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Knowing that you want your children to make healthy choices is not the same thing as actively encouraging them to do so. Yet you have tremendous influence over your children’s health, not only right now, but later in life.

There are a few strategies that help your kids make the best decisions for their bodies, minds, and hearts. Below are five ways that will ensure a well-rounded approach to life for your kids while not micromanaging them.

1. Encourage Healthy Food and Drink Choices

If you don’t teach your kids how to make smart choices about what they eat and drink, someone else will — and it may not be the advice you want your kids to hear. Focus on providing them with three meals a day (and snacks if they’re younger) with a range of vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein options. We Are Teachers notes you should avoid excess sugar, fried and processed foods, and caffeine.

2. Focus on Physical Health over Looks

Exercise can make your kids’ bodies and minds healthier, and it can help them cultivate healthy self-esteem about their bodies. If your kids don’t love playing team sports at school, focus on martial arts or solo sports like swimming or tennis. Jujitsu is a great sport for children to learn that teaches self-defense and allows for competitive opportunities. If you notice your teen or preteen worrying about weight or the way he or she looks, don’t be afraid to have a conversation and discuss these topics. Encourage your kids to speak to you about food, body image, and exercise.

3. Guard Against Experimenting with Addictive Substances

The Addiction Center explains drugs and alcohol abuse is a very real problem for some teens and even preteens. Push through any awkwardness and talk openly with your kids about why these substances can harm a person’s life. Frame it realistically: They may drink alcohol when they are adults, and this is usually ok, but illegal drugs and teenage drinking are to be avoided at all costs.

4. Practice Setting Limits on Screen Time

We all live in a nearly virtual world sometimes, but it’s good for your kids to get out and enjoy the fresh air. Make it a point to limit screen time, and get out of the house at least once a week with your family and have an outdoor picnic, take a hike, or simply walk around the block together. Younger kids may like to visit a local park or playground.

5. Set a Great Example

The best way to help your kids make good choices is to make them yourself: By modeling good behavior for your kids, you are setting an example that will serve as their standard for their entire lives. Even preschoolers aren’t too young to learn from role models. For example, if you’ve always wanted to go back to school to finish your BA or get a higher degree, check out online degrees in business, marketing, or accounting. There are numerous degrees available online that can fit perfectly into a busy parent’s lifestyle.

Parenting is hard, but there’s a lot you can do to give your kids the best possible start in life. Provide healthy food and drink choices, encourage them to exercise, talk about their bodies with positivity, and teach them how to avoid drugs and alcohol. Best of all, show them these things by setting an example for them to learn from.

Amanda Henderson – Contributing Writer