Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Start Today: Healthy Habits

4 Straightforward Ways To Promote Your Kids' Health

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article

Your kids' health is their greatest asset, so how can you help promote positive physical and mental habits?

Though parents care about their kids' overall well-being, it's easy for us to get confused about the best ways to pave the path to a healthy lifestyle.

If you're determined to give your family a healthy start, you've probably read every parenting book on the market by now. You snatch up every article about kids' health with hungry enthusiasm, hoping to soak up as many new tidbits as you can.

There's just so much contradictory information out there, though. We all have so many new variables to contend with each time we make an effort to instill healthy habits in our families.

The good news is, you can relax a bit. A fine balance between being careful and carefree is what you need to succeed as a parent trying to raise a healthy family. Don't take every suggestion to heart: It may not be the right one for you. But just in case you're interested in what you might be doing right--or what you haven't thought to do for your kids yet--here are the top 4 most straightforward tips to help promote your kids' health.

1. Set A Good Example

Before you overload your brain with all the latest studies on childhood obesity, poor performance in school, and bad behavior, glance in the mirror. The person staring back at you is your child's most influential role model.

Don't kid yourself that your kids look up to their friends more than you. For typical kids, health is not a concern as much as it is for adults. They naturally emulate the adults around them, and you have been their direct influence for their entire life so far.

Psychologists stress the importance of being accessible to your children as a positive role model. What's the use of nagging your kids about the empty calories they chow down if you're the one buying the chips? In fact, studies show that "fat-shaming" combined with setting contradictory examples leads kids straight toward obesity.

If you're making your kids eat those veggies, put some on your plate too. Not just for show, either. Consistency is key in creating good habits.

Do you have a hidden stash of junk food for your own private midnight snacks? Get rid of it. Stock your cupboards with healthy snacks for everyone. If you want to fast track your kids' healthy lifestyles, don't buy them carrot sticks while replenishing your secret candy stash.

2. A Sit-Down Family Dinner-Without TV

When was the last time your family sat down to a dinner together?

A recent survey revealed that although most families would love to develop a dinner routine, only about 50 percent of Americans sit down together for a meal each night. what's more, if families do have dinner together, many tend to eat it in front of the TV.

Shut off the TV, set down the tablets, and eat. that's right--all it takes for a family to bond is a tech-free, leisurely hour and a table loaded with homecooked food.

Instead of eating a prepackaged DIY meal in front of a favorite show, take the time to cook and talk. You don't have to make everything from scratch if you're short on time or culinary skills. Just try to shoot somewhere between a gourmet 50's housewife meal and an individual frozen pizza at least some of the time.

And hey! If you need help in the kitchen, enlist your resident happy helpers. I know it's tough to concentrate on cooking with little ones under foot, but contributing to a meal in even the smallest way makes kids more eager to eat what's being made.

While you cook and eat, your kids can offload any concerns, frustrations or exhilaration on you. This way, you get to see to it that they eat a nutritious meal while reconnecting with them. What better way to promote your kids' health than by spending some quality time together?

3. Walk To The School Bus

Did you know?
In 2016, only 8.7 percent of American households weren't reliant on vehicles. The percentage of families without vehicles lessened by an average of 2 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Is your family reliant on vehicles?
If you live in a suburb, the answer is likely yes. Even if you're located in a less populated city, the answer may still be the same.

Cars are the central staple in most suburban families. Look around you. Do you see clusters of kids peddling down your street on their own or with parents? No. You're more likely to see them thumbing away at a tablet in the back of their moms' SUV's.

American kids know nothing of walking to school these days. Parents even insist on driving kids to their bus stop, sometimes because the stop is logistically too far to walk to, but sometimes, because it's just more convenient this way.

How about switching up the routine some of the time? Maybe a couple of days a week, you can walk your kids to their bus stop. Mild weather and parental supervision makes for a safe, purposeful bit of exercise.

Besides promoting your child's physical health, you can get in better shape as well. Did I mention it's also a good bonding opportunity?

4. Respect Your Kids

We all love our children. We care for their utmost well-being. but do we generally respect our kids?

That's one tip you wouldn't have received as a parent four decades ago. Respect is traditionally given to parents by their kids, and any other way is considered weak on the parents' part.

Yet, Dr. Maria Montessori, a physician and teacher of the early 20th century, said that the best way to teach children about respect is to grant it to them.

Showing a child respect doesn't mean you can never say no, or that you shouldn't have boundaries for them. Quite the opposite, actually. Boundaries are important, but they can be enforced in a calm, respectful manner.

Children thrive on mutual respect. Their confidence flourishes, which is a great boost for their mental health.

One small way to shower your child with respect is to commit to a calmer discipline style. Many of us get so frustrated that we end up yelling at little ones after every transgression.

If you want to cut yelling out of the equation, take a few minutes to calm down before disciplining. Of course, this may not always be possible, but it's a good goal to work toward. Also, when speaking to your child, get on their level and look them straight in the eye. this naturally helps you gain a calmer tone, and it makes your child pay better attention to what you're saying.

What Do You Do To Promote Your Kids' Health?

Following these 4 tips may not magically alter your family's health, but it will gradually shift them (and yourself) toward healthier habits.

How do you raise a healthy family? Feel free to share your own tips and tricks.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.