We all want our kids to live happy and healthy lives. Unfortunately, we can’t always be there to guide our children in the right direction or protect them from risky behaviors, especially as they grow older. The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to encourage your kids to make smart decisions on their own. Whether you’re dealing with toddlers or teens, it’s never too late to foster the development of healthy habits. In this article, we share some effective parenting strategies to help your kids make the right healthy choices.
How to Help Make Healthy Choices for Kids?
Instill Religious Values
Whether or not to raise your children with religion is a personal decision, but there is a wide range of benefits that come with a religious upbringing. According to the Institute for Family Studies, one study showed that children who attended religious services regularly were less likely to use illicit drugs or experience high depressive symptoms. Adolescents who prayed regularly were less likely to have sex at a young age. Moreover, children with a religious upbringing reported higher levels of happiness, forgiveness, and a greater sense of purpose, all of which can shield our kids from making poor or risky decisions.
Be a Good Role Model
Kids naturally take after their parents. If you want your kids to make healthy decisions, you need to model these behaviors yourself. One way to do this is to pursue your career goals. Going back to school will show your kids the importance of overcoming challenges and working hard for the things they want. This can also teach your kids the importance of education. If you’re a busy parent, consider enrolling in an online degree program in fields such as information technology, business, or nursing so you can study on your own time!
Let them Experience Natural Consequences
When your children make a bad decision, try stepping back and letting them experience the natural consequences of their actions. This will teach them that they have control over their success or failure. Natural consequences also work great for reinforcing or punishing behaviors. For example, if your child decides not to wear a coat, they will feel cold. If they eat too much candy, they will feel sick. If they won’t eat the healthy meal you cooked, they will be hungry. Your children will learn from these experiences and make choices that help them avoid negative consequences in the future.
Make Healthy Behaviors Fun
While natural consequences are a valuable learning opportunity, parents can also play a role in making healthy behaviors more desirable. Look for ways to inject fun into healthy activities. For example, make exercise fun with backyard games and family outings. Ask your kids to help you shop for healthy ingredients and give them some control over the dinner menu. Set family activity goals and make it a fun competition. All of these strategies can help your children build a positive association with healthy behaviors.
Maintain a Strong and Open Relationship
The strength of the parent-child relationship is one of the biggest factors influencing drug use during adolescence. Aim to have an open relationship with your child in which they feel comfortable being honest with you about tough topics like drugs and alcohol. When talking with your kids about these issues, be honest and rational. Speak to your kids how you would want to be spoken to, make them feel trusted, give them a chance to express their thoughts, and don’t scare them away from coming to you when they have a concern.
Child Mind Institute suggests having an amnesty policy in place, meaning your child can ask for help without getting in trouble. For example, if your child has had a couple of drinks at a party and wants to leave, they can call you for a ride without fearing punishment. Instead of imposing regular consequences for this, you will get them out of harm’s way and discuss the incident when the time is right.
Raising kids isn’t easy. There are so many factors to consider when making parenting decisions, and the right methods for one family might not apply to yours. Still, it never hurts to learn a few new tricks to help your kids make choices that support their health!