Lily, in SUPERHEROES CLUB, sings, “I am me, I like me, that’s who I am.”
She also explains that “In order to help others, you have to believe in yourself.”
It is through the eyes of a child that we come to realize that in order to become a superhero and help others, each of them has to first feel good about themselves, both physically and emotionally.
But, how do we ensure that for our children? The beginning of the year is a wonderful time to re-evaluate our sense of well-being and refocus our efforts to set some health goals for ourselves and our family. Whether that’s eating better, exercising more, or leading an overall healthier lifestyle, it’s a great behavior to model for kids and also to get them involved. Kids learn to set health goals by taking part in working as a family unit to form healthy habits and make healthy choices.
Consider the following to focus on and discuss as a family:
Encourage a “Breakfast of Champions”
Breakfast has been heralded as the most important meal of the day – especially for kids. Yet, in the morning, when we’re trying to coordinate getting everyone out of the house on time, kids frequently leave without having had any breakfast or even a nutritional snack.
Kids need the nutrients and calories from breakfast to help them better focus, keep them strong, and ward off illness. Choosing breakfasts that are nutritionally balanced, rather than ones high in sugar and highly processed, are recommended. The goal is to ensure that kids get the full benefit from their breakfast choices and are able to enjoy a more productive school day.
There is also evidence that one of the factors that leads to childhood obesity, and subsequently, adult obesity, is skipping meals, especially breakfast.
So, let’s begin the day by feeding our bodies the right way.
Identify Healthy Choices
One of the easiest ways to introduce a conversation about healthy eating is to add color to the plate.
Whether it’s bright red bell peppers, cool green cucumbers, yellow squash or even purple cauliflower, adding color not only adds nutritional benefits to a meal, it can make meal time more exciting. It’s also an easy way to help kids identify and understand the connection between bright colors of fruits and vegetables with their distinctive nutritional values.
Discuss with your kids the nutritional value inherent in certain color fruits and vegetables. Have them research them as well. Although it can be a challenge with picky eaters, find a fruit or vegetable in their favorite color and begin there.
There are many different ways to prepare these colorful foods as well, so get your kids involved in trying different recipes to find out their favorite way to eat vegetables they may not love raw.
Focus on a fun exercise
Exercise can – and should – be fun, for both kids and adults. So often we make a chore out of it, lugging ourselves to the gym or dragging the kids to practice.
Taking time to find a sport or activity we like can make all the difference. Finding the right exercise can take some time, and you may have to try several different sports before your child finds one he or she enjoys.
Don’t be surprised if their favorite activity changes over time. One year they may love soccer and the next year, they may want to join the swim team.
Great exercise can come from playtime too! While team sports introduce socialization and teamwork, riding a bike or a scooter or jumping rope are wonderful ways to get exercise – and you can join in too!
Ensuring your child is having fun while exercising will help to build a positive connection with the activity and help to make exercise a life-long habit.
Sleep time not screen time
We all love our screens - adults, teens, kids, and even seniors. While we know that screen time can take us away from things like exercise, reading, or interacting, screen time can be especially harmful prior to bed.
Studies have shown that screen time can impact sleep in a number of ways, including both the duration and quality of sleep for kids.
While screen time may have been a pre-bed ritual, try shifting to story time or even a quiet game or craft. The shift in pre-bed activity should improve the length and quality of your child’s sleep.
Celebrate your successes
What fun is it to make all these healthy changes without celebrating success? Creating a success board in a high-traffic family area to highlight the success of each day and week is a great way to reinforce new habits!
Instead of a food-based reward, focusing on extra playtime, coupons for a movie night, or picking something out of a “treasure chest” filled with pencils, erasers, stickers, etc. will work too! Encourage your kids to “eat like Lily,” dance and play like Lily,” and “enjoy life like Lily,” and they will become healthy super heroes too!