Choo Choo Train

How to Teach Healthy Habits to Children

Want more effective ways of teaching your children healthy habits? Try these tips. If you want to successfully build a healthy habit for your children, you must help them to practice the habit consistently, whether it’s washing their hands and feet when they come home or brushing their teeth before they sleep. How can you do that and actually see progress?

Do it early. It is much more effective to teach your children healthy habits when they are young. This is because of the cognitive development that takes place at these ages. Toddlers and three-year-olds are concrete thinkers who believe the way things are done is the way things are done all the time. When you wash hands and feet as you come home, they expect it to be this way all the time. As their thinking become abstract later on and they start to question, the habit will have been ingrained enough that they keep doing it.

Teach instead of nagging. Telling children to do this and that, without first showing them how, explaining why, and getting involved positively every time is not going to work. If you want your children to brush their teeth before going to bed, you must first show them how to brush their teeth, explain how brushing teeth will kill all the nasty bacteria and keep their mouth clean, and then check whether they are doing it correctly every night. Your constant positive involvement will imply that this habit is important because you show you care.

Model healthy habits. If you want your children to go to bed early, the easiest way to get them to do it is to go to bed early yourself. If you are not modelling the good habit you are asking children to do, they will think it is unfair and it is something only kids and not adults do. They might do it now while feeling forced and then abandon it when they get older. Of course, you can get up to do whatever you need to do after they sleep! The idea is to make the healthy habit seems like something that everybody practices.

If possible, avoid giving out rewards for everyday actions. It is very pleasing to have your children actually practice the healthy habit and you are thinking of getting them a reward. But Doniese Wilcox, Certified Family Life Instructor at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center said she worries about over-rewarding kids for things they should just be doing. She worries if you take the reward away, they quit doing it.

Please never force children to eat their food. If you find it hard to feed your children with healthy food because they are picky eaters, use a creative way like ‘thank-you bite’, something Wilcox advised. You can encourage your children to take a bite to thank you for cooking the meal, the grocery stores for having the ingredients, and the farmers for raising the plant or animal. Let them decide whether they want more of the food. This is also a strategy used at Choo Choo Train during kids’ mealtime 😊