If you’re a parent, you know the feeling of wanting nothing but the best for your child. Even if you’ve had a great childhood and have enjoyed much success in life, you want it to be even better for your child. Instilling knowledge and wisdom now will help them make good decisions and form healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Here are some ways to raise your child to make healthy choices.

Eat healthy
One of the most essential habits to instill in your child is healthy eating. There are to do this, but even following a few simple steps can get you started and make a world of difference. First, make a schedule and plan dinners. You have more control over the nutritional value of your meals when you plan in advance. It’s far too easy to get in the habit of going through the drive-through on your way home from dance rehearsal or soccer practice. If planning for a week is too overwhelming, start with planning dinners for two to three days.

Limiting junk food in the house is also important. If there are more fruits and vegetables, then your kids will naturally eat more of them. However, allow occasional treats. There’s nothing wrong with taking your kid to McDonald’s for lunch or going for doughnuts every now and then. Just make sure it’s a reward for healthy eating and not a daily occurence. Perhaps most importantly, be a good role model. Your kid watches everything you do, and yours will likely heavily influence their taste. So rather than just telling them that healthy food is good, show them by picking the salad over the fried chicken sandwich at the restaurant. And just because you’re eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t overeat. You can show your kids how to manage their portions by using a kitchen scale to weigh your food. The modern kitchen scale is surprisingly accurate and isn’t expensive.

Shop on a budget
Though it’s tricky, you can buy healthy foods for the entire family when you’re on a tight budget. Stock up on fruits and vegetables that are in season and freeze them. Try out new cuisines, such as Mexican and Indian dishes that call for inexpensive ingredients such as beans and rice. If possible, get what you need at the nearby ethnic market. Also, plan for creative and delicious ways to repurpose your leftovers.

Moderate caffeine intake
Sodas have been popular among kids for a long time, but the rise of energy drinks and coffee shops over the last decade is exposing kids to drinks with a higher caffeine content. While many believe that measured caffeine intake can have health benefits, it’s safe to say that it should be moderated. Over-consumption can lead to sleeplessness, high blood pressure and heart problems. It’s good to be mindful of the positive and negative aspects of caffeine when making decisions about your child’s intake.

Encouraging exercise
The digital age has brought with it many advantages and disadvantages for parents. Like with food and caffeine, screen time should be approached with moderation. Encouraging your kids to get outdoors and exercise is important to their overall health. While scheduling exercise time in advance can be helpful in ensuring it happens, don’t be afraid to switch up the routine and do spontaneous activities. Keep it for fun for you and your kid. Invite their friends over and make an evening of playing in the backyard, take the dog on a nature walk, have a scavenger hunt set up for when they get home from school and so on.

Stay involved
Staying involved and knowledgeable of your child’s daily activities is also crucial in helping you influence their habits. You want them to stay safe throughout their adolescence, and they will undoubtedly encounter opportunities to use drugs and alcohol. Things that can help with limiting your child’s temptation to experiment are: being a solid role model, setting reasonable boundaries, knowing who their friends are educating them about substances and keeping an open dialogue.

Parenting is one of the most challenging jobs out there, and no parent has ever done it perfectly. But there are some practical things to implement in your everyday life that will help your child make good decisions for the rest of their life. Eating healthy, moderating caffeine, encouraging exercise and staying involved in your child’s everyday life are all important steps to take when raising them to form healthy habits.

Source: Amanda Henderson of safechildren.info