How to Get Your Kids to Make Healthy Choices
The older your kids get, the more choices they have to make. Late night soccer practices, sleepovers, and summer camps all provide an array of options for your little ones. Food is one way for them to test their boundaries and assert their independence, which is a good thing! And with a little preparation and support, we can help guide their decisions toward the healthful:
Try to provide an array of options at meal times. This doesn’t have to mean more work for you, and to be honest, the options don’t all have to be extremely healthy. But giving your little ones choices from a young age teaches them to be in control of what goes into their bellies. Making a salad? Don’t throw it all together! Put each different component into a little dish and let your kids choose which items to dip into dressing. Making sandwiches? Same idea!
Go grocery shopping with your kids. I know. It can be really stressful, especially when they are pulling things off the shelves and melting down when you won’t buy them the jumbo bag of candy they want. But taking a tour of the produce department can spark fun conversations and curiosity in kids. Let them pick out the veggies for dinner, even if they aren’t the ones you usually gravitate toward. When children get to make decisions about the foods they eat, they will be more likely to enjoy them on their own.
Get in the kitchen together. Again, I know it can be stressful. But if your kids are at all interested in being in the kitchen with you, give them a job to do and reap the rewards at dinner time.
Be kind. As much as we are tempted to get down on our kids for making “bad” decisions about food, the bigger a deal we make about it, the most self-conscious they can become. If you can, talk to your kids about what makes them feel good, rather than what is “good” for them. When food is divided into “good” and “bad”, we can associate behaviors and actions with those sentiments, too, and that doesn’t help anyone!