You’ve probably heard someone say that kids are like sponges. And if you haven’t heard that, then you’ve definitely witnessed a kid say or do something that they clearly learned from adults who didn’t know young eyes were watching them. The way that kids repeat the behaviors of adults they love gives all of us a responsibility to help them create healthy habits and practices that will set them up for success in life. If they see us doing healthy things, they will be more likely to do healthy things and vice versa.
2023 can be the year that you set healthy resolutions like balancing your diet, adding exercise to your daily routine, cleaning up your budget or keeping your house clean. And, kids can be your partners in achieving these goals. Having other people working toward the same goal as you will help keep you both on track. So, partner with your kids to set healthy goals this year using these five tips!
Set child-sized goals.
If your goals are really big and seem out of reach, you’re more likely to stop trying on your way to reaching them. At the Wellness and Stress Clinic, we recommend setting small goals that are immediately doable. This can prevent discouragement and help you feel accomplished at the end of the day. Here are a few examples of realistic, child-sized goals that can contribute to your health:
- Read together for 15 minutes a day.
- Play outside or walk for 20 minutes.
- Add one green food to your dinner plate each night.
- Visit the library once a week and check out a book.
- Clean one thing in your house each night.
- Cut screen time back by 30 minutes.
- Put $15 into a savings account each week.
Focus on the action, not the outcome.
If you read the resolutions above, you might think that they don’t sound like normal resolutions. We don’t recommend you set a goal for weight loss, the amount of money to save over the year or similar long-term goals. When you focus on the action and not the outcome, you are creating healthy habits. Over time, those healthy habits can lead to great outcomes! Take a look at some of the outcomes that could come from the goals we listed above:
- Reading together can help create a closer bond and expand a child’s understanding of the English language.
- Playing outside and walking regularly can increase your cardiovascular fitness, combat chronic conditions like hypertension and support weight loss.
- Adding green foods to your diet can lower your cholesterol and contribute to a more balanced diet.
- Visiting the library can help you learn about new topics and increase literacy among kids.
- Cleaning one thing in your house can help prevent damage to your home (which adds expenses) and can reduce the likelihood that kids living in your house will develop asthma.
- Cutting screen time can create time for family conversations, build relationships, help your vision and reduce overall stress.
- Putting $15 into savings each week can help you save $780 over the course of a year.
Make them fun.
When your resolutions feel like a chore, you’re less likely to do them. That’s why making your resolutions fun can completely change the way you look at them! Using the same resolutions above, here are some ways to make your goals fun:
- Read about different topics each week, and let the kids in your life choose the topics. Even things like comic books can provide great reading lessons!
- Swap out a walk for a family race. You can have a mini-Olympics in your own front yard, with awards for the best sprinters, distance runners, long jumpers and more! Any movement you can do is good for your health.
- Search for recipes together that use green foods in unique ways – like broccoli tots!
- Do a scavenger hunt at the library. Ask each kid you bring to find a book to read that is a specific color. Watch them enjoy the search as they try to find the perfect book!
- Cleaning can totally be a game! Challenge kids to see who can make their bed the fastest. You can be the final judge to make sure they did a good job.
- Swap screen time for a family game. Dominoes, cards or board games are fun and create great family bonding time.
- It can be fun to see your savings add up! Put a savings jar in a prominent place in your home and make a celebration out of every time you add money.
Track progress together.
Use a whiteboard, bulletin board, magnets on the fridge or a calendar to track your progress. It is so encouraging to look back at the end of the month and see how much you’ve accomplished together. Kids love to contribute to these things, so let them fill out your progress board each night. They’ll look forward to showing off how they’re building healthy habits!
Change your goals as they become comfortable.
When you focus on the action and not the outcome, you can increase your goal as it becomes comfortable! Goals are meant to push you, so if you find that you’re breezing past your goal, it might be time to make things more challenging. You may find that you want to spend even more time reading together each night. If that’s the case, up your goal to 30 minutes a night. Maybe you feel like you can save more money – if that’s the case, change your goal to $25 a week. Making even small increases to your goal can have a huge difference! For example, if you save $25 a week instead of $15, you’ll go from saving $780 to $1,300 just by saving $10 more a week.
You can do it!
Getting healthy can feel totally out of reach, especially if focusing on your health isn’t something you grew up doing. But you don’t have to make drastic changes overnight to feel a major improvement in your health. By partnering with kids and making small changes to your life, you can really make a difference in your health while also making an impact on the next generation.