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12 Healthy Habits To Teach Kids

April 25-29 is Every Kid Healthy Week, celebrating the health and wellness of children. We’ve all heard some of these scary statistics: One in three children in America are obese or overweight, with higher rates among black and Latino people, and it’s been predicted that one third of all children born in 2000 or later will have diabetes at some point in their lives. In order to prevent diseases and keep our children healthy and happy, Americans need to invest in our children. These are some of the simple things we can do to help as parents, guardians, and custodians of the next generation:

  1. Teach good handwashing habits. It’s not just about washing one’s hands. Too often, teachers see kids rubbing their hands for a few seconds under cold water. Handwashing should use warm water, for about 20 seconds, with foaming soap. Time it by singing a song or telling a story, and encourage handwashing at many different points of the day.
  2. Don’t skip breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, but so many kids skip out. Invest your time and grocery money in planning breakfast.
  3. Teach them to sneeze into their sleeve. This is a healthy habit to avoid the spread of sickness. The “sleeve sneeze” prevents the spread of mucus and germs much more than an uncovered sneeze or a sneeze into one’s hands.
  4. Eliminate soda from their diet. Soda makes a great cleaning agent, as it turns out, but it’s not so great for young stomachs. The sugar alone is cause for concern, but there’s a great deal of bad stuff in soda that bodies both young and old carry around for a long time. Try your best to replace sugary beverages with water.
  5. Go outside and play. Adults treat exercise like a chore because it is, for us. But kids need to have fun when they exercise. Get outside with your kids, and be sure to encourage them to have fun. Throw a Frisbee or ball around. You may even find yourself having fun, too!
  6. Teach them about food labels. Ask for their help at the grocery store. Which cookie, drink, or treat is healthier than the other option, and why? Show them how to compare sodium, fat, trans fat, dietary needs, and everything else on those nutrition labels.
  7. Cut off screen time at least an hour before bed. It’s much harder to get to sleep when you’ve recently looked at a screen, so turn off your TV, tablets, phones, and computers before going to bed.
  8. Eat colorful foods. The people who design cereal know that colorful, rainbow-colored food always get kids jazzed. Instead of offering up sugar-flavored corn, give them colorful fruits and vegetables to get excited about. When shopping, you can encourage them to find every color of the rainbow!
  9. On rainy and cloudy days, still get moving. Have a silly dance party, play a motion-controlled video game, or do jumping jacks just to keep the blood moving.
  10. Keep things positive. Don’t let bullies or, worse, yourself let them feel bad about their bodies. When people exercise, they’re often made fun of. Give them positivity and encourage them to respect and love themselves.
  11. Don’t use unhealthy things as a reward for good behavior. If every time you want to reward a behavior, you do so with sugary snacks, lazy screen time, and unhealthy behaviors, then how will they find the good behaviors rewarding?
  12. Take care of yourself. Be a good role model for your kids and they’ll want to do what you do.
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