We plead with them to eat their vegetables. We chase them away from the video games and out into the sunshine. They don’t really understand that we do this for their health, and they probably don’t know much about National Child Health Day.
The first Monday of each October is the perfect opportunity to get the kids excited about everything from playing with the right foods to hiking on a crisp autumn day.
Children may not care that Calvin Coolidge issued the first proclamation for this day back in 1928, but they can enjoy the idea that healthy habits for kids are actually a lot of fun.
They will listen to statistics about child obesity and how it has become a serious problem in this country, but kids are not wired for absorbing sober advice. Explain that regular exercise is important for the body and mind. They don’t doubt it, but they don’t process information like adults.
We can take this day and make it a teaching moment that communicates with more than words.
Carrots are delicious with a little salad dressing, and healthy crunching is really satisfying. Kite flying is still a great activity, and it keeps young muscles toned and fit. Reading a favorite book under the shade tree beats staring at the monotonous glow of a computer screen.
Establishing healthy habits for kids isn’t complicated, but it does mean developing a long-term strategy. Start with simple ideas, build on them, and turn them into enjoyable routines. The trick is understanding that kids are not going to embrace an overnight conversion from french fries to health foods.
If they put their small hands into the fun of a family garden and the joy of its harvest, fresh vegetables take on a new appeal. Children aren’t interested in workouts at the gym, but dance lessons or martial arts classes get them moving.
National Child Health Day is an opportunity to wake up our imaginations and shake up our creativity. Our kids’ health depends on it, and we can’t let them down. It’s as simple as a plate full of carrots and flying a kite.