As a parent, you know that forging good habits is a crucial part of raising healthy, happy kids. But we already spend so much time obsessing over everything in our kids’ lives — sports, school, playdates, birthday parties, breakfast, lunch and dinner — it can be hard to think about one more thing. Still, getting your youngsters to adopt healthy habits can make all the difference in their lives, and it’s something you should try your best to prioritize. Here are some healthy habits to start teaching your kids today so they grow into happy, healthy adults.
- Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day — Getting your little ones to brush their teeth can be nearly impossible in a certain age range, but it’s crucial for their overall health and wellness. Try switching up your bedtime routine with an interactive toothbrush for kids to get them excited about brushing. Mom hack: Use a hands-free toothbrush yourself while you’re helping your little ones brush their teeth.
- Floss Your Teeth Every Day — As an adult, you know that flossing is a huge component of a good oral hygiene routine. The American Dental Association (ADA) says flossing removes plaque that leads to cavities and gum disease, and there are now evident links between poor oral health and cardiovascular problems later in life, so it’s not something you want to gloss over.
- Wash Your Hands Routinely — We know now more than ever that routine hand-washing is vital to stopping the spread of germs each day. Teach kids to wash their hands after using the bathroom, before eating and after they get home.
- Help People in Need — Helping those in need is as important to society as it is to the self, as it can forge feelings of self-confidence and gratitude. Exposing kids to volunteer experiences, such as working in a soup kitchen or raising money for a special cause, can help them understand the world around them.
- Go to Sleep at the Same Time Every Day — We know now more than ever that good sleep hygiene is fundamental to good health, and an important part of that is going to bed at the same time every night in a good sleep environment.
- Find Ways to Enjoy Exercising — It’s not enough to force your kids to get their exercise. You have to help them discover ways to enjoy it, too. The fact is that nobody sticks to things they hate, but if you can find a way to make it fun, it’ll have a much greater effect. Sports, yoga, swimming, hiking, walking the dog, interactive gaming — these are all valid ways to help kids enjoy exercise.
- Spend Time Outdoors — In the same vein, spending time outdoors can help kids get exercise and enjoy the fresh air. Hiking, biking and camping are all great activities for introducing youngsters to the outdoors life. They can also illustrate important and potentially lifesaving survival concepts.
- Do Chores Routinely — Chores are essential to creating a clean, healthy environment. On top of that, they can help kids feel competent and, in turn, can cause them to feel more appreciative of the things in their life.
- Check in with Your Emotions — Emotional well-being is just as important as physical well-being, and that is sometimes overlooked. Talk to your kids about their emotions and remind them that it’s OK to feel angry, sad or hurt.
- Sit Down to Eat — We all occasionally eat on the go — hey, who says a bagel in the car on the way to school doesn’t count as breakfast? But family mealtime is important, as it can help prevent obesity and provide kids with an opportunity to engage in conversation and reconnect with their parents and siblings.
- Spend Time with Friends — Maintaining friendships is an important part of life, and yet we rarely spend time talking to our kids about how to do it. Spending time with friends can help boost feelings of belonging, happiness and confidence, so it’s especially vital for adolescents and teenagers.
- Wear Clean Clothes — Kids need to know that their clothes can cause people to form opinions of them in a split second, for better or for worse. One of the key things to teach them is to wear clean, fresh clothes each day.
- Don’t Forget to Stretch — We often emphasize cardio and aerobic exercise for youngsters, but they also need to learn how to properly stretch. This will help them build muscles and prevent injuries as they get older.
- Wear Your Seatbelt — Telling your kids to buckle up is considered second nature for most parents, but it’s worth a little extra emphasis, especially when you’ve got teenagers in the car who will soon be driving themselves.
- Learn How to Meditate — Meditation is a surprisingly useful coping tool for kids, as it can help them enjoy better sleep, reduced anxiety, reduced stress levels and better focus at school. These are benefits that kids can carry into adulthood to help them build stable, happy lives.
- Don’t Skip Checkups — Keeping your kids on a routine checkup schedule not only helps ensure that their health is well-monitored, but it also helps them get comfortable at the doctor’s and dentist’s offices. A feeling of peace in these environments is something they will carry with them for a lifetime. Another thing to consider: Today, kids have electronic health records that stay with them for their entire lives, so routine checkups can provide crucial information that they can reference later.
It’s All About Routine
It’s all about routine. Can you tell? The best thing you can do as a parent is to follow a well-rounded routine each day yourself. And it’s not just about brushing your teeth and washing your hands, though those things matter a whole lot, too. It’s also about taking care of your mental and emotional well-being along the way. Investing in self-care for the self translates to modeling self-care for your kids, and that’s priceless!