According to Samantha Stern, training and development director for Ebenezer Child Care Centers, “You have to practice what you preach when it comes to teaching your children about how to live healthy.”
Stern says there are number of things you should be focusing on when it comes to making sure your children stay healthy for their lifetime.
Stress the Importance of Breakfast
We have all heard the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and research has proven that.
According to Stern, “Studies have proven that children who eat a well-balanced breakfast perform better in school.”
Stern says you have to teach your children that no matter how busy the day is, they should always make time for a healthy breakfast. It will refuel them so they can focus on learning, and provide energy so they can exert themselves in physical activities.
A healthy breakfast should contain items from three or four food groups such as whole-grain bread or cereal, fruit, milk, yogurt, or eggs.
Daily exercise helps keep the body fit and reduce stress. It is important for maintaining a healthy weight and keeping your blood pressure in check.
According to Stern, “With juvenile diabetes at almost epidemic rates, we need to teach our children to take the stairs instead of the elevators, to walk versus drive whenever possible, and to get up off of the couch.”
Stern adds that the best way to do this is by setting an example for your children and by making fitness a family priority that you engage in together.
Get Adequate Sleep
Stern says the importance of a good night’s sleep is often overlooked, and it shouldn’t be. “Young children need 11-13 hours of sleep in order to function at their best.”
Sleep is how your body recharges itself and naturally fights off germ attacks. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body eventually breaks down and gets sick.
“Make sure you have a set bedtime for your children and that you stick to it,” says Stern. “As your children get older, that time may change, but make sure that your children are still getting the rest they need. It is also important that your children understand that sleep recharges them and allows them to be at their best.”
Saying No to Smoking and Drugs
Stern says children need to learn from early on that their bodies are sacred vessels, and that smoking and drugs will destroy their bodies. “Research has shown that children whose parents have talked to them about the dangers of smoking and drug use are less likely to use them,” adds Stern.
“If you smoke, quit and then talk to your children about how you do not approve of smoking and drug use. Make sure to tell them about the consequences that will be involved if they do decide to experiment with either of these substances, and stand firm on your commitment to this.”
Children need to learn that good nutrition is imperative for providing the body’s cells with the building blocks to maintain good health. They should be encouraged to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains to maintain good health and to avoid high-calorie, high-fat foods that will not properly energize their bodies. Children also need to be taught to drink lots of water throughout the day. This too will help them to maintain good health.
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