It’s safe to say that most parents would agree that raising children has its challenges, like in behaviour, diet, relationships, dental care, hygiene, leisure, and education. By developing good and healthy lifestyle habits for your children, these challenges will become less stressful over time.

During your child’s young life, it is essential to instill good lifestyle habits and behaviours. A good lifestyle is one where your child eats healthy and surrounded by good examples of behaviour, discipline and also support. Though this may sound ideal, raising a child is not as easy as it may seem.

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Firstly you need to know how to approach and develop good habits, and secondly, your child needs to be able to follow it. The best way to know that you’re raising your kids well is to ensure that they enjoy and believe in the same cause as you. If you can get your child to develop and practice good habits, while enjoying doing so, you’ll have less arguments, difficulty, stress, and fighting.

Here are 4 healthy habits for children that you can try instill at home with hope they will develop good behaviour.

1. Encourage outdoor activity

Healthy Habits for Children

With the amount of technology in most households in this generation, there’s no surprise if your child takes a strong interest in video games or playing computer devices. Though this has its benefits, this also means time lost for your child to play outside or their preferred leisure is to stay indoors. Even though this may seem like a good pass time to help them get away from the Dubai heat, it’s crucial they still go outside for physical activity.

And as their parent or guardian, it’s our responsibility to encourage them to get out and play. We can do this by making fun and exciting outdoor sports that they will like. Or even if it’s just a walk and bonding with your child. If you keep them interested and do this consistently, it will turn into a healthy habit for them.

Spending 30 minutes of physical activity a day is suitable for their health as well as yours. Just keep in mind -as the weather can get quite warm (especially in the summer)- that they need to cover up with SPF sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring a cold drink to keep themselves fresh.

2. Getting quality sleep

Healthy Habits for Children

Getting a good night’s rest is essential for your child. Without proper rest, this can affect their mood, energy levels, and even weight. In turn, your child can become extremely moody, develop behavioural problems and struggle to learn. By turning sleep and rest into a healthy habit, your child will be able to sleep better and enjoy it.

By creating a schedule for your child to follow on a consistent and regular basis, it will make it easier for them to stick to the particular sleeping habit. You can start by developing pre-bedtime rituals such as not feeding them too much, taking them to the restroom, so they don’t have sudden urges in the middle of the night, reading them a story and helping them feel comfortable before bedtime.

As every child is different, find out what makes your child better rested before bed. Once you find out and can stick to it, it will be hard for them to fight back against sleeping early.

3. Making meal time interesting

Healthy Habits for Children

Eating healthy doesn’t mean eating boring. It also doesn’t mean all healthy foods don’t taste good. Children often associate healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits as boring or taste ‘weird’. By improving their diets with foods that are nutrient rich with vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other essential nutrients, your child will be able to live healthier and feel better.

You need to encourage them to eat healthier by making them meals they enjoy. Smoothies, fruit salads, dried fruit, chopped vegetables with dips are often great for children as they are easy to eat and are very tasty. Fruits have an abundance of natural sugars that may help to satisfy their sweet tooth.

4. Positive reinforcement for good behaviour

Healthy Habits for Children

Encourage your child to practice good routine and develop better habits around them. For example, when your child enters the home, tell them to take off their shoes every time. When they forget, firmly ask them to do it. When they do it with initiative, make a positive remark, a compliment or even reward them.

By using positive reinforcement with good behaviour, your child will feel the incentive to follow instruction and do the right thing. Over time, these practices will become a habit where they will do it without your command or appraisal.

This type of enforcement can also be used to improve behaviour, study habits, personal hygiene, as well as building a positive relationship with your child. Just remember not to go overboard. Do not be sarcastic, and do not be overly reliant on this technique as not all kids respond well to positive reinforcement when done incorrectly.

As every child is different, not every approach listed here may work. If you ever get stuck or are unsure of how to approach creating healthy habits for your child, speak with their medical professional and specialist. This way, they’ll be able to identify the main issues your child is having or any possible health conditions that may be affecting their behaviour. It is always best to be open with a doctor about your child.

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.