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Habits are hard to break. That's why the sooner in life we build good, healthy habits, the easier it is to keep them and stay as healthy as possible. And when good habits are in place, it's easier to resist bad ones.

Your child's habits start with you

The most important thing to remember is that you are your child's role model. Your habits affect your children's habits.

If your habits are unhealthy—smoking, drinking too much alcohol, or always expecting the worst, for example—your child is more likely to get those habits.

If your habits are healthy—eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, looking forward to tomorrow, for example—your children are more likely to build those habits in their own lives.

What follows is help and advice for building good, lifelong habits in four areas:

  1. Healthy eating.
  2. Regular physical activity.
  3. Staying safe and healthy.
  4. Healthy thinking.

Healthy eating

Healthy eating links

Get the facts:

  • Healthy Eating for Children

Take action:

  • Healthy Eating: Helping Your Child Learn Healthy Eating Habits
  • Healthy Eating: Making Healthy Choices When You Shop
  • Quick Tips: Making Fast, Healthy Meals
  • Quick Tips: Healthy Eating on a Budget
  • Quick Tips: Adding Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet
  • Quick Tips: Making Healthy Snacks

More healthy habit information:

  • Healthy Habits and Nutrition in Children
  • Healthy Eating: Cutting Unhealthy Fats
  • Healthy Eating: Making Healthy Choices When You Eat Out
  • Healthy Eating in Children: Things That Influence Food Choices
  • Feeding Your Child Using Division of Responsibility
  • Healthy Eating: Starting a Plan for Change

Regular physical activity

Physical activity links

Get the facts:

  • Physical Activity for Children and Teens
  • Helping Children With Disabilities Stay Active

Take action:

  • Fitness: Teaching Your Child to Stay Active
  • Quick Tips: Getting Active As a Family
  • Quick Tips: Getting in Shape Without Spending Money
  • Quick Tips: Fitting Physical Activity Into Your Day
  • Quick Tips: Getting Active at Home

More healthy habit information:

  • Fitness: Adding More Activity to Your Life
  • Fitness: Staying Active When You Have Young Children
  • Fitness: Walking for Wellness
  • Fitness: Choosing Activities That Are Right for You
  • Quick Tips: Staying Active in Hot Weather
  • Quick Tips: Staying Active in Cold Weather
  • Exercise and Physical Activity Ideas

Staying safe and healthy

Health and safety links

Get the facts:

  • Health and Safety, Birth to 2 Years
  • Health and Safety, Ages 2 to 5 Years

Take action:

  • Quick Tips: Helping Your Child Stay Safe and Healthy
  • Protect Your Child From Infections
  • Take Your Child to Routine Doctor Visits
  • Sleep: Helping Your Children—and Yourself—Sleep Well
  • Quick Tips: Using Backpacks Safely
  • Talking With Your Child About Sex

More healthy habit information:

Health

  • Protecting Your Child's Skin From Sun
  • Child Safety: Air Pollution
  • Basic Dental Care
  • Hand-Washing
  • Teenage Sleep Patterns
  • Practicing Safe Sex to Prevent Disease

Safety

  • Child Safety: Pets
  • Child Safety: Preventing Drowning
  • Child Safety: Streets and Cars
  • Child Safety: Preventing Child Abduction
  • Preventing Children's Injuries From Sports and Other Activities
  • Teen Relationship Abuse

Healthy thinking

Healthy thinking links

Get the facts:

  • Helping Your Child Build Inner Strength

Take action:

  • Growth and Development: Helping Your Child Build Self-Esteem
  • Stress Management: Helping Your Child With Stress
  • Help Your School-Age Child Develop Social Skills
  • Building a Healthy Body Image
  • Helping Your Child Avoid Tobacco, Drugs, and Alcohol

More healthy habit information:

Think positive:

  • Strengthening Your School-Age Child's Self-Esteem
  • Recognizing and Developing Your Children's Special Talents
  • Stop Negative Thoughts: Choosing a Healthier Way of Thinking
  • Helping Your School-Age Child Learn About the Body
  • Tips for Parents of Teens

Manage stress:

  • Stress in Children and Teens
  • Stress Management: Managing Your Time

Prevent bullying:

  • Bullying: Signs a Child Is Bullied
  • Bullying: Building a Child's Self-Esteem
  • Bullying: How to Help Your Child Who Bullies

Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.


Actionsets are designed to help people take an active role in managing a health condition.
  Fitness: Adding More Activity to Your Life
  Fitness: Choosing Activities That Are Right for You
  Fitness: Staying Active When You Have Young Children
  Fitness: Teaching Your Child to Stay Active
  Fitness: Walking for Wellness
  Growth and Development: Helping Your Child Build Self-Esteem
  Healthy Eating: Cutting Unhealthy Fats From Your Diet
  Healthy Eating: Helping Your Child Learn Healthy Eating Habits
  Healthy Eating: Making Healthy Choices When You Eat Out
  Healthy Eating: Making Healthy Choices When You Shop
  Healthy Eating: Starting a Plan for Change
  Sleep: Helping Your Children—and Yourself—Sleep Well
  Stress Management: Helping Your Child With Stress
  Stress Management: Managing Your Time

Organizations

HealthyChildren.org
141 Northwest Point Boulevard
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Phone: (847) 434-4000
Web Address: www.healthychildren.org
 

This American Academy of Pediatrics website has information for parents about childhood issues, from before the child is born to young adulthood. You'll find information on child growth and development, immunizations, safety, health issues, behavior, and much more.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Body and Mind
1600 Clifton Road, MS C-04
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: 1-800-311-3435
(404) 639-3534
Email: cdcinfo@cdc.gov
Web Address: www.bam.gov
 

This CDC website is for children 9 to 13 years old. It gives kids the information they need to make healthy lifestyle choices. There are interactive tools about fitness, safety, disease, stress, and more.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Healthy Living
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA  30333
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
TDD: 1-888-232-6348
Web Address: www.cdc.gov/HealthyLiving
 

This website has information about things you can do to help yourself and your family members be healthy. Topics address child development, physical activity, healthy eating, reproductive health, mental health, and more.


KidsHealth for Parents, Children, and Teens
Nemours Home Office
10140 Centurion Parkway
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Phone: (904) 697-4100
Web Address: www.kidshealth.org
 

This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.


  • Brushing and Flossing a Child's Teeth
  • Bullying
  • Child Car Seats
  • Good-Health Attitude
  • Growth and Development, Ages 1 to 12 Months
  • Growth and Development, Ages 11 to 14 Years
  • Growth and Development, Ages 12 to 24 Months
  • Growth and Development, Ages 15 to 18 Years
  • Growth and Development, Ages 2 to 5 Years
  • Growth and Development, Ages 6 to 10 Years
  • Healthy Attitudes Toward Food and Exercise
  • Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
  • Helping Kids Handle Peer Pressure
  • Mind-Body Wellness
  • Nurturing Your Child to Improve Learning and Attention
  • Safer Sex
  • Social Connections

Other Works Consulted

  • Ertem IO (2011). Child development. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph’s Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 34–42. New York: McGraw-Hill.

  • Kelly S, et al. (2011). Correlates among healthy lifestyle cognitive beliefs, healthy lifestyle choices, social support, and healthy behaviors in adolescents: Implications for behavioral change strategies and future research. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 25(4): 216–223.


By: Healthwise Staff Last Revised: December 9, 2011
Medical Review: Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Catherine D. Serio, PhD - Behavioral Health

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