5 Healthy Habits for Kids in the New Year

healthy habits for kids

A new year is underway and with it often comes resolutions for the twelve months ahead. For parents and caregivers, resolutions might include developing healthy habits for kids.

This article will highlight why generic resolutions regarding health and exercise for youngsters just don’t work, along with offering five timely and engaging suggestions that will achieve healthy habits and enhance kids’ well-being.

The pitfalls of traditional resolutions

The problem with traditional New Year’s resolutions is they are often boring and generic rather than inspiring and specific. Coming up with goals like “eat healthier” and “exercise more” can sound discouraging for kids aged 4-12. For starters, neither of these goals sounds like much fun at all.

Check out the following five suggestions instead, aimed at turning resolutions into fun adventures rather than sounding like restrictions.

1. Move and groove

Children always have energy to burn, so encouraging them to get some physical activity in their routines isn’t hard if it sounds like a good time. Ask a ten-year-old to do twenty push ups and you will likely get a look of disdain. However, if you were to propose a dance party with friends, a family hike or a backyard obstacle course race, then the reaction would be entirely different.

You could hold an outdoor disco in the backyard during the day or early evening. Invite their friends, the neighbourhood kids and even the parents. It’ll likely end up being loads of fun for everyone, and not just the little ones.

Pack a picnic lunch and take a walk in the local park or a hike along a mountain trail. If the park has a lake, that’s the perfect spot to spread out the picnic blanket. In the mountains, hike to a waterfall or rock pool to have lunch.

A backyard obstacle course is a cool idea and something kids are sure to get excited about. Everyone can get involved in setting up the course. You could use a log or plank of wood for a balance beam, stand a series of hula hoops upright on the grass using tent pegs, hammer some poles or sticks into the turf for kids to weave in and out of and more. Ideas are endless and the challenge of the obstacle course can be time-based. Who can complete the course the fastest?

2. Fuel for fun

The first idea focused on physical activity, whereas this one targets good nutrition with some fun twists.

Get your kids involved in preparing a plate for lunch with the stipulation that it has to be colourful (and healthy). You can limit ingredients to fruit and vegetables and see who comes up with the most colourful and interesting design. Then everyone gets to eat their creation.

Set up a DIY smoothie bar in the home, with a blender, milk, honey, bananas, strawberries and other nutritious ingredients. Kids can help themselves and create their own smoothies.

Chat with other parents and organise healthy lunchbox swaps. Children and parents can work together on preparing a delicious lunch, after which kids swap their lunchbox with other kids at school.

3. Zzzzz, sweet dreams

Developing consistent and restful sleeping patterns is a vital part of good health for kids. Let’s look at a couple of ideas to help children get a great night’s sleep.

Yoga is a fantastic way to relax before bed. It eases stress and calms the mind. Parents can perform yoga routines with their kids to make things more interactive. For ideas, there are loads of videos online that demonstrate popular yoga moves.

For younger children, simply reading a bedtime story will often make them drowsy enough to doze off. Encourage older children to read a few pages of a book before turning off the light, as bedtime reading really does relax the mind.

Playing soft relaxation music is also very effective in creating a calming sleep environment.

4. Tech timeout

Both children and adults alike will benefit from tech timeouts. Arrange unplugged nights where the family enjoys a few hours of playing board games together. It’s a lot more social than staring at devices. If board games aren’t your thing, you could have a karaoke night, play charades or have a living room dance party.

During the day, outdoor adventures will help everyone stay unplugged for a few hours. This could be a day at the beach, a fishing trip, swimming at the local pool, visiting a water park with water slides, racing around a go-kart track or even cable skiing. Whatever you choose, it’s bound to be a fun day for the entire family.

5. Mindful moments

Nurturing the mind of children is just as important as nurturing the body. Their minds need to be fed positive information and kids also need to know how to unwind and relax.

Mini meditations are perfect for teaching children the basics of calming the mind and clearing it of thoughts. We all know kids don’t like to sit still and focus for too long, which is why short meditation sessions are great. Even three to five minutes of meditation, listening to a meditation soundtrack, sets them on the path to discovering the power of this activity.

Play some gratitude games to fill their minds with positivity and thankfulness. Encourage children to start a gratitude journal, where they write down the things they were grateful for that day before going to sleep.

Take a nature walk with your kids and encourage them to take note of everything around them, such as the ground underfoot, the rustling of the leaves, bird calls, the earthy smell of the air, unusual plants and trees and anything else you all experience along the journey.

Wrapping it up

Developing a healthy lifestyle for kids is truly a family affair. Make everything a collaborative effort and get the little ones involved in coming up with ideas and implementing healthy habits. Acknowledge achievements and celebrate progress and milestones along the way. This will keep kids enthusiastic, engaged and motivated long-term. Perhaps offer some form of reward when a child achieves a specific goal or passes a milestone.

Depending on what activities your children do, develop methods for tracking progress. For example, you can encourage them to eat more serves of fruit and fresh veggies they’ve had every day to earn reward points towards earning a healthy prize at the end of the week, or start a journal where they can map out exercise routines and other physical activities they do or would like to try, and use a smartwatch or pedometer counter to have a game recording their daily steps!

The internet provides a wealth of information and ideas when it comes to healthy habits for kids. You can check out recipe websites and watch videos to discover fun activities. Fitness apps for smartphones or a Fitbit worn on the wrist will definitely keep kids engaged. Also, you can check out some helpful resources on our website, including Dr Koala’s 100 fun ways to move in his Ride to Life book.

Need more ideas to help build healthy habits this year?

Sometimes, you may require additional support to help children make sustainable changes when it comes to their health and fitness. At Childhood Obesity Prevention, we’re here to assist. For healthier eating habits, check out our book Ride to Life. Alternatively, you can book in for a personal consultation.