“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for LISTERINE. I received samples for this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.”
Whether you are trying to convince your teenager that flossing has long term benefits or trying to teach your 2nd grader how to read a chapter book, it’s important to find ways to motivate kid to pursue healthy habits. You might choose to pay your kids with money, rewards or just try to teach them to do the right things because it’s the right thing, there are some universal ways to motivate your kids. Maybe some of these ideas will help you motivate your kids to make healthy habit choices!
How to Keep Kids Motivated about Healthy Habits
There have been countless articles, books and studies on how long you have to do something before it will actually become habit. All I know is that the more you do something, the more natural the activity becomes. As adults, we don’t think twice about putting on deodorant, taking a shower, brushing our teeth or using Listerine. We read our daily newspaper or walk the dog every night without thinking about it. It’s just a natural thing to do.
Kids need to be taught and motivated to start and continue these habits that make for a strong, healthy lifestyle.
When people hear that we offer incentives for our kids, they sometimes assume we are using money to bribe our kids to do what we want. But kids are motivated by more than money. Our school participates in the AR (Accelerated Reader) program where kids read books, then take a short computer quiz to earn points. These points accumulate and help them earn prizes. When they reach a goal they may be eligible for a new pencil or earn a homework pass.
Our local library offered an incentive for tweens to read this summer. They played a game of BINGO where each square represented a book in a different genre or by a particular type author. My daughter was the lucky winner of this game! She loved reading the books and was motivated by the potential to win a gift basket!
What kind of incentives can you offer kids? Small gifts like erasers, pencils, bookmarks, homework pass, a piece of gum, extra 15 minutes of outside play, the chance to choose dinner, or an extra book before bed are all great options.
Talk about Why It’s Important….But….
Many parents want to make sure their kids understand the WHY behind the activity. Yes, it’s very important to take the time to explain why it’s important to floss their teeth every night. Kids and teens need to have the chance to ask Why and get definite answers. But don’t expect them to remember the benefits. It may not be wise to let your young children watch certain shows before bedtime. You can explain the reasoning (too much excitement, too many bright lights, not good story line for dreams, etc….), but in the end it has to be a decision that is made for their good health.
Remember the 2005 Nanny McPhee movie where the Nanny asks if the children are well behaved, go to bed or say please and thank you? This is a great clip that reminds us that kids need to be taught the right behaviors. They must be taught the habits that make for a healthy lifestyle.
Teach by Example
Do you floss your teeth every night? Do you read books? Exercise regularly? Go outside and work in the yard? What kind of example are our kids seeing? As parents, we must make sure we are modeling the healthy habits we want our kids to live. The nightly sound of me flossing my teeth is a household joke. For some reason, I think my head must be hollow. When I floss, it makes noise. My family may laugh at me, but they know that it is important because they see (and hear) me leading by example.
My kids are not expert flossers yet. But they are learning. I still help my 7 year old because when he uses the floss, it’s just not as effective. I have seen that he has an easier time with the soft woven floss that doesn’t break as easily.
My kids see me drinking water every day. I always have a glass of ice water with a lemon slice sitting on the counter. They know that Mom thinks it’s important because it’s a common thing they see.
I always have a book by my bed with a bookmark showing how far I have gotten. They know that reading is important because they see us enjoying various types of books!
What healthy habits do you want your kids to learn? Got any tips for helping to motivate them to make those healthy choices?