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Ways to get your child involved in a healthy lifestyle

Did you know that you are the greatest influence on your child?


You are the most important influence on your child. You can do many things to help them develop healthy habits for life. Engaging with your child and being the person you hope they will become is a great way to positively affect their development and behaviors. Telling your kids what to do doesn’t have the same impact. They need to see you making healthy choices, too! A study by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation found that parents outrank sports celebrities, as the person their child “would like to be like most.” 

Here are some ways to get your child involved in your healthy lifestyle!

Physical Health: You can include your child in meal planning, grocery shopping, and food prep. Food prep is an excellent opportunity to get creative with your child. Cut food into fun and easy shapes with cookie cutters. Name a food your child helps make such as “Jackie’s Sweet Potatoes.” Encourage your child to invent new snacks. Make your own trail mixes from dry whole-grain, low-sugar cereal and dried fruit or let your child build their own salad.

Prepare healthy snacks ahead of time. Cut up fruit and vegetables to “grab and go”. Refrain from buying junk food and lead by example. Try new foods yourself and describe the taste, texture, and smell. Let your child see that you like to munch on raw vegetables. 

Garden together! Patio or container gardening is an option if space is lacking. Some children that are picky eaters will experiment with plucking fruits or vegetables straight from the garden and giving it a taste before they will try it from their plate at the table. Especially, if they helped grow it! 

Make physical activity fun for the whole family and incorporate it into your daily routine. Involve your child in the planning. Walk, run, and play with your child, instead of sitting on the sidelines. Set an example by being physically active and using safety gear, like bike helmets. Play games in the yard, go on hikes, and just get outside. Playing ball with your child or involving them in sports not only helps instill a healthy lifestyle, but it also helps develop coordination and important social skills they can’t learn by sitting in front of a television.

Emotional Health: You play an integral role in fostering your child’s social-emotional health. You can get your child involved in keeping their mind healthy by encouraging them to learn about and practice emotional regulation. Emotional regulation is an awareness and understanding of one’s emotions and their impact on behavior, and the ability to manage those emotions in a positive way. It is a skill that children need to be taught and practice. Emotional regulation is important because it helps prevent depression, aggression, and other emotional states or behaviors that could be unhealthy or harmful. 

Learning to regulate emotions is a lifelong journey. You can involve your child by asking them to help you come up with ways they can manage their emotions in situations where they might feel out of control and by allowing them to choose outlets for physical and emotional energy such as exercise, creative activities, or hobbies. 

At the end of the day, nothing can replace your work as a parent. Model healthy habits, including emotional regulation, and practice repair if your emotions get out of control. 

Ask your healthcare provider for information on individualized diet and exercise guidance or behavioral health counseling if needed!

By: Jordan Ryley, FNP


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