WebMD BlogsWebMD Doctors

Do These 4 Things Now and Your Kids Will Thank You Later

mother cooking with child
Neha Pathak, MD - Blogs
By Neha Pathak, MDBoard-certified internistApril 30, 2018
From the WebMD Archives

As a doctor, I see a lot of people who are living with chronic conditions that are a result, at least in part, to an unhealthy lifestyle.

So, my patients and I focus a lot of our effort on changing behaviors and making healthier choices. As we all know, changing behavior is really hard work – and made all the harder because a lot of the unhealthy behaviors that play a part in the development of chronic conditions start in childhood. By the time an adult is in my office, we’re usually working to change behaviors that come from a lifetime’s worth of habits.

Seeing my patients work so hard to change bad habits is a powerful reminder to me, as a parent, of how important it is for me to help my two children create healthy habits. What they’re learning now can go a long way to protect them from health problems when they grow up. And it’s made me look at some of my own unhealthy habits (learned in childhood) to think about the changes I need to make – for all our sakes.

Here are 4 healthy habits that I want to encourage in my kids now (and adopt myself), to help prevent health problems in the future.

Sleep: Growing up, I never had a set bedtime. I was a night owl that had to be forced awake every morning. This meant skipping breakfast and being sleep derived for a much of my life.

What I’m doing: My kids have a nightly bedtime routine and a morning wake-up routine that includes breakfast. This routine also helps me wind down at night and wake up ready to start my day with a healthy breakfast of my own.

Sugar: Candy, soda, chocolate, juice….. you name it, I probably lived off of it as a kid.

What I’m doing: At 4 and 6, my kids are already having a hard time with this one! Once they get their hands on something sweet, they spend the next week greeting me with the question, “Are we having candy today?” So, we try to keep candy, soda, juice out of the house. I’ve found that the kids can usually be distracted with a juicy apple and grapes, which are always on hand. And we’ve taken to freezing blueberries, which satisfies their sweet tooth with a healthy fruit option.

Physical Activity: This is the hardest one for me. I’ve never really had planned exercise as part of my day.

What I’m doing: The kids are the ones leading the change here. I’m just following their lead as they hop, skip, and jump from soccer practice to dance class to make sure I get my 30 minutes a day.

Positivity: Having a positive mindset can help build resilience and protect against conditions like depression and anxiety. And I’ve noticed that as I’ve worked to change my other health habits, negative thought patterns have made things much harder.

What I’m doing: Teaching my kids the importance of trying to find the positive way of thinking about a situation is helping me to retrain my mindset as well. We end our days talking about one thing that made us happy that day and one thing that we are excited about for the next.

WebMD Blog
© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Blog Topics:
About the Author
Neha Pathak, MD

Neha Pathak, MD, is a board-certified internal medicine doctor and part of WebMD's team of medical editors responsible for ensuring the accuracy of health information on the site. Before joining WebMD, Pathak worked as a primary care physician at the Department of Veterans Affairs and was an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta.

More from the WebMD Doctors Blog

View all posts on WebMD Doctors

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More