12 Unhealthy Kids Health Habits and How to Fix Them

Kids Healthy Food

Bad Habit: Fake Healthy Snacks and Drinks That Are Loaded with Sugar

A lot of snacks may seem healthy, such as granola bars and energy drinks but the fact is that they contain few nutrients and too much added sugar, which exposes your children to a lot of calories that they don’t need.

How to avoid: Offer your children water, or detox water with slices of fruits such as orange, strawberry or lemon. Or offer them low-fat milk instead of soda and artificial juice. At snack time give them whole foods, such as apples topped with peanut butter, crackers and low-fat cheese or low-fat yogurt with real fruit.

Bad Habit: Nose-Picking

Nose-picking is not only a gross habit, it’s also a real problem. It involves a small risk of introducing germs to the nose, but the larger risk is spreading germs to other kids.

How to avoid: Teach your kid to use tissues and then wash his hands. Remind him if he must pick, he needs to do it in private. Allergies, air conditioning or heat may also make your child’s nose dry, so use a humidifier or saline nasal spray to relieve symptoms, which in turn will reduce your child’s tendency to pick.

Bad Habit: Nail-Biting

Nail biting introduces germs to your kids skin and may cause damage to surrounding skin and cuticles. Your kid may be biting his nails because he or she is under stress or bored so take care of those warning sign.

How to avoid: Teach your child what causes biting or picking and recommend that he or she do something else to relieve stress, like working on an art project, taking a walk, or doing a sport. Use physical reminders to your children to remind them not to chew their nails, like putting stickers or bands on their fingers.

Bad Habit: Staying Up Late

Getting enough sleep is associated with behavior. One common reason for a restless night is violent movies. A recent study showed that the kids that didn’t watch violent movies or violent shows had fewer nightmares or troubles falling asleep.

How to avoid: Don’t let you kids watch violent movies and make sure they get enough sleep by letting them go to bed on time. Children usually need 10 to 13 hours of sleep per night, and teens need 8.5-9.25 hours. Establish this routine and keep your child’s room dark, cool and quiet for a better sleep environment.

Bad Habit: Skipping Breakfast

Kids usually skip breakfast more than any other meal of the day and the results are too dangerous. Skipping breakfast can be a reason for obesity and making poor food choices later in the day. Kids who regularly have their breakfast are better in their academic life, they are better able to process information, pay attention and do well on tests.

How to avoid: Getting your kids up a few minutes earlier can leave them a chance to have their breakfast. It’s usually better to serve meals that contain protein, fiber and healthy fats. And if they are late or in hurry, prepare easy-to-grab foods at school such as hard-boiled eggs or an English muffin with peanut butter.

Bad Habit: Dieting

Tweens who diet in an extreme ways, like using diet pills or eating extremely small portions, continue those unhealthy behaviors into adulthood. Kids often do just like what they see so if you’re always dieting, your kids will just mimic without being aware that this wrong.

How to avoid: Avoid talking about your own weight and body in a negative way. Make a family commitment to healthy eating by purging the pantry of junk food and planning meals together. Don’t talk about food in terms of good and bad — focus on which foods build muscles and give you energy. Go to the grocery store and farmer’s markets together and let kids choose one new vegetable per week so they’ll feel like a part of the meal planning process, says King.

Bad Habit: Not Washing Their Hands

The best way to make you children hygienic is to make sure they wash they hands regularly.

How to avoid: You don’t need to make your children germ-phobic to make sure they wash their hands. Instead, teach them to wash their hands after going to bathroom , before meals and after blowing their noses. Train them to scrub their hands with soap and water through two renditions of the “Happy Birthday” song. You can take it a step further and drop an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in their backpacks, lunchboxes and gym bags for times when there’s no sink in sight.

Bad Habit: Too Much Screen Time

Multiple studies show that too much TV and computer time is bad for kids. Watching fast-paced cartoons interfered with toddlers’ attention spans and organizational skills, studies suggest. Plus, a Pediatrics study showed that video games are associated with attention problems in kids and young adults. And too much TV at a young age can result in bigger waistlines and a lower ability to play sports by the end of fourth grade, according to a study at University of Montreal.

What to do: For children younger than two, avoid TV altogether. For older kids, keep TVs out of kids’ bedrooms and declare a “no media” rule during meal time. Limit the overall amount of time spent in front the TV, computer or video games to two hours per day, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Bad Habit: Not Playing Outside

Half of preschool kids are not being taken outside to play every day by either parent, a recent study found. Yet playing outdoors is great for kids’ motor development, vision, vitamin D level and mental health. Plus, it’s fun!

How to avoid: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least 60 minutes of daily exercise. Get outside with your kid at least once a day — even if it’s not for a full hour, some activity is better than none. Go on a bike ride, take a walk as a family after dinner, shoot some hoops, play Frisbee or a game of tag. You can even wash the car or walk the dog together for exercise. “The goal is to make activity a part of your lifestyle,” says King.

Bad Habit: Forgetting Sunscreen

Sun damage adds up over time — just one blistering sunburn in childhood can more than double a person’s chances of melanoma later in life. Another scary fact: Teens who go to tanning salons increase their risk of melanoma by 11 percent after just four visits, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

How to avoid: Encourage kids to play and hang out in the shade when possible and wear sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher every day — those UV rays get through even on cloudy days. Keep newborn babies out of the sun and use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 on babies older than 6 months. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating. For additional protection, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends covering kids in sun-protective clothing; look for clothing that lists an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). Companies such as L.L. Bean and Land’s End offer UPF clothing for all ages. Don’t let teens tan at indoor salons or even “lay out” for hours at a time. (Tell them there’s no such thing as a base tan). Most of all, model good behavior – always wear sunscreen.

Bad Habit: Not Protecting Their Eyes

Your kid’s skin isn’t the only thing that needs protection from the sun. “Damage from UV rays is cumulative and can result in scarring and surface growths on the conjunctiva (clear, benign growths on the whites of the eyes) years from now,” says Lee Duffner, M.D., clinical correspondent with the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Another problem to watch out for? Sports injuries your kids can get when not wearing protective eye gear.

How to avoid: Buy some sunglasses! Kids six months and older should wear sunglasses that block both 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays (younger babies should be kept out of the sun). Babies will probably pull the glasses and sunhats off, but they can get used to them if you keep putting them on. Let older kids pick their own styles so they’ll wear them. If your child plays sports such as baseball (which accounts for the most sports-related eye injuries), racquet sports, soccer, hockey or lacrosse, make sure she wears eye protectors with shatterproof polycarbonate lenses made for athletes, says Dr. Duffner.

Bad Habit: Not Brushing or Flossing

Even baby teeth get cavities and infections. “When kids develop cavities at an early age, they’re also at highest risk for developing cavities as an adult,” says Jonathan Shenkin, D.D.S., a pediatric dentist and spokesperson for the American Dental Association.

how to avoid: When your child gets her first teeth around 6 months, brush twice a day with toothpaste that is saccharine- free and doesn’t contain fluoride, which can cause spotting in still-forming tooth enamel. At 24 months, brush twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When your kid’s teeth start touching, floss once a day with pre-threaded flossers, says Dr. Shenkin. Don’t forget that flossing is as important as brushing, and sometimes even more important. Make sure you help kids brush until they’re old enough to do it on their own — usually around age six.

Bad Habit: Carrying Heavy Backpacks

About half of school-age kids are carrying a backpack that’s too heavy. A study in The Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics reported that 64 percent of kids 11-15 years old said they had back pain from carrying overloaded packs. Plus, kids tend to sling backpacks across one shoulder — a no-no that often causes neck and shoulder pain.

How to avoid: Help your child weed out what he really needs for the day. Load the bag so that the heaviest items are closest to his back and won’t shift .Look for backpacks with wide, padded shoulder straps and tighten them to keep the pack close the body and two inches above your child’s waist. Encourage your kids to use both straps and don’t let them carry backpack weighing more than 10 to 20 percent of their weight, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your kid has serious pain, consider getting him a backpack on wheels.

Bad Habit: Boycotting Certain Foods (or Eating a Limited Diet)

Your kid has decided she’s only going to eat French fries or she’s boycotting anything red, and you’re worried she’s not getting the nutrition she needs. “Some food bouts last longer than others, but it’s not unusual for toddlers to exclude certain foods,” says Lemond. “It’s a phase that may occur off on and on for one to two years.”

How to avoid: Ride it out. The more upset you get, the more likely your toddler will persist. Offer foods she says she doesn’t like up to 10 times — kids need multiple exposures before they decide they like something. If your child is insistent about not eating the foods you offer, be patient, says Lemond. If she skips a meal over pickiness, she’ll likely eat when she’s hungry at the next meal.

Bad Habit: Not Getting Enough Calcium

Kids build about 90 percent of their adult bone mass by age 17, which is important for preventing osteoporosis and fractures later in life. Yet fewer than 1 in 10 girls and 1 in 4 boys ages 9 to 13 get adequate daily calcium, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

How to avoid: Kids ages 4 to 8 need 1,000 mg of calcium per day; older kids need 1,300 mg. Serve calcium-rich foods for meals and snacks, and limit soda, especially as a replacement for milk. Encourage kids to eat low-fat dairy such as yogurt and cheese; serve leafy green veggies like kale and spinach with dinner; and buy calcium-fortified cereals. Kids between 1-13 years old should be taking 600 IUs of vitamin D to help the absorb that bone-building calcium. Weight-bearing activities such as walking, running, dancing and basketball also help build bones, according to the NIH. So the more active kids are the better for their bones!

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