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3 Must-Have Ingredients for Fit Families

​​Is your family feeling a little burned out on its journey to a healthier, more active lifestyle? Maintaining momentum and enthusiasm gets harder when motivation dips and the kids start to self-sabotage their commitment to eating healthy, staying active and sticking to new habits.

The truth is that lifestyle changes are hard, and no magic pills or special short cuts exist to make it quick and easy. The good news is, Boys Town Pediatric Weight Management has some helpful tips to keep you going!

Your friends at SPARK have a recipe that can inspire more healthy behaviors and fewer unhealthy choices. All you need to do is put the ingredients together:

  • Start with clear expectations
  • Apply consequences
  • Mix in generous amounts of praise

Set Expectations

Your kids need to know what you want to see from them; so define, explain and clarify your expectations. Whatever parameters or boundaries you set, make sure they advance your family's health goals.

Keep the focus on dos more than don'ts and empower your kids with choices! Emphasizing what your kids can do sets a positive, encouraging tone. For example:

  • Do 30 minutes of physical activity every day (walk the dog, play backyard games, ride your bike, pick up sticks)
  • Have a set snack time with a healthy variety of options (sugar-free popsicles, yogurt, nuts, fruit smoothies)

It can help even further to put your expectations in writing to avoid misunderstandings and any confusion.

Serve Up Consequences

Consequences help kids see the connection between what they do and what happens as a result of their choices or actions. Positive consequences increase the likelihood a behavior will be repeated. Negative consequences decrease the chances a behavior will happen again.

Whether positive or negative, consequences are most effective if they are:

  • Important - have meaning to your child
  • Immediate - are given swiftly to connect the consequence to the behavior
  • Appropriate - match the situation; not under-rewarding or over-punishing 
  • Consistent - are given every time the action of the consequence happens to enforce "if you do this, then this happens"
  • Vary - change so they stay meaningful and motivational   
  • Manageable - are workable so they are not impossible or punishing for the person enforcing them

A menu of positive consequences might include:

  • Sleepovers at a friend's house
  • Trips to the local water park
  • Special outings (zoo, museum, favorite restaurant, etc.)
  • Positive attention and praise

A menu of negative consequences might include:

  • Extra chores
  • Loss of screen time (including phone) or time with friends
  • Early curfew

Heap on the Praise

Positive attention nourishes the spirit and is one of the most important gifts you can give. Praise motivates kids to continue the positive behaviors they're being praised for, while lifting their self-esteem and confidence.

To unleash the power of praise, remember to:

  • Follow the 4-to-1 Rule: Praise statements should outnumber negative attention or criticisms 4 to 1.
  • Be Watchful: Check in with your kids (frequently with younger ones and periodically with older ones) so you can catch them being good. This special tool will help: Catch Kids Being Good: Praise and the Praise Box | Boys Town
  • Be Specific: Describe the effort or behaviors you saw and want to encourage.
  • Show Sincerity: Be authentic and heartfelt in word and action. Hugs, fist bumps and more time spent together are nonverbal ways of showing approval.

Your family's journey to better physical and mental health involves much more than the exercises you try or the foods you buy. Warm, loving and forgiving family relationships offer the best nourishment and are a must-have component for lifelong success and true family happiness! 

Family and Parenting;Health and Safety;Nutrition