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Helping Your Kids Make Healthy Choices

By: Amanda Henderson

When it comes to your child’s health, you might think that diet and exercise are the main focus. However, every child has different needs, and it’s important to make sure you’re helping them make good decisions so that their mental and emotional health are taken care of as well. Making healthy choices is important at every age, because it helps shape our ability to grow into health-conscious adults.

Fortunately, there are many ways you can help your child make good decisions regarding their bodies and minds. Providing lots of healthy foods, encouraging daily exercise, limiting stress, and keeping open communication about the dangers of drugs and alcohol can be hugely beneficial for your child as he learns how to make healthy choices part of his everyday life.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to get started.

 

Create a Stress-Free Environment

One of the keys to helping your child feel happy and in control is creating a stress-free environment where he can relax and concentrate on schoolwork without distraction. Removing clutter can go a long way -- messy spaces can be detrimental to our mental health and keep us from focusing on the job at hand -- but it’s also important to get organized so things will go smoothly.

In addition, to creating a stress-free environment be sure to eliminate the potential for any issues by locking up grown-up items like medications, guns, cleaning products, alcohol, hazardous chemicals or anything else that might pose a danger.

 

Provide Healthy Meals and Snacks

Eating well has many benefits; not only does it help prevent obesity and disease, it can also boost self-confidence and energy levels and will teach your child the importance of making healthy choices. Talk about where our food comes from with your younger children, and consider starting a small garden so they can get some hands-on experience with growing things they like to eat. Provide healthy snacks -- such as nuts, string cheese, yogurt, and fruit -- and make them easily accessible so the kids can just grab them and go. Once they get used to making those items part of their daily lives, the choice between those and junk food will be much easier to make.

 

Fit in a Workout, No Matter How Small

Encouraging your child to be active will help him learn the importance of treating his body well. You don’t have to impose a half-hour workout on him every day; instead, make it fun, such as starting up a game of kickball in the backyard, or parking at the back of the lot when you go grocery shopping and counting your steps to see how many it takes to get to the store. Fitting in a workout, no matter how small, will show your child how important it is to stay active, and making it fun will help him want to stick with it.

 

Read a Little

Learning starts early with children, and the more you read to them -- and encourage them to read themselves -- the better chance they’ll have of developing crucial social, communication, and literacy skills. Taking time to read a little every day will help your child immensely, and it will allow for some bonding time between the two of you. The Cleveland Clinic has some great information on how reading can help your child.

Teaching your child how to make healthy choices will allow them to take good care of their bodies and minds well into adulthood, so lead by example: eat well-balanced meals, exercise daily (as a family, if possible), and keep communication open about the benefits of making good choices. Encouraging your child to talk about his needs and feelings is a great way to start helping him down the right path.