It is never too early for you to get your kids into a healthy lifestyle. Children have a lot of energy and as a parent, it is your role to help ensure they use up that energy every day. Some tips for raising a healthy, happy child:
- The earlier you introduce fruit and vegetables into their daily routine the less likely you are to have a fussy eater. Don’t pass on your own food prejudices onto your kids – encourage them to taste everything and try everything. And remember just because they don’t like the taste of things at two years of age doesn’t mean they won’t like it when they are three or four or five.
- Of course kids should have a sweet treat, but remember they should be just that, a treat. Sweets, chocolate and bars should not be a daily occurrence, especially for toddlers. Treats can just as easily be fresh fruit, raisins or fruit yoghurts (that are low in sugar). You can teach your toddler what a treat is, and that doesn’t always have to be a sugary treat.
- Good behaviour should be rewarded with positive reinforcement and not sweet treats. If you are doing a star chart with your child, the end reward should be an activity together – something fun that you will do together and that you will both enjoy.
- Know what your child is eating. If you are buying processed foods for your toddler know what the ingredients are. Many processed foods are high in sugar, salt or saturated fats – none of these are good for young children.
- Make a trip to the supermarket an adventure – think about the fruit and vegetable aisle from the perspective of a toddler. All those colours and shapes will be attractive to them. Talk to them about food and bring home something new to try every week. As long as a child is in a buggy or trolley you can also avoid the sweets aisle – remember they learn pester power at a very early age.
- Involve your kids in cooking. Help them to understand that time spent cooking helps to create yummy food that they will enjoy.
- If they don’t like the texture of fruit or vegetables then make your own sauces. Load them full of fresh fruit and vegetables and whizz them up to a smooth consistency that you can put on pasta or with chicken or potatoes.
- Get them used to exercise – a lively trip the playground, kicking a football in the garden, playing chasing. On a wet day run races up and down the corridor or play chasing around the couch. Teach them to swim, dance or other activities that involve jumping around and being active. Kids who are active have better concentration and sleep better at night because both their bodies and their brains are tired.
- If your child is an only child, set up play dates with other kids. This will encourage them to try new things, to play new games and to learn how to share and interact with others. This is a very important lesson for when they go to school. It is also very important for you as a parent to get out and spend time with other adults and break the cycle of being stuck at home.
- And finally, both kids and clothes are washable. Allow your kids to get dirty when they are playing. Put on their wellies and let them jump in puddles (wait until you hear them laughing).
- Exercise should be a daily part of family life.
- Get them involved in team sports. Team sports not only get them fit and healthy but also teach them structure, discipline, team work and fun while making new friends.
- If it’s raining, set up games indoors or take them to indoor play areas. Remember, children and clothes can be washed…kids love playing in the rain.
- Let them try as many as possible.
- Take an interest in the sport they play.
- Don’t give them or let them create excuses to not take part. People with severe disabilities and without limbs exercise every day.
- Make time for exercise yourself. Sometimes it seems like there are never enough hours in the day but we need to prioritise exercise. Plus you’ll never regret getting up and exercising!
- It is also important for your children to see you exercise (or to know that you make time to exercise). If they exercise as kids and they see you enjoying and making time for exercise as an adult, they will learn that it is part of a lifelong habit. It helps to clear your head. It helps you to de-stress. It releases endorphins – the happy hormones. And it keeps you fit and healthy. A great result!
- They will also learn that time for mum and dad need time for themselves also!
Check out www.safefood.eu - For some really important information and tips to keep your kids healthy!