It’s Never Too Early to Start
The first few years–some experts say 5, some say 8–of any child’s life are the most important to the formation of their personalities, their habits, and their future development. Just like the foundation of a house, these first few years are the foundation of the child’s life. So it makes sense that starting your preschooler off with healthy habits is the best way to build a foundation for a life-long healthy lifestyle. That’s why when it comes to exercise, fitness, and good eating habits, it’s never too early to start.
- Preschool Fitness – You may think that your preschooler doesn’t really need any physical education. After all, preschoolers are little balls of energy, difficult to keep up with, and constantly on the go, right? You need to look at how many hours your preschooler is participating in sedentary activities. With entire television networks, websites, and computer software aimed at younger and younger children, your preschooler’s sedentary time may be more than you think. Preschool physical education doesn’t have to be anything formal or any big deal. Teach your child how to stretch, dance, wiggle, hop, skip, jump, swim, kick, catch, and throw. Family activities and fun times with other young friends can provide opportunities for teaching physical education with very little effort on your part. Get up, get out, get moving, and take them along for the fun ride! Taking advantage of all that energy, all that desire to run, play, and get noisy is the easiest way to ensure that your preschooler is truly active enough indeed.
- Preschool Nutrition – Kids will more often do as we do than they will do as we say. If we wish our kids to establish healthy eating habits, we need to model them ourselves. Put down the soda and pick up a glass of water. Serve fresh fruits or vegetables at every meal. Buy local, organic produce as much as possible. Make sure your diet has plenty of calcium for growing bodies and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for cell health and growth. What’s that you say? Your preschooler’s a picky eater? Kids will eat what you put in front of them and tell them to eat. If they have no other alternatives offered, they’ll learn to eat it, whatever it is. My kids ate Chinese and Indian cuisines, fish, veggies, and all sorts of fruits as preschoolers and they lived to tell about it. (They still enjoy those things, and often ask for them!) Make fast food, processed foods and carbonated, sugary drinks a rare treat and they’ll be forced to eat the healthy things you put in front of them or starve. It’ll probably be harder on you than them, but you’ll all get through it to happier, healthier rewards beyond!
Read this NPR article about how we Americans assume our kids are picky eaters and therefor cater to this, while French parents encourage their kids to try new things. If they like it, cool. If they don’t, fine. It’s all about opening their world to new experiences and not assuming the only thing their tastebuds can handle is mac n’ cheese.
Remember, your little ones look to you for cues and clues as to how to live. If you want them to be healthy, fit, and active, you’ve got to be that way, too. Sad, hard truth, maybe? But it is what it is.