Like any good parent, you want to help your kids make healthy choices. The reality, though, is
that many kids are unhealthy. A new study found that 40 percent of American adults are obese.
Perhaps just as alarming, 20 percent of adolescents are obese, too. Children can also undergo
mental stresses such as ADHD, anorexia, depression, and schizophrenia. So, here are some
tips for helping your kids make healthy choices to combat potential health difficulties and to
cultivate good habits throughout their lives.
The reasons that the United States is undergoing an obesity epidemic are complex, but the
usual suspects are bad diet and not staying active enough. One of the best things you can do to
keep the pounds off your kids is to feed them well. According to a national survey, 21 percent of
parents believe it’s “somewhat or not important to cut down on junk food or fast food.” Preparing
fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean meats including omega-3 fish takes time, but it’s a great
In addition to serving your kids healthy meals, it’s a good idea to get them involved with the
cooking. Teaching your kids to cook healthy dishes will allow them to better appreciate real food.
This is a chance for you to talk about the benefits of the food being prepared as you cook together.
Another reason your child may be at risk of gaining weight is because inactivity has become the
new norm in American life. Few American adults work jobs that keep them active, while kids
spend most of their day in front of screens – iPads, iPhones, or TVs. So get those kids
outdoors. Go sledding in the winter. Jump in the pool in the summer. And, between all the other
seasons, play catch or basketball with them, or make them come along with you when you walk
the dog. If your kids are older, you might figure out if they’re interested in a certain sport and
then nudge them toward doing it as an extracurricular activity.
Now that you’ve worked out a plan for your kids’ diet and exercise, attend to their mental
wellness, as well. First, set boundaries because kids crave structure -- and that structure
doesn’t have to be rigid. Just set a schedule so they know what time to wake up, eat breakfast,
go to school, do their homework, and get ready for bed. And once that structure has been set,
play with them. Ride bikes. Go camping in the backyard. Put on a family movie when it’s cold
out. On your end, keep on top of your finances, so that any stress you feel about money doesn’t
percolate down to your kids.
Explain More than Driver Safety
Most parents dread the time when their child is old enough to drive. It can be scary to think
about them getting behind the wheel. But if you start out with a positive approach to safe habits,
you can ensure they understand all the components of driving a car. Teach them that it’s not
just about being able to go from point A to point B, but that it’s also about being present, paying
attention to driving and insurance laws and coverage in your state, avoiding any form of
distracted driving and tending to car maintenance. If you lay the foundation for safe driving
practices now, your teen will carry this into adulthood and likely pass these habits to their own
To provide a safe home for your children, you’ll need to keep some of your belongings away
from them. Store your medications and alcohol in a locked cabinet and explain to your kids that
those are for you and you alone. Many teenagers experiment with alcohol before they turn 21,
but you can have a conversation with them about drinking responsibly. Lock your liquor cabinet
and tell them it’s off limits. Also, let them know the consequences that will happen if they do
drink while underage.
Any guns that you’ve bought for hunting should be kept in a separate location, away from your
house. For smaller guns that you use for self-protection, lock them in a safe with a combination
that only you know, and secure them afterward with a cable lock.
Providing a happy home for your children can brighten their worldview and instill in them a
sense of confidence that bolsters good decision-making for the rest of their lives. Positive habits
like exercising, eating right, safe driving and avoiding dangerous substances will help your kids
grow into healthy and stable adults.
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