Happy New Year! Hopefully by now you have recovered from the holidays and are ready to start 2015 off with a bang! Anytime you hear about the New Year it is almost inevitable that you will hear something about New Year’s Resolutions. Television and magazines are full of articles and reports about losing weight, quitting smoking or having a new attitude about money. All of these things are great, but we want to encourage you to include something else this year. Make a promise to yourself to help your children establish healthy habits too. Now, your little one may be a bit small to be making resolutions, but it is never to early to help set the standard for them.
Early childhood is a time when habits can be formed that can affect them for the rest of their lives. As their parents, it is our responsibility to teach children how to lead healthy lives. We can do everything for them for only a little while. So what are some lessons that we can teach our preschoolers about being healthy? Sometimes it feels like kids this age always have some kind of cold or bug going around. This is a great time to teach about washing your hands. If you wash correctly, you can reduce the number of cold, flu and other infections by around 50%! That’s a lot of runny noses and coughs! Teach your kids to wash hands several times a day but especially before eating, and after playing outside, sneezing or coughing and especially after going potty. Another easy way to keep germs at bay is to show kids how to cover their mouth when they cough and to sneeze into their elbow. 80% of germs are transferred by touch when they have been spewed out into the air.
Let’s talk about food for a minute. I have yet to meet a child this age who isn’t somewhat of a picky eater. It is hard to get children to eat healthy when all they want is chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese! Plan your dinners out in advance. Many times the question of “what’s for dinner?” can lead to less than nutritious last-minute meals. Planning them out can take lots of stress off us parents. Make sure that you don’t forget about breakfast. That helps set the tone for our whole day. You can’t expect your kids to make it through their day on an empty tank. Your kid won’t touch veggies? Experiment with different dips. Dressing, hummus or salsa can make plain vegetables much more interesting. Cut back on the amount of junk food in your home. You are in charge of what kinds of food come into your house. If you don’t want your kids to eat it, don’t buy it!
It may seem like at this age that our little ones never slow down. However, we still need to show them the importance of being physically active. Television isn’t a bad thing, in moderation. The last thing you want is a preschool couch potato! Limit the amount of tv your kids are watching and encourage them to play. Regular exercise leads to strong muscles and bones, better sleep patterns and helps to manage weight. Introduce them to a variety of different activities so they can find a favorite. It will be much harder to get them moving when they are older if you don’t do it now.
These are only a couple of the many ways we can teach our children to set healthy habits in their life. Above all, be a positive role model for your child. You can’t expect them to try things that you aren’t willing to do yourself! Don’t be a hypocrite. Your kids will notice if you are being physically active and what you are eating. They want to be just like you.
Be watching out later this month for our next parent email. We will share more tips for kicking off the New Year in a healthy way!