Fit and healthy kids: How dads can help
Of course, every dad wants their kids to grow up healthy, wealthy and wise. But as childhood obesity levels show no sign of slowing, ensuring kids eat well and exercise may be a true challenge to your parenting skills.
One of the most basic ways to encourage healthy choices is by modeling these behaviors yourself. This doesn’t have to be difficult – in fact, it can be fun to plan family outings such as walking in the woods, riding bikes and visiting the swimming pool.
Being a healthy role model may involve changing some of your own habits as well. Keeping a plentiful supply of fruits, vegetables and nutritious snacks on hand can help set the entire family on track. Serve water or milk with meals instead of sodas or sugary fruit drinks.
When you’re at the grocery store, point out nutritious options to your kids and let them help you decide between two options, such as grapes or carrot sticks, for their lunch.
Giving kids a choice about what physical activity to participate in will also help them stick with it longer and enjoy it more. Some kids like team sports, while others may prefer something like dance or martial arts. If needed, let children try out a number of options before committing.
Family dinners offer a great opportunity for fathers to make sure their kids are getting proper nutrition. If you are single parenting and have little time to cook, make sure that any premade meals contain as few preservatives, artificial sweeteners and added sodium as possible.
Many experts warn that rewarding children with food demonstrates a misapplication of parenting skills. The association between a candy bar or hamburger and positive emotions can last into adulthood and lead to bad habits. The same goes for forcing kids to clean their plates – they may stop listening to their body’s cues for fullness.
Even as you use your parenting skills to encourage healthy behavior, it’s not a good idea to completely ban particular foods from the family diet. If you tell your child they can never have soda, chances are the prohibition will make them want it even more.