​It’s safe to say that every parent wants their kids to eat healthfully and get enough exercise. Yet it’s a losing battle for many, as childhood obesity rates are on the rise.

So what’s a parent to do? One of the most powerful ways you can instill healthy habits in your child(ren) is to follow them yourself. As you are likely well aware, children are highly observant. They tend to follow the example, and footsteps, of the adults in their lives – which means that YOU are their main influence when it comes to exercise and eating habits.

So, if you’re not currently eating or moving the way you want your child to, it’s time to start. If you’re already active and eating your veggies, great – you’re well on your way.

5 Ways to Help Your Child Establish Healthy Habits

Regardless of your starting point, here are five ways you can help influence your child’s healthy habits for the better:

1. Treat exercise as a privilege – not a punishment

If you want your children to WANT to move, it’s important that you show them it’s not a chore. Make sure they know that you feel lucky to be able to move and feel strong – and keep really positive about your workouts.

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When your children see you enjoying movement and working out, they'll want to join in!

2. Look for fun ways to move as a family

Go for a walk after dinner (or bust out the scooters or bikes). For playdates and errands, try walking instead of driving if possible.

3. Don’t use treats as a reward or distraction

Many people who overeat junk food do so because, somewhere along the line, sweet and/or salty foods have been associated with comfort or a reward. Instead, emphasize balance and moderation.

4. Talk about the benefits of the foods you’re eating

Kids don’t often understand what we mean when we say something is ‘healthy’. So be specific! Tell them that salmon will help make their brains strong, and chicken is good for their muscles. If you don’t have a great understanding of food nutrients yourself, you can learn together. Thanks to the Internet, all this information is available at the click of a button.

5. Never criticize your body in front of your children

Instead, show them that you appreciate your body, and emphasize the things you love and appreciate about it (that your legs are strong enough to keep up when you run alongside their bike; that you’re able to piggyback them up the stairs every night, etc.).

A Nielsen Fitness personal trainer can help you stay on track with your exercise routine and encourage your children to do the same.

Prioritize Your Own Health

One of the greatest ways you can show your child that you prioritize your own fitness is to have a trainer come into your home in Toronto,. We always welcome children into our clients’ workouts – as observers, helpers, and – sometimes – even a participant here and there. If you’d like to know more, please feel free to contact us  to arrange a free consultation and first workout.

Updated on January 10, 2023.