We plead with them to eat their vegetables. We chase them away from the video games and out into the sunshine. They do not understand that we do this for their health and they probably do not 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 probably don’t 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 the seriousness of child obesity, but kids are not wired for absorbing sober advice. If you explain that regular exercise is important for the body and mind, they probably won’t doubt it, but they simply don’t process information like adults.
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 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 is not complicated but it does mean developing a long-term strategy. Start with simple ideas 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 are not interested in workouts at the gym, but dance lessons or martial arts classes get them moving.
National Child Health Day is an opportunity to shake up our creativity and wake up our imaginations. Our kids’ health depends on it and we can’t let them down. It is as simple as eating carrots and flying kites.