Happy New Year! Many of us want to start off on the right track in the new year by making resolutions. These resolutions aren’t limited to adults; kids can make them too along with their parents and siblings! Resolutions don’t have to be notoriously difficult to keep either.
Many families may strive to eat healthier and get more exercise. Dr. Thomas McIerny, the former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), pointed out the importance of these goals - they improve health and they establish healthy habits that will stay with children throughout their lives..
Check out the AAP’s tips for parents and kids to help you formulate healthy resolutions this year. Let’s break them down and take a look:
Focus on developing healthy attitudes about food and where it comes from by avoiding a “clean your plate” mentality that discourages conversation about food.
Establish a “regular routine” of meals and snacks, and always eat meals at the table. As mentioned in our previous blog post, children who eat with family tend to experience a diverse range of foods and avoid overeating.
We also talked about picky eaters who can pose as a challenge to parents. But we should keep two truths in mind: when a child rejects a certain food, it’s always a good idea to try again later; parents also remain their children’s best role models.
Anything can become physical activity such as a walk around the neighborhood, or going out to the yard. Take advantage of this as a group.
Limit screen time for children. Each day brings new research that further proves that devices can distract from good sleep or ruin concentration. Televisions, phones, and video games are all ubiquitous in our daily lives, but we can take steps to limit their influence in our lives.
Encourage your children to participate in sports and dance teams that can introduce them to new friends while also providing physical activity.
Here are some tips from Stanford University’s Children’s Hospital on how to achieve these goals:
Make small goals: these are easier to keep, so it won’t be as discouraging if you fail to meet a very ambitious goal about a habit that takes time to develop. Establishing one activity to do each week is a great start.
Have roles and a buddy system: Family members can remind each other about their goals and help each other stay on track. Encourage kids to be active participants in choosing their next goal.
Have a rewards system: Small, non-food rewards can accumulate to bigger awards, which kids can choose for themselves (e.g. a trip to the beach or playing a favorite game).
Practice simple journaling: It can build awareness, according to Cindy Zedeck, director of the Pediatric Weight Control Program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Journaling can help you think about the choices you’ve made that day.