1. Keep Oneself Clean
Learning to keep one's body clean is a surefire way to remain healthy. And handwashing tops the list of healthy habits children should learn for one simple reason: Doing it often - and doing it right - can reduce the number of colds, flu, and other infections children get by 50%!
Parents can impart these hand-washing how-tos to their kids through these simple steps: Use warm water and soap, and scrub for at least 20 seconds (that's about the time needed to sing 'Happy Birthday' twice). Rub fronts and backs of hands, and between every little finger. Rinse thoroughly, and dry hands on a clean towel. Easy peasy.
Healthy eating can help children feel good, stay at or reach a healthy weight, and have lots of energy for school and play. And instilling a routine of regular mealtimes in childhood can help make it more likely that your kids will continue this good habit when they are older.
First and foremost, don't skip breakfast. Going without breakfast correlates with four times the likelihood of obesity! Also, eat as a family as often as possible and keep family meals pleasant and positive. Limiting sweet drinks and encouraging them to drink water when they are thirsty will be useful too, while offering lots of vegetables and fruits every day at the same time.
3. Enjoy Physical Activities
I guess there isn't a need to explain how being sedentary will snowball into an unhealthy lifestyle as one grows older. Get the kids off the sofa and out of the door by planning for times for everyone to get moving together.
Take walks, go swimming, go wild at the playgrounds or simply just play hide-and-seek - encourage physical activities that the kids really enjoy. Staying healthy and active then becomes easier to maintain. And eventually, everyone will benefit from the exercise and the time together.
Learning to read is one of a child's greatest learning milestones. So not only is developing strong reading skills an essential component of a child’s success in school and at work later in life, the love for reading will hopefully fuel his/her thirst for knowledge while growing up.
Experts suggest that daily reading to children should begin by six months of age, and that daily family reading routines help with children’s literacy development. Choose books that your kids like so that they view reading as a treat rather than a chore, and keep them supplied with appealing titles that make them want to read more.
5. Stay Positive
A healthy mind translates to a healthy well-being. As kids, it may be easy for them to get discouraged when things do not go their way. Learning about resilience starts from young, and parents can show them the importance of staying positive in order to overcome disappointments and setbacks.
Kids, not only adults, can benefit from positive relationships so help your kids develop healthy self-esteem and a positive mindset by teaching them they are lovable, capable, and unique, regardless of whatever challenges they encounter.
At the end of the day, our kids learn habits - both good and bad - from us parents because surprise surprise, they do what they see we do, not what we say. Small people learn by imitation. So only by setting a good example ourselves, that we will be able to teach them the effectiveness of these healthy habits.
This article first appeared on Yahoo! Singapore Parenting section, as part of my monthly contributions to the website.