Developing healthy habits at an early age is one of the keys to success later in life. This is the primary reason why the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) has been developed. This framework intends to provide teachers and parents with the utilities and skills required when supervising children within educational settings. While learning tends to represent the focus of this approach, we must remember that children will require additional guidance from their parents when developing positive lifestyle habits. One concern involves healthy eating for children.
We are all aware that it can be quite difficult to convince children that certain foods are better than others. Anyone who has succumbed to their “sweet tooth” in the past appreciates this observation. Are there any ways in which parents can encourage children to eat healthy foods without inadvertently causing bad habits to develop in the future? This question warrants a closer look.
Become a Model for Healthy Eating Habits
Children are naturally inclined to mimic the actions of their parents. So, it only stands to reason that parents who eat healthy are much more likely to pass this trait on to their young ones. Express a delight for certain foods and encourage your child to do the same.
Eat Together with the Family as Often as Possible
Although it can sometimes be difficult to schedule a family dinner in these hectic times, this is another important strategy to adopt whenever possible. Interestingly enough, some studies have shown that families which eat together on a regular basis adopt healthier diets alongside with an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. In the same respect, include your children when shopping for groceries. This exposes them to a variety of different foods.
Do Not Use Food as a Reward
One portion of the EYFS learning journey involves appreciating the talents of a child as well as any skills that may require improvement. This is equally relevant in terms of healthy eating. In the event that a child performs well at a certain tasks (such as phonics or maths), avoid employing food as a direct reward. This somewhat “Pavlovian” strategy could actually backfire, as it may lead the child to believe that some substances are more desirable than others. Of course, giving a child a lollipop after a doctor’s visit is still fine!
The Occasional Treat Goes a Long Way
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. This phrase is somewhat relevant when discussing healthy foods. Eating healthy on a 24/7 basis can become very boring and potentially erode the lessons that you are trying to teach. This is why there is nothing wrong with treating your child to a sweet dessert on occasion. However, keep these instances to a minimum. You might also choose to replace a sugar-laden snack with an equally sumptuous plate of sliced fruits. Either way, your child will begin to associate these small treats with a positive overall experience.
Above all, be patient. Developing healthy eating habits will require a bit of time. Your child will certainly thank you later in life!