Benjamin Franklin once said that it’s better to prevent bad habits than break them. One of parents' biggest responsibilities in life is to help their children develop good manners and habits. If you start teaching your children good routines at a very young age, it will become second nature to them. Here are some tips on how to impart good habits on your children so they can grow up to be respectful, happy and healthy.
1. Lead by Example
Children learn by association and imitation. As soon as they are able, they will do what they see Mommy and Daddy doing. It’s crucial that parents establish their own good habits when children are at this influential age. Be mindful of what you eat, watch, do and say as you lead your child through life by example. They’re watching, even when you don’t think they are.
2. Encourage Family Bonding
Life is hectic no matter if you have one or five children. It’s hard to find time to stop, sit down together and enjoy a meal. But to teach good habits, parents should try to have a family dinner every evening around the same time. Family dinners nurture feelings of bonding in a child. While eating, talk to the kids. Ask them what the best and worst things that happened to them today were.
Teach your child to value the people and relationships they make and explain to them how important family is.
3. Get Active
Sixty minutes a day of physical activity along with good eating habits will help children live a strong and healthy life, according to the American Heart Association. It’s time to get active together. Go on family fitness outings to encourage physical activity. Take them on nature walks, go swimming, play basketball, climb trees. Let your child experiment with various sports and other activities so they can find something they love.
If you’re headed to the gym, take them along to set an example. Some gyms, like 24 Hour Fitness, have babysitting services. Exercise not only does a body good but it deters children from leading a sedentary lifestyle.
4. Eat Healthy
As you know, routines are essential with kids. This is especially true with eating habits. Starting with breakfast, establish a routine to kick-start their brains and give them energy. Continue the schedule all the way through dinner.
One way to entice children to eat healthy foods is to make eating colorful. Provide a rainbow of healthy foods on their plate. Make a salad and arrange the vibrant colorful ingredients — orange heirloom tomatoes, red peppers, green avocados, yellow chick peas on a bed of purple lettuce.
5. Read to Them
Reading skills are the foundation for children’s academic success, explains the American Academy of Pediatrics, and parents should begin a daily reading routine by six months of age. Reading to your child builds a strong relationship with you, helps with basic speech skills, encourages better communication skills, gives kids more logical thinking skills, and enhances concentration and discipline.
6. Look on the Bright Side
If you are a positive person, most likely your child will be too. Positive thinking encourages good self-esteem and teaches kids to be lovable, capable, creative, respectful and patient.
When teaching your children good habits, you must be specific, enthusiastic and encouraging. Whether you’re teaching respect, truthfulness, good eating, saving money, cleanliness, obedience or kindness, it’s always best to reward good behavior. Living with healthy habits is not just a one-and-done lesson, it’s a lifestyle.