When it comes to the things your kids are interested in, their health probably isn’t at the top of the list — in fact, it probably falls somewhere after homework and eating vegetables. Even so, health is important and when children form good habits, they take them into adulthood. Luckily, with a bit of creativity, it will be easier to get your kids interested in healthy habits.
Turn Health Into a Game
Children love to play games, so why not turn their health into one? The simplest way to do this is to create a chart that includes healthy activities for them to complete. Some ideas include:
- 30 minutes of exercise per day
- Eating healthy meals
- Drinking water
- Brushing teeth
- Going to the doctor and dentist
Allow your children to earn points or stickers for each healthy activity they complete. While younger children are often happy enough to earn points, older children may need a little extra incentive. Consider adding a rewards program to let them earn special outings, new outfits, or new toys they have been asking for.
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Get Them Into Social Media
Hidden among the silly memes and celebrity updates of the internet is a vast amount of educational health information. Younger children can find information on websites such as PBS, which are geared to preschool- and elementary-age children. If you have older kids, consider letting them make a Twitter account. GW online created a list of Twitter accounts that share health information, including the American Health Association. Kids who are into science and technology will enjoy this account, which focuses on information about technology and new breakthroughs in the health industry.
Demonstrate Healthy Habits
As the old saying goes, “monkey sees, monkey do.” Young children often want to be just like Mommy and Daddy. When you exercise, eat fruits and vegetables, practice good dental hygiene, and go to the doctor regularly, your children will want to do the things you’re doing. By imitating you, they will begin to form their own healthy habits.
Let Them Help in the Kitchen
Children are more likely to eat a healthy meal if they see you prepare it and get to help create it themselves. Young children can pour pre-measured ingredients into bowls, help set the table, or choose vegetables to put into a salad. Older children can measure ingredients, cut vegetables, or cook simple meals on the stove. As you prepare meals, tell them how each ingredient helps to create a healthier body and mind.
Show Them How They Can Help Others
Teach your children that by being healthy for themselves, they can help others. Most kids realize from a young age that they can grow up to be a doctor or dentist, but you can also teach them about other jobs in the health industry, such as teaching people to eat healthily by being a nutritionist or even being a gym teacher. As kids get older and their interests develop more, you can help them learn how to help people with specific health issues, such as those who need respiratory therapy, which the University of Cincinnati has a program for.
Of course, not every option will work for every child. Think about what interests your children and incorporate those ideas into your own plans for nurturing an interest in health in your children.
Disclaimer: All images are provided by the author.