It is hard to picture the little ones ever getting older when you look at your kids. But try as we might to avoid it, they will grow up soon enough.
In a few short years, the toddler tumbling around your living room will be a grown-up with their own home and family. For this reason, it’s essential to teach your children healthy habits while they are young so they will carry these habits with them into adulthood.
Below are some of the most crucial habits to encourage.
Healthy Habits for Kids
1. Staying Active
This is more of a reminder for the parents than the kids, seeing as most children want to be active all the time. Instead of telling them to sit or quiet down, encouraging them to move and run (especially outdoors) is a healthy habit to let them get into.
Instill the importance of physical activity in your kids for at least 60 minutes a day while they’re young. Get active with them and lead them in activities like games of tag, sports, or sledding.
Children who remain inactive have a higher risk of developing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or cholesterol.
However, those encouraged to build an exercise routine maintain a healthy weight, have reduced chances of using drugs, and enjoy better mental health.
Furthermore, kids that have adapted to a healthy, active lifestyle will be able to complete more daily duties when they reach adulthood.
Teaching your kids about money now is vital to their financial success as they become teenagers and adults. It is also not as difficult as you might expect to teach them to be money-smart.
Help them understand the value of money by giving them small payments for completing chores around the house.
Bring them to the store with you when you shop every once in a while, and show them what things really cost (and that those costs can add up)!
You can even play finance-related games with them, such as Monopoly, to help them understand basic economic principles.
Additionally, allow your kids to acquire a charitable mindset. A simple way to do this is by setting up three jars in a shared space within the home with the following labels: savings, spending, and charity.
This approach will allow your child the opportunity to visualize what they are earning and what they will give away.
It is a great way to start a conversation on the importance of sharing, and encourages your children to research topics they are passionate about. Sit down with them and brainstorm ways you can support a charitable cause as a family.
Many university students will tell you that cooking is an area where they wish their parents had taught them more. It’s a relatively easy skill to develop at a young age, and cooking knowledge affects your children throughout the rest of their lives.
Invite your kids with you into the kitchen when you’re preparing food, and get them to help you measure out and mix ingredients or read the instructions from the recipe. You’ll be surprised how many of these little activities stick with your child later.
4. Eating Healthy
Pairing with the previous habit, eating healthy is best encouraged at a young age. Eating healthy is easy and can be fun for kids, especially if they feel involved and motivated.
For example, bring them with you to the grocery store and let them pick out fruits or veggies from the produce section or read the food labels. Get their help in meal prep for the week, and show them that water is better than juice or pop for quenching thirst.
Teach them the different food groups by slowly introducing new meal ingredients through nutritious snacks.
If your kids are picky eaters, disguise the food they might not normally enjoy, such as vegetables, through meals like stews, wraps, and soups.
When your children start to learn the types of meals they like and don’t, encourage them to pick family dinners or snacks they want to have for the week.
There is no better way to develop your literacy skills than reading. This is especially true when a young child reads, as it helps them grow their vocabulary, language skills, concentration, and even imagination.
Reading is a great tool to teach children different perspectives and help them understand the feelings of others. Read to your kids when they’re young, and allow them to look over your shoulder as you do so.
This way, they can follow along with their eyes and develop a deeper understanding of the vocabulary in the text.
It’s also a good idea to take your children to your local library as a fun activity, and when they’re old enough, challenge them to read a certain amount of books each year.
Making it a fun competition is a great way to encourage their reading habits. When your children start learning how to read, they will become more open, form a sense of belonging, and find the courage to be more talkative. It can bring them joy and serve as a form of comfort.
Related: Explore Inspirational Biographies for Kids and add them to your child’s library.
Communication skills are learned rather than intrinsic. No one is born a great communicator, but everyone has the chance to learn to be one while they are young.
Teaching your kids good communication skills will benefit them later on in relationships, jobs, and almost every aspect of their everyday life. Grow their oral communication skills by asking them to tell you about how their day went, what they learned, and so on.
Their skills will grow through being allowed to talk in full sentences with you and hold discussions. You can also try giving them chances to talk around the dinner table and over the phone.
Help them with their written communication skills by getting them to write letters to family members or Santa.
Though it may not sound like it, imagination is indeed a habit, and one that should be practiced often by both kids and adults. Imagination helps each of us socially, creatively, linguistically, and in even more ways every day.
Fostering creativity will aid your kids in getting a better education alongside knowing how to tackle and understand their feelings. Every job requires imagination in some form, and thinking outside the box can help us stand out.
Teach your kids to be creative by introducing them to activities that require imagination like painting, acting, games like charades, or creating something fun like slime.
Challenge them to use their imagination in every situation they are in, get outside, and help them explore their environment and make their own discoveries and inventions.
Related: Read about these young kids who changed the world with the creative thinking and problem solving things.
8. Self-Help skills
Instilling habitual self-help in your kids is a great way of ensuring they are more independent as they become adults.
When you grow up, you don’t always have someone helping you every step of the way. So, while your kids are young, allow them to leverage their own potential and skills.
Show them how to get dressed and ready for school, and have them look into resources on their own when figuring out homework questions.
Get them to help you with things like looking at maps and telling you where to go, planning a route to take on transit, or finding the right measuring cup when baking.
Not everyone is a natural leader, but everyone can learn leadership skills such as problem-solving, goal-setting, and active listening. These skills are best taught as young as possible and reinforced.
Teach your kid these skills by giving them chances to take a leadership role in certain situations and tasks around the house. Give them responsibilities and model the type of leader you want your child to grow into through your own behaviour.
Help them set and write down their goals as a tool to motivate them, improve self-confidence, and create self-awareness. Children who learn to write down their goals will often become high achievers.
A great way to encourage this skill is through family gatherings and shared activities, not to mention casual discussion. Such methods will allow your kids to speak about their plans for the week, their interests, what they want to do, and otherwise.
Furthermore, it can teach children to be aware of others, making it a bit easier to learn active listening and problem-solving skills for when issues arrive. When their confidence has developed further, they can start to organize family activities independently.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, getting your children to practice habits that develop a nature of gratitude is very important.
Children who learn the value of gratitude tend to be happier, more optimistic, have better support, and appreciate friends and family within their circle.
When children have reached adulthood, those who have learned to understand the perspectives of others are much friendlier and easier to be around than those who were not raised to be grateful for what they have.
Help your children learn gratitude through fun games, such as each of you listing one thing you’re thankful for before dinner.
Alternatively, educate by encouraging your kids to get out of their comfort zone and try new things to show them that they can be grateful for others’ perspectives.
You must also serve as a kind and considerate role model for your kids. This can be done by performing acts of kindness in front of children, such as saying please or thank you.
Managing stress and not verbally lashing out is also crucial. You can also develop a family project like a gratitude jar where everyone writes down what they are thankful for.
Instilling in your kids the value of being grateful can push them to become less materialistic and envious. They will understand the importance of forgiveness and patience amongst their friends and family.
As parents and educators, our job is to give children tools that will help them attain a bright and successful future. By encouraging healthy habits, your kids will learn to become confident, independent, and strong-minded.
Within your home, start with tasks that the entire family can do to foster a positive and encouraging learning environment. Slowly and steadily, you will see the development of skills your child will be able to use in the future. As a result, that future will be even brighter!
Brigida Aversa is the COO and Co-founder of Tiny Hoppers, Canada. Tiny Hoppers is an award-winning early learning center and daycare provider. Brigida’s dedication to children and their holistic development dates back over 20 years, assisting young children aged 3-15 years with self-esteem and self-confidence.