Talking with Kids About Health and Wellness

You know how important it is to devote time, energy and resources to your health.  But what about your children and your family? Many of us expect our kids will naturally adopt our own attitudes about healthy living despite the fact that they are often presented with unhealthy options and negative messages about nutrition, exercise, body image and mental health.

It can be difficult to know how to talk to kids about their health.  That’s why we’ve put together this list of proven, effective strategies to help kids develop and manage their own healthy lifestyles at any age.

Adopt a positive approach.  Rather than prohibiting junk food or telling kids to “just say no” to drugs, emphasize the advantages and benefits that healthy living provides.  All people, including children, respond more positively to an attractive alternative than an imposed restriction.

Encourage independence.  Children are more capable of managing their health and making good decisions than many of us give them credit for.  With the right information and support, kids who feel empowered to take responsibility for their own wellbeing often will.

Emphasize education.  The more kids know about their bodies and their health, the more they will understand how important it is to care for them.  Take advantage of children’s natural curiosity to teach them about healthy living in fun and engaging ways.

Make health concrete.  We know it’s important to exercise and eat healthy but this is typically not enough for children who are still learning about these issues.  Be specific by discussing how certain foods or activities will make children stronger, happier and more confident in the short to medium-term.

Model a healthy lifestyle.  We can’t expect kids to adopt positive behaviors and make healthy choices when we fail to do so ourselves. Lead by example and make your own health and wellness a priority.  This will be a valuable lesson for children to witness in the long run.

Adopt a long-term approach.  Even with the best education and encouragement, kids will sometimes make poor choices.  That’s ok!  Bad decisions are learning experiences and the more that young people hear positive and informative messages, the more likely they are to establish a pattern of healthy behaviors and a wellness lifestyle throughout their lives. 

Kevin Arnold

Kevin Arnold writes about health, wellness and travel.  For more tips and information, check out all of his posts

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