Alright, parents... guess what!? YOU are role models! Scary, right? The things you do are often reflected by your kids, so why not instill good habits in them? Habits in not only attitude, but also in commitment, health, fitness, forgiveness, love... the list could go on, of course.
So, how do you get your kids to be more active and healthy?
Well, the most simple answer to give is that it has to start with you. In order to get your kids active and healthy YOU must be active and healthy. If you eat bad foods, they will eat bad foods. If you sit on the couch all night, they will sit on the couch all night. Not only do you need to lead by example, but you also need to educate. Kids love to have choices, so if you educate them about health and fitness you also give them a choice of what they want from life and from their bodies.
Where to start?
Keep reading for some tips you can use to help better shape the lifestyle choices of your child...
Let's face it, our school systems aren't helping with the health and fitness of our kids. School lunches are far from healthy, pop machines fill the hallways, and gym/sports programs are getting cut all across the nation, and health education isn't on the agenda at most schools.
What can you do?
Encourage your kids to get outside to play. I remember, when I was a kid, that I often went outside to play catch with my dad, or, my parents and I would go on long bike rides together. This carried over into the activities I did with my friends. We were crazy active! Yes, video games did exist back then (Atari, NES, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, anyone?), but they didn't rule our lives as video games and computers rule the lives of today's youth. So, instead of buying a new video game for your kid, why not buy them a bike, a scooter, a skateboard... something to help them get physically active? Video games are so pricey you'll likely end up spending less money that way, too.
Pack your kids' school lunches. By packing your child's lunch you have a better chance of having the good foods actually reach their lips. Of course, you can't control any swapping they may do at school, but this is where the education part comes in.
Educate your kids on healthy eating. If you teach your kids what good foods and bad foods will do for their bodies, then they may make the better decision to stick with what is healthy for them. Be sure that when you educate you focus on using positivity and not fear mongering (meaning, try to avoid telling them "can't" "don't" etc.).
Let them pick out foods and help prepare them. Let your kids help pick the dinner menu for the week and get them involved in preparing those foods. Teach them about spices and how to flavor foods without using an abundance of butter and salt... it'll be fun! Need ideas? Check out the "light & tasty" recipes at www.allrecipes.com, or subscribe to Cooking Light Magazine!
Get those sweets out of the house. Make dessert what it's supposed to be... A TREAT! By making cookies, candies, cakes, etc. readily available it takes away the idea that it's a treat... something that you get on occasion. So, instead of keeping stuff like that in the house, make an event out of it. Take your kids out for ice cream OR bake your own dessert together as a family activity. By baking your own you also have control over what ingredients go into your foods... unlike store bought foods which are filled with all sorts of chemicals and preservatives.
Encourage your kids to get involved in a sport/activity group. By saying this, I don't mean to force them into it... but ask them if there is something they'd like to participate in, and then support them no matter what their choice is. If you are short on money, you can always ask the school about any programs that may exist out there to help fund your child's activity.
Let them earn their computer/video game time. I know this sounds harsh, but don't let them have a computer or video game system in their bedroom. By doing this you get to see when they are on and when they are off these devices. Let them know that using a computer (besides for homework, of course) or video game system is something they must earn. In fact, you can always do a rewards system. Say, they get "x" number of minutes on their gaming system if they do "x" minutes of homework or "x" number of chores.
Create a chores list. What? Ask your kids to help around the house? Yep! I'd recommend making a list of what you need help with, and what duties go along with that. Then, review this list with your children and let them know what they get for accomplishing each chore that is on the list (in regards to video game/computer time and allowance). By doing this you can let them choose what they are willing to help out with based on what they get as a reward for their help.
Practice what you preach! None of what you do will matter if you don't practice what you preach. Don't give your kids reasons to say "that's unfair!" You have to be the role model here... so, remember that.