Set Family Routines
Helping children stay healthy in mind and body means providing healthier meals and
snacks, encouraging regular physical activity, and ensuring that they get enough
sleep. But our daily lives sometimes get in the way of our best intentions. Here
are a few tips, Building Blocks activities, and resources to help you take
small steps toward creating a healthy routine in your home.
- Set a consistent bedtime and stick to it.
- Read to children just before bedtime to emphasize the positive qualities of bedtime
as well as signal that it is time to sleep.
- End stimulating activities at least 1 hour before the set time for bed.
- Make sure the child has a positive sleep environment: no TV in the room and lights
are off or at least dim.
- Model good eating habits.
- Stock a healthy pantry for easy access to nutrition-rich foods and snacks.
- Be careful about portion size. Don’t insist that your children clean their plates,
especially if they say they are full.
- Never use food as a way to control behavior.
- Eat together regularly as a family, and eat at home more often.
- Engage in family activities around food: Shop and cook together, and have your children
choose a new food to try.
- Involve your children in planning and preparing meals. Children may be more willing
to eat dishes they help prepare.
- Teach children to
read nutrition labels and how to use them to make smart choices.
- Introduce new foods carefully: Serve one new food at a time, serve a new food with
other food the child already likes, and model good habits by eating the new food,
- Be a role model for your children. If they see you being physical active and having
fun, they are more likely to be active and stay active.
- Plan activities for all of your family members to exercise together: walks and fun
runs, chasing games, bike rides, jump rope, and swimming.
- Keep your activities fun and celebrate even the smallest of successes, such as walking
longer or jumping higher or longer than previous attempts.
- Encourage your children to find physical activities they enjoy, as they are more
likely to stick with them. Children who are active while they are young are more
likely to engage in sports activities when they are older and, thus, less likely
to engage in risky behaviors.
- Cut back on sedentary activities for the entire family, including spending
time in front of the television and the computer and playing videos and video games.
Building Blocks Activities
Use the Building Blocks
program and resources to help your children stay healthy. All of the materials needed
to help you start setting healthy routines for your family are available for free.
The Building Blocks Sing-Along
Music CD (PDF 512KB)
Your children can sing along with Wally Bear and his friends as the songs make eating
healthy, exercising, and feeling good about themselves easy and fun.
- “Smile at Your Neighbor”: When your children
start dancing with Wally Bear and his friends, they’ll not only get a good workout
but also feel good about themselves and everyone around them.
- “Power Positive”: Your children just
need just puff up their chests, pump up their arms, and strut to the music to understand
just how important self-confidence can be to their mental and physical well-being.
- “Healthy Snacks”: We all need “good food
to keep us in the saddle,” and this song lets your children know just what they
should and shouldn’t eat to stay healthy and alert.
Day in the Park (for 3- to 4-year-olds) (PDF 928KB)
The friends spend a day in the park together. See if your children can find all
of their healthy activities as you read the fun rhyming story.
What I Can Do! (for 5- to 6-year-olds) (PDF 951KB)
The friends show the kinds of healthy activities they can do—riding bikes in the
park, reading books from the library, and making healthy snacks for the family.
Each page encourages children to talk about their skills and abilities and challenges
them to do more.
(PDF 2.03MB) (Libro de actividades
Whether in English or Spanish, the Activity Book is an excellent
tool to help your family practice healthy habits.
“Power Positive” (pages 4 and 16)
emphasizes the things that children can do now and what new things
they can learn to do.
“Healthy Snacks” (pages 6 and 18) provides information
on good things to eat and how to make sure your children’s snacks are healthful.
“Moving in a Circle” (pages 8 and 20) allows your
children to sing and dance as they learn how different parts of their bodies move.
Know Kit Cards (ages
3–4 (PDF 1.75MB) and ages
5–6 (PDF 1.64MB))
Know Kit Cards, through colorful pictures and questions, provide discussion topics
to help explore your child’s world—body, mind, family, and friends. Questions and
activity suggestions help children expand their thinking and practice making their
own healthy decisions.
Additional Family Activities for Healthy Routines
- Keep a Sleep Diary
helps point out the importance of sleep and solve bedtime problems.
- Daily Exercise Chart helps
children keep track of the times and amount of physical activity they do and what
they do when they “get physical.”
- Move Your
Body Physical Activities for Children lists some games and activities that your
children will want to do regularly.
- Let’s Eat Healthy
Snacks suggests great ways to get your children to learn to love healthy snacks.
Online Children’s Games
Moving in Circle Game allows your children to sing and
dance with Thurgood.
Favorite Snacks Memory Game
challenges your children’s memory as it teaches about choosing and eating healthy
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Let’s Move! is
a comprehensive initiative, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, dedicated to
solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so that children
born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. This initiative
provides parents helpful information and tools to foster environments that support
We Can! Ways to Enhance
Children’s Activity & Nutritionis a national movement campaign that
provides parents with resources and tools to help children stay at a healthy weight.
“Sleep, Learning, and
the Developing Brain: Early-to-Bed as a Healthy and Wise Choice for School Aged
Children” (PDF 211KB) talks about the importance of sleep for normal health,
development, and academic performance of children.
National Institutes of Health
“Shape Your Family’s Habits”
suggests ways to encourage healthy habits in eating and physical activity and describes
the importance of caregivers in shaping those habits.
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