Body: Be Your Child’s Health Coach
Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada
Children look up to their dads. As a dad and a role model, you can help your child learn to have a healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising regularly. Physical activity and healthy eating are excellent ways to reduce stress and model healthy habits.
Help support your child’s healthy development and habits by staying on top of yours. Have fun and be active: Try to be flexible and enjoy your time with your child. Encourage your child to do energetic activity every day. Being active helps you and your child to deal with stress and other emotions too. This is important for all of you!
Be active. Physical activities develop strength, coordination, confidence, and are part of helping maintain a healthy weight. They also influence your child’s health and wellbeing and will encourage your child to stay active as they get older. Search “Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines” on www.canada.ca for more information on being active.
Do it together. Go on walks, take bike rides, play in the snow, go skating or go swimming. Active children need a way to let out their energy. Allow for movement in your child’s day. Have your toddler walk with you - pushing the stroller sometimes. Take the elevator. Take the stairs. Less active children may need some encouragement. Make a game of it. Hop like a bunny from the kitchen to the bedroom or do jumping jacks before getting dressed.
Be involved. Go out in the community. You and your child can meet new people and learn new skills at the playground.
Limit “screen time”. Keep television, computer use, and gaming to a minimum. Screen time for children younger than 2 years is not recommended. For children aged 2 to 5 years, limit routine or regular screen time to less than 1 hour per day.
Eat well, and watch the snacks. Help your child learn healthy eating habits. Your job as a parent is to set regular meal and snack times. Your child’s job is to decide how much to eat. We all need a balanced diet. Share mealtimes and eat with your child. Avoid snacking while watching TV because people tend to eat snacks higher in sugar and fat while doing so. Have a bowl of fruit in front of you instead.
Relax and sleep. Make sure you and your child get enough sleep. Your physical and mental health relies on being rested. Slow down, snuggle and read a book together.
Be a healthy role-model. As a dad you set the example for your child.
Fun & Easy Activities
Role playing is important for your child to learn how the world works. Play restaurant during meal time or just when your child wants to pretend. It is a great way to encourage healthy eating. Turn your kitchen into a healthy food restaurant. Here are a few ideas to help you along:
- Let your child name your restaurant. You cannot have a restaurant without a name!
- Staff your restaurant. You can be head chef and your child can be the host, wait staff, and assistant chef. If you really are preparing supper or just playing restaurant, your child will love taking part and it is a great way to spend time together. You can even dress up with hats and aprons!
- Make menus. It would not be a restaurant without one! Cut out pictures from flyers or help your child write the options. Take a picture of your family’s favourite healthy meal to use on the menu next time. Make boxes in the menu of each food group; vegetables, protein, fruits, milk, bread. To help encourage well balanced choices, customers must choose at least 1 item from each category.
- Run your restaurant. Have fun with your staff taking orders. Lots of learning can happen here too. They will learn about food choices, portion size and even math! Serve the food together.
- Take a break. Restaurant staff need breaks, so everyone should sit and eat together.
- Don’t forget to pay! After eating everyone will have to pay their bill too - you can use play money or make your own together and save it for next time.
- Clean up together. When everyone is finished eating and paying, your staff can help clear the table and do the dishes. Even toddlers can help load the dishwasher. It's a great way to teach responsibility and cooperation too.
Activity adapted from: A to Z Activities for Kids and Parents to Enjoy Together
The Public Health Agency of Canada gratefully acknowledges the collaboration and expertise of Dad Central Canada (www.dadcentral.ca) and their national network in the development of the Nobody’s Perfect tipsheets for dads.
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