1: You are what you eat: It may not be the only way to model health but it is one of the most important components for our children. It is not easy with toddlers to get them to always eat the things you want them to. My first son Chase, was picky and made mealtime a nightmare around two to three years of age. Now at four and a half he has much better at eating what is put in front of him and even reminded his father the other night that he had forgotten to put vegetables on his plate. I smiled to myself and praised him for remembering that he needed to have veggies. I have been fortunate with my youngest, who is two, that he will pretty much eat whatever I put in front of him. I don't give several choices and I refuse to make separate meals. Do I offer choices sometimes? Of coarse! I typically pick two things (which are healthy) and allow the oldest to decide. It is the same with snacks. They will be offered choices yet if I say you need to pick a healthy snack they know that needs to be a fruit, veggie, granola or yogurt. We talk about different fruits and veggies and how they make you healthy. Yes, my children get crackers, the occasional cookie or chips (saved for those times when we visit the grandparents) because I do believe in moderation and having a treat. Another thing that helps with getting children to want to eat healthy is involving them in the preparation of their own meals. If my son helps me make a dinner he is more excited about eating it.
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” ~John F. Kennedy
2: A body in motion stays in motion: Exercise!!! I make time to exercise four to five times a week. This is something that I make happen. I either get in my runs or cross train with video's. I tend to go between Youtube and Grokker for my cross training video's. My children watch me, they know it is important to me. The best is when they try to join in and do the exercises. My two year old does a great downward facing dog and the four year old likes to attempt the weights. Besides being absolutely adorable when they do this they are also learning about keeping yourself in shape. My oldest has asked why I exercise and I explain to him that I want to be strong and healthy to take care of them for a long time. I also encourage exercise with them. We like to take a walk to the farm down the road and visit the cows, there and back makes a 1.5 mile walk. It's not real long but doable for my four year old. Hiking is also something I do with the boys that we enjoy. We call it an "adventure". Often times I bring a bag so Chase can collect "treasures" along the way. It gets him active while enjoying the activity. Incorporate things your children enjoy to do in being active. Encourage active play outside along with playing sports.
3: Hygiene: Health goes hand in hand with hygiene in my book. Teaching children about taking care of their bodies also means proper bathing and brushing those teeth. Washing hands is something I am always on my boys about. At their young ages the put their fingers everywhere! They don't think twice about what they touch or if they touch their own faces after or if their fingers are in their mouths. We are also coming up on cold and flu season, germs are everywhere! Proper hand washing and bathing is key to keeping healthy in the fall and winter seasons.
4: A good belly laugh: Happiness and laughter, let's remember that if we are happy we tend to be healthier. Mental health is just as important as our physical health. It's is so important to laugh, have fun and do things as a family. One of my favorite things to hear is my children laughing. Play games, paint, do puzzles, dance, sing loudly, be goofy, pretend and encourage play.
5: Choosing safe cleaning products and being aware of your environment: I am a fanatic about a clean house. When choosing products to clean with I am always sure that it is something that will be safe for my children. There are so many products out there which contain things that are unsafe for cleaning our environments. Since my children are always on the floor I want to be sure that what I clean my floors with will be safe for them. Using a steam cleaner eliminates having to use harsh cleaners and it effectively kills germs. It's the same with my counters and table. Little fingers are touching everything and I want to be sure it is not going to harm my children. As always, be sure you lock up any cleaning agents you have in your house! If we strive to have a clean environment this also means being sure there are not harmful carcinogens in our living space such as Asbestos. Asbestos is the cause of mesothelioma which can be hard to diagnose since many live with it undetected for so long. For more information on Mesothelioma please visit http://www.mesothelioma.com/asbestos-cancer/ .
All of these things require commitment to follow through. We need to be positive role models for our children. We need to show them how to be healthy and teach them what that means. It teaches children to love themselves, respect themselves, and treat their bodies with care.
“Health is a relationship between you and your body” ~Terri Guillemets