8 Tips for Creating Summer Habits with Young Children by Alyea Sandovar
I think we can all appreciate how difficult it can be to build healthy habits as an adult. A lot of the time, we know what’s good for us! But putting action behind this knowledge is a whole different story.
That’s why installing healthy habits in children is so important. Wellness doesn’t happen overnight. Encouraging good habits daily helps to build the foundation of a happy, fulfilling life.
How family at a distance can help
Family at a distance can model healthy habits during connection points. Whenever you speak or connect with the little one, take a moment to show them a healthy habit you do and why you do it.
So what kind of healthy habits can you share with young children? Below are our tips for the 8 most important habits to build in your young child.
Habit #1: Staying Safe
One of the first things you might teach your little ones is the importance of safety. Simple everyday things that keep them safe in the world. Crossing the road safely and wearing seat belts etc. Teaching children to be conscious of their own safety helps to keep them from danger and introduces responsibility. These are habits we can demonstrate ourselves.
Tip: Involve your little one by asking them to press the button on the road crossing for example. These habits become so ingrained they are second nature as adults.
Habit #2: Eating Well
Eating healthy food allows us to function at our best. Children can be noticeably different when consuming foods that aren’t good for them. Introducing healthy eating habits and healthy foods at a young age helps them to feel more comfortable with good food as they grow up. Encouraging your little one to try as many healthy foods as possible is a great start – even if they spit them out! It can take up to ten tries for a child to start accepting a new food. So don’t be disheartened if it ends up on the floor half a dozen times.
Tip: A good way to get kids excited about healthy food is to involve them in food choices. This is nice to do when cooking but isn’t always possible if you have time restrictions. A simple solution is with food shopping. If you are buying carrots for example, ask your little one which carrots look the tastiest. When you eat them at home, you can support their choice by talking about how delicious the carrots that they choose where to eat!
Habit #3: Being Active
As adults, we can struggle with the notion of exercise. Our exercise habits can vary drastically from one person to the next. It’s important for your child to feel comfortable and confident when trying out all forms of movement. Exercising is good for your mental health, yet adults can have complicated feelings about it.
Exercising from an early age helps to teach your child about their body. Finding clubs or groups such as swimming lessons is a good starting point. Something they get into the habit of attending every week. When they become adults, they will be familiar with a weekly exercise routine.
Tip: Make it a habit to spend time outside playing with your children, either in the park or in the backyard. If you do not have access to a playground, clear out the living room and put some fun music to dance to, anything to help your child get active.
Habit #4: Caring for the mind
Maintaining good mental health is a real balancing act for most adults. When we take care of our mental health, we can be relaxed and content with our life. Teaching children to understand their emotions and respond to them in a healthy way is vital for good health and happiness.
As we know, children follow by example. How you treat yourself in front of your child can have a big impact on them. Refraining from negative self-talk is important. Managing your own emotions well and teaching your child to pause before reacting to their immediate feelings.
Tip: Speak positive words about yourself outloud and notice your positive attributes regularly. Your young child will pick up on it!
Habit #5: Financial Wisdom
Financial wellness has a big impact on our stress levels. Money worries are among the topmost stressful components to our existence.
Children inherit our attitudes towards money. If you were brought up seeing money as a difficult thing to obtain, then the chances are you are likely to feel as though you don’t deserve money as an adult. You can show your children that money is available to them. When old enough, trusting your little one with a bit of money can help them learn healthy habits. Children love this feeling of autonomy. The important thing is to teach them that money is a powerful tool that they can use to achieve things.
Tip: Get a little piggy bank and show your child how to save money from gifts and things they receive. If you are at a distance you can have a similar piggy bank to show them how you do it at home.
Habit #6: Healthy Connections
Cultivating good relationships with others is an important aspect of life. Children develop relationships from a young age. Through this we can teach them to recognize the good qualities of a relationship. Open communication, respect, boundaries, and empathy. Helping your little one express their emotions within a relationship builds good communication skills. Allowing them to acknowledge their feelings and share them with others. When your child has a negative interaction, such as bullying or being disrespected, as a parent you can talk about the value of boundaries and self-worth.
Tip: When a young child (even if they are speaking age) reacts strongly, become an investigator. Before punishing a child for their reaction, try to understand why they behaved as they did. Ask them questions about it – “Did you want to do X instead?” or “Did Y upset you”? Then teach them how to take deep breaths to regulate their feelings
Habit #7: Sleeping
Sleep is one of the most important healthy habits to develop. Oftentimes families might put off bedtime with the hope that the young child will wake up later the next day. Or naptime is skipped for the same reason. However, this can create sleep deprivation in the young child which leads to mood shifts, irritability, depression and stress. Young children need 12-14 hours of sleep daily to grow healthy and emotionally stable.
Tip: Give your child the gift of emotional stability and develop healthy bedtime and night time routines. Try 2-3 things to prepare your child for sleeping. Reading or having your child’s favorite toy or object, playing a soothing song, singing softly or telling a story can all be part of your bedtime routine.
Habit #8: Caring for our world
Teaching your little one about the world is a life-long pursuit. This can begin from an early age by demonstrating how and why we need to take care of our planet. Teaching the importance of recycling and keeping trash away from nature. This shows that we all must share the planet, even the birds and the fish and plants.
Tip: You can involve your little one by allowing them to place recyclable items in the right bins.
Got any more tips that you would like to share? Let us know below.
About the Author
Alyea Sandovar PhD (looking after Product, Content, Gamification and organizational design) is an expert in gamification and video games research (10 years), has a background in early developmental psychology and organizational design.
Alyea is an aunt of three children in the US and having lived as an expat and digital nomad across 3 different continents she knows the pain of being away from family.
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