Parents who practice regular healthy habits will likely produce kids and teens that do the same. Kids and teens are observant creatures. They are much more likely to follow their parents’ lead than do what they say. Setting an example and being a good role model is probably the most crucial facet of being a parent. Diet, exercise, and sleep are forms of self-respect that are passed down to younger generations. If parents prioritize these health aspects for themselves, they will produce healthier, kinder, happier children.
Consuming and having healthy food around the home is vital for developing a child and teen. If the adult figures in the house have healthy eating habits, so will their kids. What do healthy eating habits look like? Eating home-cooked meals at a table, avoiding ultra-processed snacks around the clock, mainly drinking water, and properly packing lunch for school and meals for road trips.
When it comes to food and drinks, it is really about preparation. Having three go-to meals a week that everyone can agree on can be a lifesaver and reduce stress and planning time. The meals should prioritize protein and healthy fats, macronutrients that are extremely important for a growing child or teen. Focus on getting a majority of carbohydrates from fruit and vegetables, not drinks, candy, or packaged foods.
Is there anything more visual from a health and wellness standpoint than a child seeing their parent or guardian move, exercise, or play? Children’s curiosity naturally takes over, and they want to do what their parent(s) are doing. When a child or teenager sees their mom working out in the living room, their dad playing soccer, or their grandparents going for a walk, they will want to do the same. The same can be said for a sedentary lifestyle when there is a lack of movement, play, and exercise in a child’s home environment. A child’s realm of movement possibilities becomes limited, and they are not exposed to exercise or the options and varieties that one can move their body.
Movement Habits for the family
- Set up a home gym. This could range from a small space with an exercise mat to an extravagant setup in the garage.
- Make a family walk part of your daily routine
- Take a trip to the local park
- Play a sport together
- Teach them basic bodyweight exercises (squats, pushups, pullups)
- Do family movement challenges. You can track via technology or paper and pencil.
Sleep is vital for a young and developing child and teen. One of the best indicators of a child’s sleep quality and quantity is the parent’s quality and quantity of sleep. When adults in the household prioritize sleep, the children follow suit. Families who have efficient wind-down and bedtime routines get more sleep. Creating calming and low-stress family activities beginning at least ninety minutes before bed sets the manner and significance the family places on sleep.
Sleep Habits for the family
- Finish dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime
- Complete homework and work 2 hours before bed
- Shower or baths finished 1 hour before bed
- Wind down family activity 1 hour before bed (reading, playing board games, watching a tv show, talking, having a light snack)
- Turn off all electronics 30 minutes before bed (parents too!)
- Stick to bed and wake routines as best as possible, seven days a week
Understanding that every day will not be perfect and life does happen is essential to making most healthy family habits stick. Depending on where you and your family are on the healthy journey, it’s important to note that it is a journey, not a destination. If you and the family are starting to create and develop healthy habits, kudos to you. If you and the family are on the right path, keep it up! Because healthy people are simply those with healthy habits.