Raising healthy kids is no easy task. It requires constant effort to ensure they get the proper nutrients, exercise, and make good choices. But while it can be challenging, it is also essential. After all, healthy habits start early and can have a lasting impact on a child's furture.
School is one of the most important places to focus on healthy habits. This is because kids spend a large chunk of their day there, which can significantly influence their overall health and well-being. Here are a few ways you can encourage your kids to make healthy choices at school.
Introduce Healthy Options at Home
One of the best ways to encourage healthy choices at school is to introduce healthy options at home. If your kids are used to eating nutritious meals and snacks, they will be more likely to make similar choices when they are away from home.
You can start by making minor changes to your family's diet. For example, opt for fruits and vegetables instead of processed snack foods. Or, try to cook more meals at home using fresh ingredients. Not only will this help your kids develop healthy eating habits, but it will also save you money in the long run.
If you’re worried about your kids refusing certain foods, here are some tips for picky eaters:
- Don't pressure them to eat. Putting pressure on your child to eat when they're not hungry or persuading them to eat certain foods or clear their plate creates a power struggle and can lead to them becoming more resistant to trying new things. Additionally, with too much pressure, kids may start to associate food with anxiety or stress.
- Offer a variety of foods. Some kids are picky because they haven't been exposed to a wide range of foods. By offering various healthy options, you can help them develop a taste for new things.
- Be a role model. If you want your kids to eat healthily, you must do the same. Children are always watching and learning from their parents, so ensure you're setting a good example.
- Stick to a routine. Kids thrive on routine, so try to create a consistent eating schedule. This will help them know when they should be hungry and make it easier for them to make healthy choices.
- Let your kid be involved. If your child feels like they have a say in their eating, they'll be more likely to eat it. For example, you can let them choose which fruits and vegetables to buy at the grocery store or help with meal prep.
Every family dynamic is different. Find what works best for you and your kids without putting too much pressure on them or yourself.
Pack Them Healthy Snacks
Packing healthy snacks and lunches is another excellent way to promote healthy choices at school. Packing a healthy lunch every day can be a challenge, especially if you’re pressed for time. To make things easier, try meal prepping on the weekends or invest in a lunch box with compartments for different food groups. This will make it easier to pack a balanced meal.
You’ll also want to make sure your healthy lunch includes:
- Water bottles — Investing in a reusable and vacuum insulated water bottle is an easy way to encourage your kids to drink more water throughout the day. Vacuum bottles offer the best insulation for those long school and activity days.
- Travel drinkware — Cups, mugs, and tumblers with lids are essential for kids who want to take their favorite drinks to school. They ensure that beverages stay hot or cold while also preventing spills.
- Food storage containers — These come in handy for packing leftovers, bringing snacks, or storing lunch items in the fridge.
Another way to make packing lunches easier is to involve your kids in the process. Let them choose what they want to eat and help pack their lunch box. This will make them more likely to eat the food you've packed.
Find Effective Incentives for Healthy Choices
Many parents find themselves struggling to get their children to make healthy choices. They may try reasoning with them, appealing to their better nature, or even threatening them with consequences, but these methods often fall short. That's where rewards come in. Parents can incentivize their children to stay on the right track by offering a desired prize for making healthy choices.
Of course, choosing the right type of reward and knowing how to use rewards effectively is important.
For younger children, try:
- Small toys;
- More playtime;
- Special big kid travel ware.
For older children, try:
- Extra TV time;
- Special outings;
- Staying up later;
- Treating them to cool new school gear.
Praise, hugs, and quality time are great ways to show your kids that you're proud of their healthy choices. With a bit of creativity and effort, parents can use rewards to help their children make good choices and develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
Join School Boards/Committees To Introduce Healthy Initiatives
If you're looking for a way to make a lasting impact on your child's education, consider joining the school board or PTA. As a member of these groups, you'll have the opportunity to shape school policies and introduce new initiatives that promote healthy eating and physical activity.
You can also join forces with other parents to start a school wellness committee. This group can work to change the school environment, such as increasing access to healthy food options and adding more recess time.
These groups often focus on:
- Assessing the school's current wellness policies;
- Making recommendations for improvements;
- Working with administrators to implement changes;
- Monitoring and evaluating the effects of new policies.
Committees will usually create and implement a strategy based on what they have learned about the school. They also offer advice and expertise to school officials on health-related well-being policies and initiatives and provide feedback to the district. Therefore making these types of changes at the school level will not only benefit your child but all the students in the district.
Offer To Bring Snacks to School Events
If your child's school offers unhealthy snacks at events like formals or sporting games, consider volunteering to bring healthier alternatives. This is a great way to support your child in making healthy choices while showing other parents that it can be easy to do the same.
Some ideas for healthier snacks include:
- Fruit cups;
- Veggie sticks;
- Whole-grain crackers;
- Yogurt cups;
- Nuts and seeds;
- Granola bars.
Not only are you providing sustainable and nutrient-rich snacks for the event, but you're also promoting a message of wellness to other parents and guardians. Not to mention you get to spend time and bond with your child as you help out at the event.
Making healthy choices is vital for kids of all ages, and there are many ways that parents can encourage their children to make good decisions. From packing a nutritious lunch to joining a school committee, there are plenty of options for parents who want to help their kids stay on the right track.