Train children to make better health decisions

December 5, 2013

Put children in the right situations to make good decisions regarding their health.

Practicing martial arts has given many children the opportunity to learn how to make better decisions as they grow up. This is especially important when it comes to their health. While it’s easy for kids to eat a lot of sweets and fast food, dedicating themselves to martial arts training could allow them to improve upon the choices they make for their personal health as they age.

Parents should set up kids to make the right choices
With obesity among children being a major problem throughout the United States, parents need to play an active role in ensuring that their kids are being smart about their health. Stephanie Walsh, MD, medical director of child wellness at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, said it may be a good idea to talk to children about how they intend to make good decisions about their diets and physical activity. Whether they choose to be active in martial arts training or eating healthier, she suggests that they will be more willing to be health-conscious if it is their choice.

“Ask your kids what are things they want to do to be healthy,” Walsh said. “And, let them pick out vegetables and fruits at the grocery store. Have them choose which exercise classes to sign up for or which sports to play. If they think of it, they are more likely to do it because nobody likes to be told what to do.”

Teach kids how to be better decision-makers
Children aren’t often faced with life-changing decisions until they are older, but it’s still important for parents to help their kids develop the ability to make tough choices at a young age. Susan Ruby, an Edmonds mental health counselor, told ParentMap that parents can teach their kids to make better decisions by limiting the amount of options they have.

For example, she said children often get overwhelmed with all of the options when asked to pick out a one toy when they are in a place like Target. But it can be easier for them if the amount of choices is more manageable. Parents who apply this type of thinking to health and fitness decisions for their kids could be on the right track.

“Too many options exceed what a 5- or 6-year-old can handle,” Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore psychology professor, told the source. He added that it’s important children know they are making a decision for the right reasons.