Children look up to their parents through their lives. Parents are always a point of reference for their children, someone they turn to for guidance whenever they run into trouble, and children pick up this habit early on in their lives. As they grow, children imitate their parents’ behaviour and actions, and parents are the role models for their kids. Their wisdom and habits inevitably pass on to kids. Thus, it is important to teach the children to differentiate between good and bad habits, and choose the good ones.
Must-Have Healthy Habits For Children
Inculcating the right manners and healthy habits for children can feel like an uphill battle. But you must be patient and lead them towards the right path. The points described below can be considered healthy habits which kids must have:
1. Healthy Eating
Pro Tip: Make food colourful.
Kids are mostly inclined towards demanding more fast food, chips, sweets, biscuits, and chocolates. You need to make them believe that even healthy food can taste equally good. They can be served a homemade version of noodles, pasta, cakes, cookies, and pizza too.
In order to make children develop this healthy habit, go the colourful way – make it a target to eat each colour of the rainbow once a week, which means eating foods of different colours in a meal. Not only does it have health benefits, but also ensures that the kids have fun eating. Parents should set a healthy example by eating regular, nutritious, and well-balanced food.
2. Physical Activity
Pro Tip: Don’t encourage sitting, move often.
Allowing your children to sit and get comfortable on the sofa and watching television would be a big mistake on your part as a parent. Do not let your kids get into a sedentary lifestyle. Encourage them to get them going, maybe for a walk or exercise or send them to play outdoors. Plan a family activity, make it something fun, and get your kids involved. Educate your kids that being a couch potato, has adverse effects on the health. Some of the health hazards a sedentary lifestyle poses are as follows:
- Trouble sleeping
- Attention disorders
- Emotional and social problems
3. Focus on Food-Nutrition Labels, Not Designer Ones
Pro Tip: Encourage children to read and understand food labels.
At a certain age, especially around their teenage years, your kids get interested in the labels of their clothes. Start educating your children about the more important labels that they should take notice of from a young age – food labels. Once they get into this habit, encourage them to learn about the nutritional value of food in the same way.
Show them their favourite packaged foods and point out the vital information on the nutrition labels. Make it a habit for them to read those labels, analyse the nutritional value, and then decide its worth. Advise them to focus on key ingredients such as the amount of saturated and unsaturated fats, sugar, calories, and carbs. Your conscious efforts will help develop healthy habits, which they will carry for their lifetime.
4. Enjoy Family Meals Together
Pro Tip: Make it a priority to enjoy dinner time together.
In the hectic life that we live today, there is hardly any quality time left to spend with family and elders. A busy work life could end up meaning you are unable to sit with children and listen to their stories and personal issues. Make it a priority to enjoy dinner time together with all your family members. You can discuss a number of things and share your views with each other; this will have a long-lasting impact on your children. Other benefits of eating together include the following:
- Children start getting comfortable and adjust well in the family
- Children develop good eating habits and avoid junk food when with elders
- Bonds get stronger
5. Healthy Hydration
Pro Tip: Drink water, not soda.
Drinking soft drinks is the most common trait adopted by small children emulating elders. You need to guide your children and reinforce the importance of drinking water and avoiding soda.
Simply tell the kids that water is healthy and helps to get rid of a number of diseases; whereas soft drinks are unhealthy, as they have a lot of sugar content and add up calories, causing weight issues. Educate them that water is a vital resource, and should be taken in good amounts to maintain proper hydration. When your kids realise how important water is for their bodies, they are sure to choose it over unhealthy aerated drinks.
6. Cleaning Up The Mess
Pro Tip: Provide an organised environment for your growing children.
Cleanliness must be taught to children by default early on in life. Start by organising things properly around kids. When they get accustomed to seeing things in an orderly fashion, they will want to keep them that way too. Once they are old enough, you can assist them and allot time to clean up the mess and place them appropriately. By doing it regularly, they will soon learn and make an effort to organise their things themselves.
7. Be Responsible with Money
Pro Tip: Give them a budget.
As soon as your children become responsible enough to use money to go and buy things, you can start educating them about the value of your hard-earned money. You can get your children into the habit of saving money, by giving them pocket money once in a while, or keep a piggy bank with them.
Give them a budget and encourage them to manage their expenses and save money. This way, your children will learn the value of money and start saving.
8. Sharing is Caring
Pro Tip: Start by encouraging sharing at home.
Children should know the value of certain objects, learn to be grateful, and be modest enough to share it with those who cannot afford it. Also teach them about the intangible things that can be shared, such as emotions, feelings, and stories. Children will learn to share with their family first – parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, extended family, and then with other people. This attitude of sharing will make him or her a better person.
9. Don’t Litter Public Spaces
Pro Tip: Carry a plastic bag to collect your waste; bring it home and dispose it in your dustbin.
Raise your children to be civilised and responsible citizens. Explain that public spaces are not for littering and that one should throw waste into the nearest dustbin. Help them develop this simple habit, and ask them to follow it in all places, as it will help them develop into better people. Make it a habit not to litter, and your children are sure to follow your example. Always look for dustbins to throw things when outside the house. You can carry a small plastic bag with you when you step out of the house and collect all your waste in it – empty water bottles, paper napkins, etc. Bring it home and dispose it in the dustbin instead of simply leaving it at the table in the restaurant, or tossing it on the side of the road, or out the car window.
10. Be Courteous
Pro Tip: Treat people the way you would want your children to treat them – with respect, and courteously.
Being courteous is a virtue admired by everyone. Teach your kids to respect people, be it elders or young ones. Explain to them that even if they encounter someone they are not very fond of, they should be polite and part ways in a decent manner. They should be calm and cordial with everyone. These qualities will stay with them all their life, and they will be always looked upon with respect. Start by treating your children with respect first, and you will see they will pick up on this habit on their own. Be courteous with the maid. Children see, children do.
11. Be Unbiased
Pro Tip: Encourage and foster multicultural friendships.
Children are born innocent and unbiased, and the distinction is a part of social conditioning. As a parent, all you need to do is keep your children away from the tendency to discriminate. Guide them to be unbiased and treat all people equally, be it rich or poor, friend or enemy. You can encourage them to be friends with children of any religion or caste.
12. Do Not Harm Animals or Birds
Pro Tip: Show children documentaries and animal shows on TV.
Children usually get excited around animals and birds. Some feel attracted, some fear them, some get defensive, while some stay calm. They should be educated that animals and birds are living creatures that communicate in their own ways and can be friendly. They should learn to differentiate between creatures that are harmful and those which are not. Advise them to stay away from harmful ones and be kind and friendly to pets. You can educate them about the same by showing them documentaries and animal shows on TV.
13. Exercise Regularly
Pro Tip: Enroll your children for some sport.
Set a routine for yourself and your family to spend some time together for a physical activity such as walking, jogging, swimming, exercising, or doing yoga at home. Exercise will prove beneficial to the entire family in the long run. Starting it early in the children’s routine will keep them active, fit, and flexible. It will help set a healthy lifestyle for your children. Add some excitement to your workout by putting on music. The best way to do this is to enroll your child in some sport. It will teach them valuable life lessons too, the biggest being that of sportsmanship.
14. Do Not Criticise or Bully Anyone
Pro Tip: Always point out mistakes and flaws constructively.
Criticism can make or break young children. At a young age, not everyone is wise enough to take critical comments positively. Parents need to keep a watch and closely guide their children on their interaction and mannerisms. Children should be made to understand that criticism can hurt others, hence they should not speak ill about others. Unnecessary teasing or bullying someone you hardly know just for the sake of fun is wrong and not acceptable. Make it a point to never ever speak ill of family members in front of your child.
15. Be Honest
Pro Tip: Do not lie to your children. Even white lies are lies. Try and be as honest as possible, at all times.
Honesty is a very important virtue and needs to be enforced in kids from childhood. Being a parent, you are the role model for your children. Your actions and words have the greatest impact on them, positive as well as negative. Be honest at all times, especially in the presence of kids. Motivate them to speak the truth under all circumstances.
16. Patience and Perseverance
Pro Tip: Encourage them to take up gardening, or cooking.
It is rightly said ‘Patience is a virtue’, as those who are patient can be at peace, and in today’s stressful world, peace is what everyone seeks. Inculcate the trait of being patient early in your children, so they will grow to be calm and peaceful. Teach them to relax, keep calm, and wait for their turn or for certain things to happen at their own pace. Assure them that patience certainly pays off, and any adverse situation can be dealt with at ease. Encourage them to take part in activities such as gardening, or cooking, where results are not instant, and patience is required.
17. Pay Gratitude
Pro Tip: Cultivate the habit of praying twice a day.
Foster a humble attitude in your children and teach them to be thankful for all things, big and small. Cultivate the habit of praying twice a day, after waking up in the morning and before going to bed at night. Follow it yourself, and your kids will learn from you
18. Wash Hands
Pro Tip: Teach them about germs and diseases that they can pick up due to unclean hands.
Washing one’s hands before and after meals is the most common etiquette taught to students from kindergarten. Let them know that washing hands can prevent common diseases such as flu, cold, and other infections. You need to teach them the following basic rules:
- Wash your hands before and after meals or after playing in sand
- Use clean dry towels, or maybe tissues, to dry hands
- Use antibacterial hand wash
19. Brushing Twice A Day
Pro Tip: Do it together – brush your teeth along with your child.
Oral hygiene is very important and requires to be taken good care from early childhood. The habits imparted early on will stay for a long time. Often kids get lazy when it comes to brushing their teeth, but this routine task should not be taken lightly. As a reward, you may occasionally treat them with their favourite sweets. Educate them about the proper ways of brushing:
- Brush daily and twice a day
- Gargle post meals – This helps avoid bad breath and cavities
- Floss the teeth at appropriate times
- Clean the tongue using a tongue cleaner
- Do not share your toothbrush
20. Clean Ears
Pro Tip: Do it as part of drying up after a bath.
Ears are one of the most vital organs of your body. Neglecting the cleanliness of your ears may lead to a lot of discomfort and even infections. One must take extra care to clean the ears regularly right from infancy. The outer ear should be cleaned with water and wiped with dry towel daily. As children grow, you can teach them to clean their ears themselves.
21. Daily Showers
Pro Tip: Shower twice a day during summers.
Showering is a basic necessity and is recommended for people of all ages. It needs to be done the first thing in the morning after waking up. You can make your children shower twice during the hot days of summer. Alternatively, your kids should take a shower when they come home after playing outdoors. Showering rejuvenates the skin and makes them feel fresh, ready for the day, as well as for a good night’s sleep.
22. Keep Hair Clean
Pro Tip: Teach children the proper way of combing their hair.
Kids need to keep their hair clean. The scalp and hair often get dirty during travelling or playing outdoors. They should wash their hair often, minimum once in two or three days. This will keep them safe and away from lice infestations, dandruff, and excess hairfall. Make it a habit to apply oil on their scalp regularly before washing. Also make sure you use a comb that touches the scalp too while combing their hair. This improves blood circulation in the scalp, and promotes healthy hair growth.
23. Keeping Nails Short
Pro Tip: Explain to them how their nails can cause germs to enter the body
Babies often tend to put their fingers in their mouth, so it is necessary to keep the nails clean and free from dirt. As children grow, you can coach them about the necessity of keeping their nails short and clean. You can explain to them how their nails can cause germs to enter the body through scratching or through the mouth, thus making them sick.
As your children grow old enough to join school, you need to start coaching them about the value of good health and good habits. Apart from the above-listed healthy habits, here are some essential ones for school children to follow:
24. “Please”, “Thank You”, and “Sorry”
Pro Tip: Use these words as often as you can, with and in front of your children.
You should teach your children the three magical words “Please”, “Thank you” and “Sorry”, which will help them tackle many issues with ease. The habit of using these golden words also makes one respected and admired in society. Your children will come across as polite and warm-hearted people. Practise using these words with your kids often, and soon they will use these greetings frequently.
25. Helping Others
Pro Tip: Encourage children to help one person everyday.
Raise your kids to have a helpful nature. Show them the path of humility and generosity. Encourage them to provide a helping hand to those in need whenever and wherever possible. Do your part; help people, be it a friend or a stranger, in presence of your kids, but at the same time, caution them to be careful with strangers.
26. Having A Healthy and Positive Mind-Set
Pro Tip: Inculcate optimism.
Kids are very sensitive and get discouraged easily by small things or when things don’t go their way. It is very important that you get involved and talk to them so you are aware of what your children are going through and what they think about, so they don’t get into any negative self-talk. Avoid false praise; instead, ensure timely acknowledgement of their achievements and efforts. You can help kids develop self-esteem by assuring them of their capabilities and unique qualities and stress that they are loved no matter what. Try to develop their thinking to be logical and practical, so they can have a positive mindset and think accordingly when faced with challenging situations throughout their life.
27. Spend Time with Friends
Pro Tip: Organise play-dates on weekends.
It is said that friendships made in school stay for longer, maybe even for a lifetime. This is because children have innocent minds; they make friends without any selfish motives. And at a young age, friends play a very important role in the social development of your children. Children learn valuable life skills such as communication, socialising, cooperation, problem solving, and teamwork by being with friends.
During teenage and adulthood, good friends become a part of your kids’ support system. Encourage your children to make friends and spend time socialising and relaxing with them.
28. Don’t Skip Breakfast
Pro Tip: Ensure they have a nutritious, healthy start to the day.
Breakfast is the most important meal for all ages. It is especially mandatory for children and school-going kids, as it kick-starts the brain, metabolism, and body functions and provides energy throughout the day. You can provide your kids high-fibre cereals in their breakfast, as they help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart diseases. Getting used to breakfast will prove beneficial for them in their adulthood. Let them know the harmful consequences that skipping breakfast has, and reiterate that not eating in the morning increases the chances of getting obese.
29. Table Manners
Pro Tip: Start early, and encourage independence.
After a certain age, children insist on having meals themselves. Though they may like holding spoons and forks, they fail to do so properly and create a mess instead. They need to be trained to eat on their own in the right manner. You may treat them as grown-ups and start showing them the etiquette of having meals in an appropriate way.
30. Engaging in Regular Physical Activity
Pro Tip: Dedicate 40 minutes to some sort of physical activity everyday.
Children should be kept physically active by engaging them in activities they find interesting, be it playing sports, music instrument, swimming or gymnastics. This habit will enhance the growth of your children in every way. Kids will stay healthy and alert; they will learn to be strong and may likely continue these activities in later adulthood. If your children are not keen on sports or dread going to gym class, keep encouraging them to try new things and expose them to other activities. Sooner or later, they will definitely find something challenging, pleasurable, and fun.
31. Read Every Day
Pro Tip: Make it a part of your children’s bedtime routine.
The best way to inculcate the love for reading in your children is to make it a part of your children’s playtime and bedtime routine. Choose books which would make reading a treat for your children. Make it a daily habit and maintain it, as it will help build the children’s self-esteem, enhance their reading skills, and develop their imagination, vocabulary, and creativity. It proves beneficial in improving relationship and communication with parents.
32. Value Time
Pro Tip: Encourage punctuality.
We are aware of the phrase “Time is money” and know the value of time as well as money. Children need to be taught to make proper use of time, learn to get ready on time, follow daily schedules, and be punctual.
Make them understand the need of being on time to school, because they may be punished for not being punctual. As a family, you may attend several functions or parties. Make sure you reach before or on time for every occasion, and as the children grow, they will inculcate the same habit.
33. Sleep On Time
Pro Tip: Set a regular bed-time routine.
Sleep is most crucial for a growing infant as well as for a developing child. You need to instil the routine “Early to bed, early to rise” in your children early on during their infancy. School-going kids need to be active and energetic every day, for which they require adequate sleep. Sleep helps the body retain all the energy lost during the day. Sleeping early will help your children get enough rest, making the kids feel fresh and active the next day.
- Put your children to sleep early and sleep along with them. Having you close will make your children feel secure and have a sound sleep
- Go to sleep daily at the same time; this will help set the pattern for the children, and they will learn to sleep on their own
- Avoid letting your kids sleep for more than the required time at a stretch. If needed, the children can have a short nap during the afternoon
34. Accept Defeat
Pro Tip: Support them through their failures.
Children are prone to feel upset if they fail. It is your responsibility as a parent to support them and motivate them to take the defeat in a positive way and give their best next time. They need to be informed about life’s ups and downs and made to understand that not every defeat is permanent. It is not always about winning or losing. The effort you put in and the progress you achieve are important too.
35. Work Hard
Pro Tip: Teach your children that there are no shortcuts in life!
Enlighten your kids with the importance of working hard. Cultivate the habit of putting in their best efforts in whatever they do, be it reading, writing, or any constructive work. They should learn the fact that good luck alone does not favour success; it requires strong determination and hard work. You may give your example to your kids explaining how hard you work to earn a living.
36. No Smoking, Drinking, and Drugs
Pro Tip: Quit these habits yourself, and your child will follow suit.
Habits such as drinking, smoking, and drugs largely depend on the family background and upbringing. Ensure that you are fully involved in your children’s lives, knowing their shortcomings and supporting them at every stage, as neglect and a lack of communication leave the vulnerable to external influences. You need to educate your kids about such unhealthy habits and teach them to keep away under all circumstances. Also, warn the kids against coming under the influence of peers. As a parent, you can help by firstly not drinking and smoking yourself.
You may teach your children discipline, but whether your child implements it or not will depend on how well you, as a parent, inculcate it in day-to-day life. Show them the right path and encourage them to stay on it, with positive reinforcement and praise.