Simple ways to encourage children to develop healthy habits

St-Clements-CE-Primary-School-M11-1LR-3-640x640As adults we are encouraged to lead healthy lifestyles as it will improve our physical and mental wellbeing, not to mention provide us with more energy, a better immune system and an overall higher quality of life. While healthy habits can be difficult to adopt later in life, childhood is the ideal time to instil habits that will lead to a lifelong healthy lifestyle.

Encouraging children to adopt healthy habits doesn’t mean that they will have to go without their favourite treats or worry about their weight, instead there are much more simple and healthy ways of encouraging children to lead healthy and happy lifestyles.

Lead by example

One of the easiest ways for adults to encourage children to lead healthy lifestyles is by leading healthy lifestyles themselves. Children learn by what those around them are doing, so if they see the adults around them eating healthily and being active they are more likely to adopt these habits themselves.

Encourage outdoor play

A key to leading a healthy lifestyle is getting enough exercise. While for adults this can be chore, children are often much more naturally active. Playtime is a key way to encourage children to be active outdoors and often it leads to them getting plenty of exercise without them even realising it. Sports is another way of encouraging children to be active and can lead to a lifelong enjoyment of exercise. As some children are not naturally good at sports this can result in them not wanting to participate in school sport activities, however encouraging them to try different sports during weekends and afterschool in a relaxed, friendly and non-competitive environment will help them to appreciate the enjoyment of sports for its own sake and not just to win medals, games or awards.

A well-balanced diet

A healthy diet isn’t just one that is full of fruit and vegetables, lean protein and healthy carbs. Instead a well-balanced diet is one that provides the body and mind with all the nutrients they need. This means that while it is important to limit snacks and meals high in sugar and unhealthy fats, these can still be included in a well-balanced diet. What is important is to start teaching children that they should eat in moderation and to learn when they are full up and only eating out of habit or boredom and not hunger. Learning to cook is another lifelong skill that can be started in childhood and which will lead to a healthier diet throughout their lives. Encouraging children to participate in cooking, even if it is just stirring the ingredients in a bowl, will make the idea of cooking from scratch a lot more natural and part of everyday life.

Mental wellbeing  

Along with lots of exercise and a healthy diet, mental wellbeing is the third main factor to leading a healthy lifestyle. While children won’t have the stress or anxiety that many adults face, it is important that children feel secure, loved and develop good relationships with their family and school friends in order to lead happy and fulfilled lives. This can be achieved through encouraging children to play together during playtime, through them joining clubs outside of school and spending time together as a family.

With the UK’s obesity rate both in children and adults still a concern for health and educational professionals encouraging children to adopt healthy habits at a young age will not only benefit them now, but also help them to lead healthier lives once they become adults.