Parents can help their children develop healthy habits early in life. This will bring lifelong benefits. As a parent, you can encourage your children to learn good habits that may include good social skills, good manners and also help them evaluate some of their food choices and physical activity habits. It takes time to acquire a habit, so parents need to be patient with their children. Repeating a behavior or action on a daily basis will help your child inculcate it more promptly.
Here are some tips and guidelines to get you started.
Be a Role Model
One of the best ways to develop good habits for children is by setting a good example yourselves. Your child learns by watching your everyday behaviors and habits. Hence it becomes important for you to exhibit the best so that he imbibes the same.
It’s never too early to start finding good habits for children. Encourage your child to use phrases like Thank you, You’re Welcome and Excuse Me. Teaching them these phrases at a young age will help them make them a part of their lifestyle.
Physical activity is more than just organized sports. It can include everyday activities like walking the dog, planting a garden, playing tag, building a snowman, and even household chores like sweeping or shoveling the driveway.
These days children spend a lot of time indoors in front of the television or playing video games. Children who are not active enough are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases. Encourage your child to stay physically active by letting them choose the activities they enjoy. This could be swimming, biking or just running outdoors. Staying physically active as a child will eventually become a part of them as they grow older.
Encourage Family Bonding
Family time is extremely important for a growing child. Plan times for everyone in the family to get moving together. Take walks, ride bikes, go swimming, garden or just play hide-and-seek outside. Everyone will benefit from the exercise and the time together.
Set Strong Ground Rules
As a parent, it is extremely important for you to set down rules for your children. Now is the time to make a routine and time table. Set out fixed hours for playtime, homework and screen time. Try to make a flexible routine and don’t be too strict while allocating time for study and play. Keep adequate time for playing as play helps in both physical and mental development.
Encourage A Healthy Diet
Probably the most important aspect of growing up is to encourage your child to make healthy food choices. Your child will adopt good habits if they start early. Educate your child about the importance of having a nutritious diet and encourage them to read food labels. The whole family will learn what is good for their health and will be more conscious of what they eat. It’s a habit that helps change behavior for a lifetime.
Reward Your Child
It is a great idea to reward your children for their good behavior. This will keep them motivated and will help them maintain their best behavior at all times. However, a key point to note here is to avoid rewarding your child with materialistic things like chocolates or an hour of TV. Find other ways to celebrate good behavior. Make the rewards intangible – a hug, a word of appreciation, etc.
You can reward your children with good experiences. This will help them learn that happiness lies in enriching experiences rather than worldly possessions.
No matter how busy you may be in your day to day work and chores, you must make it a point to be involved in your child’s life. Make sure you are updated about how their day was, the kind of friends they have, and how they are doing at school. It is a great idea to have a short chat with your children after they come back home from school – it will also keep you updated of your children’s emotional status.
Family dinners are an excellent way to inculcate the habit of healthy eating in your children. If the family sits together for dinner, your children are less likely to consume unhealthy foods and will be more in touch with the family. It also nurtures the feeling of bonding in them.
Be Realistic With Your Expectations
Encourage children to learn from their mistakes. Setting realistic goals and limits are key to adopting any new behavior. Small steps and gradual changes can make a big difference in your habits over time, so start small and build up. As parents you have to realize that all children learn at their own pace.
Children do not like to hear what they cannot do, so tell them what they can do instead. Keep it fun and positive. Everyone likes to be praised for a job well done. Celebrate successes and help children and teens develop a positive self-image in the process.