At Any Baby Can, families are our business. In order to provide pertinent information that benefits families along their journey, we partner with subject matter experts who can shed insight, tips and tricks we can all use. This week’s post was developed in collaboration with our friends at Aaptiv, creators of the audio-based app dedicated to improving lives through physical fitness.
Most of us know the expression “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”, but what implications might this have when it comes to how our children develop healthy behaviors? As it turns out, parents have a hefty responsibility to model healthy behaviors. According to the U.S. Department of Education, telling a child right from wrong has a far weaker impact on future behavior than a child observing what his or her parent actually does on a daily basis.
Leading by example is crucial to how your child views wellness, and influences their decision-making and lifestyle choices as they age. Demonstrating healthy behaviors like the ones outlined below are all key to communicating the importance of a healthy lifestyle early on. Best of all? These are easy, inexpensive tips we can all incorporate on the fascinating journey of parenting!
Family Meal Time
Creating a set time for the family to sit, connect and eat a well-balanced meal promotes a family culture of togetherness centered around healthy eating habits. Even if it’s just one meal a day, consistency is key to guiding a child toward a positive relationship with food. Additionally, involving kids in the cooking process can inform them what goes into proper nutrition so they’re better prepared to make decisions about eating later in life.
Making fitness an inclusive activity helps to reinforce it as a cornerstone of a healthy life. Demonstrate this through family excursions, like swimming or signing the family up for a 5K. Even parents of very young children can model physical activity. For example, go on a hike while carrying an infant or toddler in a babywearing device like a sling or front pack.
Parents who are invested in their personal fitness are more likely to impart their habits and techniques onto their kids. For example, someone who invests time and energy into building strength using machines and bodyweight circuits, or endurance through running workouts like high intensity interval training, is a lot more likely to get their kids building a foundational knowledge about fitness much earlier. Find your own passion for physical activity, and then explore fun, safe ways to involve your child.
Reducing Screen Time
Limiting the amount of time a child spends online or in front of a TV screen is key in encouraging them to pursue healthy activities, and develop hobbies and social skills. Although it might be tough, it’s important to be present; do your best to refrain from scrolling social media at dinner or a family outing, and set firm “switch off times” for both parents and kiddos.
In short, it’s not always about teaching by telling. Often, a child learns and adapts simply through observing an adult’s behavior, even without understanding its full meaning. A parent whose words don’t match their actions risks negating the positive development of healthy behaviors they have fostered in their child. Remember to applaud a child’s good behavior with positive reinforcement, and encourage the whole family to follow a healthy routine.
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