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Key Takeaways:

  • Healthy habits are important for physical, emotional, and mental health. Children who practice healthy habits are more focused and less likely to develop diseases.
  • Good habits to develop include eating balanced meals, getting enough sleep, exercising, limiting screen time, and engaging in positive social interactions.
  • Parents can encourage healthy habits in children by modeling good manners, gratitude, and self-care.

Being healthy goes beyond diet and exercise. A holistic approach to your child’s overall well-being is essential to their physical, emotional, and mental health. Practicing healthy habits for kids at home, with friends, and in school is the key to a happy and fulfilled child.

This article will explore ten healthy habits for kids and how parents and caregivers can provide the appropriate support.

The Importance of Teaching Healthy Habits in Children

Introducing healthy habits early on is crucial to your child’s long-term well-being. Children who eat well, get enough sleep, and engage in regular physical activity are resilient and self-confident. They are in tune with their physical and mental needs.

Adopting healthy physical habits like consuming balanced meals and getting exercise also prevents chronic diseases [*]. Children who develop healthy habits at a young age are more likely to make healthy choices when they’re older, preventing them from becoming obese or ill. In addition, health-conscious children are more likely to develop high self-esteem and a positive body image.

Healthy children are also more focused and concentrated, improving academic performance and setting the scene for a successful professional life [*].

10 Healthy Habits for Kids

Could your child’s lifestyle use a revamp? Here are ten healthy habits for kids you can practice at home.

1. Balanced diet

Getting a child to scarf down a plate of vegetables is no easy feat, but their bodies will thank you in the long run. When getting your little ones used to leafy greens, be patient.

Find creative ways to introduce the benefits of healthy eating. For instance, you can make a game out of trying fruits and vegetables of every color of the rainbow. You can also involve your child in the kitchen and attempt fun recipes like broccoli casserole and mashed sweet potatoes.

Don’t skimp on the benefits of drinking enough water either! Give your child a fun thermos to drink out of—pick one in bright colors or with prints of their favorite cartoon characters.

2. Regular exercise

Children love to move, so incorporating exercise into their daily routines may come naturally. When choosing an activity, follow your child’s interests. Athletic children might show a natural inclination toward sports.

If your child is interested in music, consider a dance class. The benefits of physical activity are plentiful, so simply spending time outdoors can go a long way. Walk the dog, visit the park, try outdoor yoga, or play a game of tag.

3. Adequate sleep

Especially as children transition into their teenage years, achieving a regular sleep schedule can be challenging. However, sleeping well and waking up feeling refreshed can go a long way for a child’s academic success and overall happiness.

Encourage your children to adhere to a bedtime routine. Set aside gadgets and find non-electronic ways to relax, such as reading a book or practicing deep breathing. Use our Tips to Improve Sleep handout for more ideas.

4. Good hygiene

Personal hygiene is the root of overall health. While messiness and outdoor play are a quintessential part of childhood, bathing thoroughly and being clean can prevent dozens of health conditions.

Start introducing the benefits of personal hygiene young. Between 3 and 5, encourage your child to do simple tasks like washing their hands, brushing their teeth, and using the bathroom. Set the standard by being a good role model and establishing personal hygiene as an everyday responsibility.

5. Limiting screen time

Social media has a significant impact on a child’s self-esteem and self-image. While the internet provides a wealth of information that is useful in a child’s academic life, limiting screen time can encourage them to be more mindful and “in the moment.”

Help replace screen time by engaging in hands-on activities like arts and crafts, cooking, sports, or volunteering.

6. Emotional well-being

When children are allowed to be vulnerable, they’re more likely to share their thoughts and feelings with their parents. Model expressiveness by letting your child know how you feel throughout the day.

Normalize feeling down when something bad happens, but remind your child not to dwell on what’s out of their control.

7. Safety practices

It’s never too early to teach a child about personal safety. Don’t hesitate to talk about uncomfortable feelings. Consider situations wherein your child might’ve felt uncomfortable and ask them to discuss how they felt. Then, role-play situations where it’s appropriate for your child to say “no.”

Reinforce that they are the boss of their body and that no one is allowed to touch them without their permission. Provide steps for what to do in tricky situations, like saying no, running away, or seeking the help of a trusted adult.

8. Positive social interactions

Children with good social skills have positive social interactions. Getting kids acclimated to social situations can be a fun learning experience.

At home, you can help develop social skills through imaginative play. Role-play scenarios like running a restaurant or a store. Through these scenarios, your child will learn how to respond to others appropriately.

Another way to improve your child’s social development is by hosting playdates or enrolling them in a class where they can enjoy supervised time with peers.

9. Encouraging creativity

Contrary to popular belief, creativity isn’t inborn—it’s a skill you can hone in any child! There are many ways to be creative that don’t just involve a paintbrush and canvas. Creativity can involve solving puzzles, being theatrical, putting things together, and free writing.

Use our All About Creativity handout to shortlist options for honing your child’s favorite hobbies.

10. Setting a good example

Children develop good habits when they see them in action. A child’s very first role model is their caregiver, so if you’re unkempt, forgetting to drink enough water, sedentary, and not getting enough sleep, your child will likely follow suit.

Set a good example by eating a balanced diet, getting enough exercise, having a good bedtime routine, and prioritizing your personal hygiene.

The Bottom Line

Healthy kids have a healthy mindset and an innate desire to be kind to themselves and others. By practicing these healthy habits for kids, your child can learn to prioritize being physically, mentally, and emotionally well!

Make healthy habits part of your child’s journey to physical and emotional wellbeing.

Sources:

  1. Nyberg ST, Singh-Manoux A, Pentti J, et al. “Association of Healthy Lifestyle With Years Lived Without Major Chronic Diseases.” JAMA Internal Medicine, 2020.
  2. Singh AS, Saliasi E, Van V, et al. “Effects of physical activity interventions on cognitive and academic performance in children and adolescents: a novel combination of a systematic review and recommendations from an expert panel.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2018.