What does it take to get kids excited about being healthy? As we enter the last month of summer and head towards school, I think it’s an important conversation to have, especially with the state of the world and the great potential that many schools will again be remote this year and not in person as they traditionally are. To be clear health is a multi-layered thing, consisting of relationships, nutrition, exercise, activities, sleep, cleaning, the mind, spirituality and more.
Of course one of the most important keys that can clue them in to not only how important health is but also help create excitement around it, are the adults in their lives. If they’re around adults who demonstrate a curiosity for the world, take pride in having a clean house, make an effort to eat well, spend time with people who are important to them, and have other health practices that they participate in, it’s the first step. These adults should also not complain about or experience a lot of dread and resistance around being healthy, it should be a normal and welcome part of their lives.
It’s also important to find a happy medium between what kids think are fun and healthy and what adults think are fun and healthy, which in and of itself is another great lesson to be teaching them. The world has come a long way in the past decades to where there are lots of creative ways to have fun and be healthy at the same time, which does make it a lot easier. And the lesson of balance between the healthy and the special treats is an important one to apply here because even the most disciplined adults who are well known for their healthy living practices still have fun and do some of the stuff that’s not so healthy.
What about getting kids excited? It’s hard to get them excited about stuff often because you’re not seeing things from their perspective, or not explaining your perspective in a way they can understand, or not leaning in when they do show interest in something healthy. In part this can be addressed by spending time together trying different things or just noticing what they’re sharing about and who they’re admiring. But winning the battle can be more valuable than winning the war, so if you’ve got a kid who’s passionate about nutrition and relationships but doesn’t really like really active physical activity (i.e. prefers walking and light swimming), work with them on it to get them doing the activities they do enjoy more consistently.
Ultimately it comes down to encouraging the fire and passion they have and not trying to put it out because it’s not in line with yours or you don’t understand it. Health is a life long journey with many parts, and each day we can learn something new or do a little better if we choose.