts

3. Balancing Screen Time

In this tech-savvy age, it’s no surprise that kids and teens are glued to screens—from smartphones to gaming consoles. The numbers don’t lie, with many spending hours each day in the digital world. But while screens can educate and entertain, too much screen time can lead to a heap of issues.

Parents might not always know what their young ones are exposed to, from violence and risky behavior to misleading information and cyberbullies. Excessive screen time can even lead to sleep problems, lower grades, weight issues, and less time spent outdoors. So, it’s wise to strike a balance and ensure your child enjoys the real world too.

4. Teaching Kids about Practices for Calm and Focus

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s vital to teach kids practices that foster calm and focus. Simple mindfulness exercises can go a long way to promoting relaxation and stress reduction. More importantly, help your child understand the close link between mental and physical health.

Challenges like ADHD, anxiety, trauma, or learning disorders can hinder focus. To make it fun, try relaxation techniques like the “flower and candle,” “lemon,” or the “lazy cat exercise.” Check out this Save the Children’s article for more playful relaxation ideas your child will love!

5. Prioritizing Sleep

For kids, sleep isn’t just a luxury; it’s a necessity. Children need more sleep than adults because they’re in the crucial phase of growing and developing. Healthy sleep patterns play a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of obesity and other physical health issues.

The amount of sleep a child needs varies by age, ensuring their physical and mental development. While every child is unique, experts recommend specific sleep durations, including naps for children up to five years old.

Oral Health Resolutions for Kids

A gleaming smile is within reach for your child with these SMART oral health resolutions.

  • Brushing Like a Pro: Ensure your child brushes their teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Make it a routine with a set time, and watch those pearly whites shine.
  • Flossing for the Win: Introduce daily flossing into their routine. It’s the secret weapon against those sneaky food particles hiding between teeth.
  • Trimming Screen Time: Reduce daily screen time by one hour, replacing it with physical activity or imaginative playtime. Aim for no more than one hour of screen time after school or on weekends.

These resolutions will set your child on the path to oral health and overall well-being in the New Year!

New Year’s Resolutions for Kids: A Recipe for a Healthy and Happy Year

Instilling healthy habits in children is the key to their physical and mental well-being. As we venture into the New Year, let’s not just make resolutions but also make them SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Encouraging your little ones to balance screen time, embrace oral health habits starting from an early age, prioritize sleep, and stay active and mindful can prevent tooth decay and promote a happier, healthier year. Remember, a pediatric dentist near Omaha can be your ally in this journey toward cultivating these all-important healthy habits.

Is your child overdue for their dental cleaning? Schedule an appointment today.