There is no denying that the digital age has changed how we parent. It doesn’t matter if you fully subscribe to a screen-inclusive lifestyle for your toddler or if you prefer to limit their usage; there is no one right way or wrong way to integrate technology into your children’s lives. But one issue that crops up with the prevalence of screens in childhood and a modern way of life is that the population is becoming more sedentary, and people are increasingly glued to their devices, children included.
What this means is that children are developing fewer social skills, getting outside as much as previous generations and are at risk of childhood obesity (in the 2021/22 school year, 10.1% of reception-aged children were obese, and 12% were classed as overweight).
So how can you help your child stay fit and healthy and develop good habits as a parent?
Model This Behaviour
Kids tend to do what they see regularly. If you exercise frequently, they will be more inclined to be active. If you sit on your phone, however, they will too send the message this is acceptable. Think about the type of behaviour you want your children to have and then model this to help them follow suit, pick up on your healthy lifestyle, and want to be the same way. Do it so it becomes a regular part of our daily routine without a song and dance (unless, of course, that is what you are encouraging).
Being outside has so many health benefits. Even if your child takes their screen with them, the fresh air will give them a world of good rather than being sat on the sofa. Go for a short walk in your local area, head out on adventures through local forests, woodland areas, on the coast or even into busy town centres to see what type of fun you can have – remember the more fun it is, the more beneficial it will be at this age. Take a Balance Bike, trike, bicycle, skateboard or anything else that will get you moving and the blood pumping.
Include Your Toddler More
The more you involve your child in what you do on a day-to-day basis, the less time they have to sit around. Have them help with chores in an age-appropriate way, take them on errands and have them help you pick your shopping, for example, or give them more responsibility in choosing what meals you are eating and help them prepare them. This can teach them kitchen skills they can use as they get older and pick up better eating habits and use their imagination as they come up with some wonderful concoctions, even if they’re not entirely edible.
Being a toddler and early childhood isn’t a time to be overly strict with education; they have the rest of their lives to experience this; it is about showing them how to have fun. Being able to do this and teach them healthy habits they can carry for the rest of their life is an added bonus and can help you to avoid your child becoming inactive and potentially at risk of childhood obesity.