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Why Children Should Learn Healthy Habits Early On

Photo: Courtesy of Kelly Sikkema

Jenna Wolfe

Host, Fox Sports

When I was growing up in the Caribbean, my parents encouraged a post-dinner routine that my brother and I absolutely loved. Once we finished eating, our parents took us outside for an activity of our choosing. Some nights we’d take a walk around the long block, or throw a football or play freeze tag. My brother and I would alternate picking out the activity. But we’d spend a good half-hour every night running around before coming in for the night.

It’s only recently — ever since having kids — that I realize that my parents were instilling an active routine in my life.

Healthy habits

As a working mother, I’m always thinking about how I can show (rather than tell) my kids that making healthy choices is a lifestyle, and not an obligation. It’s created by every day smart decisions. Harper (4) and Quinn (3) watch the way I exercise, the way I eat, the way I’m always so active. They don’t know anything other than this kind of lifestyle.

As a parent, I’ve taken “never” out of my vocabulary. I’d rather allow my children to enjoy what they’re craving, but provide a healthier alternative. When my little Harper wanted cookies last week, we spent the afternoon baking healthy oatmeal blueberry cookies. She got to have her treat and I got to make sure that treat wasn’t filled with sugar. Win-win.

Part of life

I try to make rules that work for my kids. For example, in our house, they know that the only snack they’re allowed to have while watching TV is fruit. We started this when they were young, and now they wouldn’t think to ask for anything other than fruit!

As parents we have to be creative, and come up with ways to motivate and engage our children to be active and to eat healthy. The more focus I put into finding activities my children enjoy, the more organic regular physical activity becomes.

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