Have you ever heard the old saying that healthy families start at home? It’s true. Researchers have discovered that much of what our children learn in development is gained by observation and imitation of you! Which is great news because it means that as parents, when we adopt healthy habits we can model good behavior for the entire family to follow. To have a healthy family; we must lead them in healthy ways which means that if you aren’t healthy yourself we can’t expect the family to be.
So how can you get started building a foundation for a healthy family?
- Take the lead. Even if you are just getting started on involving the family, being a role model can make a lasting impact. Talk with the family about your healthy food choices, activity, and other healthy habits.
- Do it together. One of the easiest ways to get the entire family onboard is to involve them. Start small and work your way up over time. Ideas include a healthy meal night, preparing meals as a family, limiting screen time, taking a walk after dinner, and incorporating fun games throughout the weekend.
- Set goals together: Some families find that having a goal chart or sticker board helps everyone stay on track. Make a goal as a family for the week and then keep track together to help the whole family reach their goals. Just remember to keep the goals SMART which stands for specific, measurable, appropriate, realistic, and timely.
- Celebrate your success: Each time the family meets a healthy goal together regardless of how small or big, celebrate. For example, if you meet your step goal for the day or make half the plate fruits and vegetables, celebrate the choices to reinforce the positive behaviors. It’s also important to be honest with the family and not let them become discouraged when they face obstacles. As a family sit down and discuss ways to overcome challenges in the future
- Do less telling and more role modeling: Try using positive reinforcement instead of negative on your family’s journey to healthier habits. Rather than telling the family to take a walk each evening, respect their choice to join or not and offer or just lead by example. Over time they may see your healthy habits and decide to join you.
Alliance for a Healthier Generation: www.healthiergeneration.org/live_healthier/be_a_role_model/lead_by_example/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/family/index.htm
US Department of Health and Human Services: https://health.gov/paguidelines/blog/post/the-family-plan.aspx