(BPT) - Adjusting to school schedules can be difficult. Healthy habits are often forgotten as the focus shifts to studies, assignments, and extracurriculars.
Registered dietitian and mom Deanna Segrave-Daly offers 6 tips to help encourage kids to build healthy habits:
Prioritize Sleep: kids need significantly more sleep than adults to support their rapid mental and physical development, according to the National Sleep Foundation. School-age children should strive for 9-11 hours of sleep each night.
Good Breakfast: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day - especially for kids. Help them jump-start their day with a healthy breakfast of foods like fruit, eggs, and whole-grain cereal. For busy mornings, grab fridge-free GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ pouches for a wholesome option kids can eat on the go with a banana, toaster waffle or whole-wheat toast.
Encourage Exercise: Kids should do at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Make a habit of going on a family walk after dinner (a great chance to relax and reconnect) or challenge kids to bring their books up the stairs or to another room one at a time. Take 10-minute "dance party" breaks during homework or see who can jump rope the longest.
Snack Well: Kids love to snack when hunger strikes. Keep nutritious snacks on hand that can go wherever school and extracurricular activities take kids.
Manage Screen Time: Be mindful how much screen time kids have and make sure the media they use/watch is high quality. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids ages 2-5 limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs. For children 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media and monitor the types of media used.
Adjust the Attitude: Mental wellness is part of overall wellness. Encourage kids to look at issues from different angles, appreciate diversity and be resilient. Have conversations with children and truly listen to their concerns to build trust and solve problems.
Finally, it's the adult role models in a child's life that really set them up for success.
"If you model healthy habits, your child is likely to follow your lead", says Segrave-Daly. "Try to routinely eat well, sleep well, exercise and have conversations about the good and bad parts of your day. Your kids are paying attention even when it seems like they aren't!"