How to Talk Your Way to Healthier Kids

It’s hard enough to convince yourself to adopt healthy habits. But beyond your personal hang-ups or laziness when it comes to adopting a healthy lifestyle, you also must deal with your child’s.

Convincing your child to eat healthily, be a little more active, and follow some basic hygiene rules shouldn’t be this difficult. But it often is.

What you might not know? Your words could be sabotaging the progress you want to see.

So how can a concerned and reformed parent make some changes without fomenting a household revolt?

Use these communication tactics for greater progress toward healthier kids.

Stop asking for permission.

Directives that end in questions to garner your child’s agreement might make you feel better. But might be confusing your children, who then feel like they have a choice in the matter. For example, ever said something like the following: “You need to visit the dentist. And then you’ll feel much better, right? What do you think?”

Visiting the dentist is not an activity that you want your child to be able to opt out of. So don’t end your statement with a question that implies asking for their agreement.

According toSprings Pediatric Dental Care, a pediatric dental office in Colorado Springs, “The dentist’s chair and dental equipment can look scary at first if they aren’t introduced in just the right way. On top of that, a typical dentist may lack the sensitivity and demeanor necessary to put your child at ease. It makes perfect sense that the best way to meet your child’s unique dental needs is to go to a dentist that specializes in pediatric dentistry.”

If you have already decided that a certain activity will be part of your household’s regular routine, then stop asking for permission.


Capture their interest in food, health, and fitness.

Knowledge and information provide the foundation for better choices. The more you and your family know about health-related topics, the more they will be prone to better choices.

Read up on fitness, healthy eating, and the healthy habits you want your family to adopt. Share the fascinating facts with your family. Make it captivatingby researching little-known facts and case studies. Find documentaries that you can watch together on healthy eating and fitness.

Netflix has a wide range of food documentaries that expose unhealthy eating behaviors. As well as shows featuring fit people who are capable of outstanding physical feats.

A word of warning: Do not let your talk about fitness devolve into discussions of weight. Instead, focus on exercising for the sake of one’s health. And making food choices that promote health, versus food choices to stay slim. Focusing on a number on a scale when a child is young can develop into eating disorders and an unhealthy obsession with dieting.

Even if you have a target weight you are working toward, keep that to yourself. Discussions with your children should be about overall health benefits, not weight-related goals.


Help children connect the dots.

When it comes to healthy behaviors that you want your children to emulate, they look to you to set the tone. Help them connect the dots by talking about the results you experience from the health-related decisions you are making.

For example, if your lunch was from a fast food joint, and it made you sleepy and bloated later, say “I didn’t eat right at lunch, so I’m feeling sluggish.” Fast food = poor fuel.

If you had an energized day because you ate a wholesome breakfast, say, “I was at my best this morning because I ate a wholesome breakfast.” Healthy eating = Energy.

Or if your sleep was disturbed and you were cranky as a result. “I’m feeling a bit cranky today because I didn’t get enough sleep.” Getting enough sleep = emotional stability.

These statements help your child understand the connection between actions and results.

Additionally, show what it means to be a savvy consumer. When out shopping, read the nutrition labels to your child and then discuss them.

Talk about what you look for when you read the food labels. What prompts you to put a food item back on the shelf? And what convinces you to buy? Discuss your food selection process with your child.

Do the same as you prepare a meal together. Discuss what’s on the menu and why you are preparing it. These little moments are the ones that will shape their view on food, so they matter more than you might think.

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