healthier lifestyle

As parents, one of our greatest desires is to see our children grow up healthy and happy. In today’s fast-paced world filled with distractions, it can sometimes be challenging to encourage healthier lifestyle habits. The good news is, children learn and imitate behaviors by watching and listening to others, meaning healthier lifestyle habits can be instilled through observational learning.

Healthier Lifestyle Habits

By taking a proactive approach and making small changes, parents can help set their children on a path to a healthier lifestyle. Here at HealthPark Pediatrics, we have complied seven simple ways to encourage your child to embrace a healthier way of living

1. Foster A Positive Relationship With Food

In today’s society, where fast food and processed snacks are readily available, it’s essential to teach children the importance of making healthy food choices. However, instead of focusing on restrictive diets or labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” focus on fostering a positive relationship with food.

2. Prioritize Mental And Emotional Well-being

In addition to physical health, it’s crucial to prioritize your child’s mental and emotional well-being. Help them develop healthy coping mechanisms for managing stress and emotions through self-soothing techniques or spending time in nature. Be mindful of your own stress levels and model healthy ways of managing stress and emotions.

3. Create A Supportive Environment

Create a supportive environment at home that promotes health and well-being. Stock your kitchen with nutritious foods and limit the presence of sugary and processed snacks. Set regular meal and snack times, and sit down together as a family to enjoy meals whenever possible.

4. Encourage Adequate Sleep And Bedtime Routines

Establish bedtime routines that prioritize getting enough sleep, and create a calm and relaxing environment to help your child unwind and prepare for sleep. Set limits on screen time and encourage activities that promote relaxation and connection, such as reading, playing board games, or spending time outdoors.

5. Use Positive And Encouraging Language

Using encouraging language with your children is essential for building their self-esteem, confidence, and motivation. Ensure you offer specific praise, focus on effort and progress, use positive reinforcement, and listen and validate their feelings and emotions. 

6. Reduce Sitting And Screen Time

Of course everyone needs to relax at some point, but it’s important to encourage your child to engage in physical activity throughout the day. Not only does it help build strong bones and muscles, it also reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression, along with mitigating the risk of developing health conditions. 

Similarly, reducing screen time should also be at top of mind when encouraging your child to adopt into a healthier lifestyle. Setting boundaries on how often your child is using technology can improve sleep habits, stimulate better focus, and lower the risk of anxiety and depression. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry suggests for children 2-5, limit non-educational screen time to about 1 hour per weekday and 3 hours on the weekend days. For ages 6 and older, encourage healthy habits and limit activities that include screens.

7. Encourage Problem-Solving

Instead of immediately providing solutions to your children’s problems, encourage them to find their own solutions. Ask open-ended questions that guide them towards finding answers. By teaching your child to solve their own problems from an early age, they will be able to discern right from wrong and feel empowered to make healthier lifestyle choices for themselves.

Contact Your Pediatrician 

As parents, it’s essential to support children in their journey to live a healthier lifestyle, from making healthy eating exciting to prioritizing physical activity and fostering positive body image. If you’re looking for guidance on ways to encourage a healthier lifestyle, be sure to contact us at 919-896-7066.