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Teaching kids healthy habits

July 21, 2012

Making kids move: You lead, they’ll follow. Make yourself their hero.

Get them off the couch and teach them a healthy lifestyle

The World Health Organization (WHO) cites childhood obesity as one of the 21st century’s most serious public health challenges. In Malaysia, the problem of obesity in children is affecting 15 percent of the toddlers and preschoolers, while 30 percent of primary school children are believed to be overweight, according to the Malaysian Association for the Study of Obesity (MASO).

Like everything else with kids, children learn by following examples. So what better way to get them off the couch and be active than having you to lead them down that road? Even if you’re not born an athlete, these simple ideas are fun and easy, and easily incorporated into your everyday lifestyle. The trick is to remember that kids are full of energy; don’t fight to contain it, but use it to encourage them to move and exercise.

You move, they move: Kids idolise their parents. If they see you jog, or do push-ups or ride a bike, the want to emulate the behaviour. They don’t have to do them perfectly, and they’ll probably have their own versions of the exercise. The most important thing to remember is to let them see you move.

Turn it off: The TV, the laptop, the iPad. Of course they can have their time on the screen and gadgets on the weekends, but when you’re fixing dinner and need to have them occupied, send them outside. Have them play catch with the dog, or water the plants (they can have their own potted plants). Or, let them burn off that energy by just running around the yard.

Simply toys: Forget hi-tech toys and gadgets that encourage kids to stay sedentary. Instead, get them balls, hula hoops, racquets and anything that can get them moving. They’re not only cheaper than an electronic toy, but they can be picked up just about anywhere.

Praise them: Just like you praise your children for good behaviour, encourage them when they do a somersault, or when they show you how fast they can run. Positive reinforcements will encourage them to do the activity more. And you don’t really sing them praises when all they do is watch TV or play with the iPad. So let them know you’re proud of them when they are active and playful.


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