We rang in 2016 with celebrations and declarations of “new year, new me!”, deciding to finally drop that ten pounds, or go after that job of our dreams, or do more volunteer work. But in this time of self improvement, there’s an opportunity to teach valuable life lessons to our children as well. Our little ones are always growing, and learning methods of self improvement now will be beneficial to them later on in life. Here are some suggestions of how you can help your kids EvOLvE in the new year.
1.) Reduce screen time.
Yes, in the digital age, it’s getting harder and harder to not be looking at a screen every hour of the day. With jobs, it’s even harder for a lot of us. But for kids, especially, it’s important to set time aside for off screen activity. For one hour a day, reading a book, playing outside, doing some arts and crafts, sand or water play, or cooking a meal with family, is a great way to disconnect from the web. Not to mention, this is a great time for you to get some away-from-keyboard time as well. You may also consider having your kids "earn" their screen time by reading books or doing chores. This method teaches kids that screen time is a privilege, not a right, and can incentivize preferred behaviors (like cleaning their room or reading to their little sibling). Go play!
2.) Eliminate wrappers.
Kids like snacks. Especially the kind that come in shiny, colorful packaging. But most of those snacks come loaded with sugar, fat, and lots of empty carbohydrates. For 2016, get kids eating healthy snacks that come in edible wrappers. No, we don’t mean these, (although, they are pretty cool). We mean fruit. Bananas are great on the go, with zero mess. They can get bruised and black, but consider getting a banana keeper. They protect the fruit so it will remain “kid approved” all day. Or, try a peanut butter banana quesadilla! You can add spices like cinnamon, ginger, or cardamom to give this classic a flavorful twist. For those who like the sweeter things in life, add honey! Apples also offer great portability, and there’s an apple to suit nearly every taste profile! Well, except salty, but sliced apples dipped in salted caramel are a match made in heaven. This healthy snack drawer is genius! Kids are increasingly busy with day to day activities, so let’s make healthy eating a breeze!
3.) Establish happy mental health habits.Your kids work hard. In school to keep up good grades, at home to help out around the house, in extracurricular activities, and some of our older ones are even balancing part time jobs, college applications, and relationships on top of it all. But every now and then, everybody gets stressed. Even our kids, who like to feel invincible. It’s important to teach younger and older children alike that stress is alright as long as you find healthy ways to alleviate it. Teaching children to recognize their personal reactions to stress is a key part of establishing emotional resilience in young people. Coaching kids on how to manage their stress, create methods of tackling large to do lists, and never be afraid to ask for help when needed is how we get healthy, emotionally stable, and happy children.
4.) Reinforce healthy sleep habits.
You think they’ve gone to bed hours ago, but when you walk past their bedroom door, you see it: a little blue glow peeking out from beneath the blankets. It’s 11:00PM, and you can practically already hear the meltdown you are in store for if these little monkeys don’t get some sleep, STAT! The best way to combat after-hours web surfing is to leave all electronic devices in the living room, or another place away from sleeping areas. Make bedrooms a phone free zone, and keep chargers in community areas. Keep lots of reading material, or small notebooks around, for some wind-down activities before it’s time to sleep. Looking at a screen too close to bedtime leads to less restful sleep, while reading before bed reduces insomnia.
5.) Teach accountability.
We hear it all the time from our kids, “but he started it!” It’s time we start asking “what did you do to end it?” Pointing the finger is a tough habit to break. But if we start teaching children how to take responsibility for their actions, and that they have no control over what anyone else does, only how they react to it, it’s a lesson they will take with them all through adulthood.
6.) Teach bravery.
Many things in a kids life takes courage. Trying out for the school play or sports team, making friends in a new school, taking on new responsibilities around the house, or asking for new privileges. In doing all of these things, they are bound to fail at some point. As hard as it is as a parent to watch your kids struggle, it is important to remember that they’re not going to die, and the world is not going to come crashing down. They may feel hurt for a little while, and that’s justified. But teaching our little ones to bounce back from the “no”, will make rejection a tool for success later in life.
7.) Teach kindness.
Just like it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, it takes much more energy to be mean than to be nice. From complimenting someone’s outfit, or piece of work they produce, to holding the door for someone, or helping someone with a heavy box, or even just smiling at someone, being nice is easy. A wise person once said, “You can tell a lot about a person's character by how they treat someone who can provide nothing for them”. When kids learn to be nice to everyone, not just those they want to be liked by, it builds great character, and will most likely lead to your kid being pretty popular anyway. Win-win!
8.) Teach the importance of taking care of your body.
While health and wellness comes in all shapes ans sizes, physical fitness is always important to maintain health of mind and body and manage stress. Encourage your little one to join a sport at school, or take up a physical hobby, like rollerblading, mountain biking, gymnastics or dance! Dance is fantastic way to improve coordination, memory, and self confidence. Get your little ones moving in 2016, with our toddler dance classes, and dance classes for kids aged 4-12! Schedule a risk free trial class today.
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