Being active is an essential part of all of our lives. As parents, it can also be important to make sure your children are active and develop healthy habits as well! That can sometimes be difficult as their needs are different than ours. But nonetheless, studies are suggesting that parents will live longer (in terms of lifespan) than their children due to obesity, diabetes and other health-related risks.
However, starting healthy habits now and keeping up with behavior changes, you can help nature children health decisions. Check out this article from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) that contains tips you can use to help nurture a healthy lifestyle with your family!
5 Steps for Influencing Meaningful Health Behaviors In Children
For the first time in history, there’s data that suggests current adults may outlive their children. Early onset obesity, diabetes and other lifestyle-related health pathologies are currently wreaking havoc on the prognosis for our kids’ long-term health.
There has never been a more important time for adults to “step up.” Kids need parents, teachers, coaches and other positive health influencers more than ever. If you’ve ever worked with kids, however, it becomes clear pretty quickly that their psychological needs are different than those of adults.
I’ve been mentoring kids and consulting with youth organizations for more than 20 years. During this time, I’ve identified five key steps in the process of helping kids improve their health-related decisions. These components of youth communication and behavior change have helped kids from five years old all the way through college.
Step #1: Walk the Talk
A mentor once asked me if someone were to watch me all day, without hearing me say a word, could they tell what’s important to me? As a mentor, your actions speak louder than words. As adults, too often we expect more from kids than we do from ourselves.
Before helping guide others’ lifestyles, it’s important to audit your own. What do your kids see you do? It’s a confusing message when they are told to stay off technology by parents who have their noses buried in a device. You can’t tell them to “be more active” from the couch. A speech about healthy eating is not as effective with a mouth full of fast food.
When your beliefs, actions and message are aligned, kids can see that. This increases trust, which is a critical element of effective mentorship.
Step #2: Make Healthy Habits Relevant to Kids
We can all agree that different things have been important to us during different periods in our lives. During these times, the things that are important to us shape our beliefs and behaviors.
When addressing healthy habits with kids, the outcomes of these habits should impact metrics that are currently important and relevant to them. “Healthy” vs. “not healthy” means very little to a seven-year-old. However, if a child’s goal is to “grow,” certain food choices can help him or her do that. There are other foods one can choose, but these likely won’t help a child reach his or her goal.
If you aren’t sure what’s relevant to children, default to “fun.” Odds are, if your activities or messages make them smile or giggle, they’re engaged. Kids are naturally imaginative, so indulge their imagination. “Measure” them before and after eating greens. If they like video games, craft some physical activities after popular video games.
For older kids, facilitate a discussion about how attaining their goals would impact their lives. Some kids may have a difficult time articulating what is important to them. Make sure you listen carefully and observe their actions and interactions. What they say and do unprompted will offer important insight into what they currently value. Adjust your influencing message and actions appropriately.
To read the rest of the article and view the remaining steps, please click HERE to go to the article on the ACE website
To view previous installments of Wellness Wealth, please click HERE