With 40 percent of all adults in the United States being officially labeled as obese, it makes us dads worry a bit. We do not want our young sons or daughters to learn bad habits early on in life that will lead to weight problems. Excess pounds can develop into serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. A little preventative care can go a long way to ensure your toddler has a good chance at being healthy and fit for life.
Set a Good Example
This might hit close to home for many of you fathers, but you can’t talk the talk if you don’t walk the walk. This means that if you are overweight or clinically obese, then no matter how much you tell your children that they have to eat right and stay active, you are actively setting a bad example for them. The whole “Do as I say, not as I do” concept is not the correct way to raise a child. It may mean making some big changes in your current lifestyle, but if it can help guarantee that you will be around in later years for your family, then it is something that you need to do.
Take Your Children to the Park
I grew up in a family of eleven, so I always had a lot of playmates and kept active most of the time. My brothers and sisters all helped each other stay fit just by playing sports against one another frequently. This is a good thing because my parents were not active themselves. The problem occurs when you don’t have nine brothers and sisters that will keep you on the go.
This means that, as a father, you should be taking them to the park, the basketball courts, soccer fields, and the baseball diamond. Don’t just be a bystander while you are there either. Play the sports with the kids even if you look a little silly playing soccer with a 5 years old. Not only will it start them on the road for a healthy lifestyle, but they will remember these memories for the rest of their lives. Creating great memories as a father is what it is all about.
Eliminate Certain Foods and Drinks in the House
While we can’t always control what happens in the world around us, we do have a bit of a say on what happens inside our house. Your child may be tempted heavily with fatty foods and drinks at fast-food restaurants, but they shouldn’t be tempted with the food that you have inside the house. Eliminate unhealthy foods and drinks and replace them with healthier alternatives. Get rid of that soda that is always in your fridge and put some juice and water in its place. Take out those pastries and candy and replace them with fruits that are much better for yourself and the children. If you start introducing these foods and drinks to them early in life, they will start requesting an apple or banana instead of Little Debbie Snack Cakes.
Educate Them on Nutritional Values
As an elementary school teacher that works with young children, I often talk in the classroom about how to stay healthy and fit. Just telling the students that certain foods are bad for them did not produce the results I wanted. Instead, I taught them about nutritional values and reading the back of packages in an effort to show them why the foods were so unhealthy. It is quite eye opening for the kids when they see that there are 39 grams of sugar in each serving of their favorite soda. Weighing out 39 grams of sugar on a scale and actually showing them the large amount of it can be a bit of a scared straight program, but it works!
Make Physical Fitness a Priority at Home
If your child is like most, they like to demonstrate that they are improving at things whenever possible. You have probably heard the, “Look, dad! I can do this!” enough times already to last a lifetime. By creating a simple routine of exercises and documenting with them how they are improving, they will want to continue doing it. You don’t need to tell them to drop and give you twenty. There are alternatives to basic training style fitness. Have them run around the outside of the house a few times and record their time. Ask them to do as many sit-ups as they can in a minute. See how many push-ups they can do in thirty seconds. Once again, by documenting everything, they will want to eclipse their previous highs each time. Exercise will become fun for them.
This blog is part of Fathers Incorporated’s Drive To Five campaign. The campaign design seeks to reduce father absence by engaging dads at the early stages of their child’s development, which makes them more likely to continue their involvement through all of the stages of their development. For more information visit http://www.drivetofive.org
Don’t just send your kids out to play, but when you have time, get physical with them! Kick the soccer ball, do some jumping jacks, ask them to lead an obstacle course or simply go for a hike or bike ride. These outdoor moments are magical because we’re exposed to nature, and off of our screens.