Help Kiddos Thrive in 2024 with These 5 Habits

Help Kiddos Thrive in 2024 with These 5 Habits

Article By: Dr. Evangelynn Honegger

Dr. Evangelynn Honegger is the Lead Clinic Physician at TRUEcare Integrative Medicine, an integrative naturopathic family medicine, acupuncture, and functional nutrition practice in Kirkland, WA.

If your holiday season was abundantly full with holiday breaks, parties, celebrations, letters to Santa, Elf on the Shelf shenanigans, family gatherings, and more, you likely had to rearrange your normal routines to accommodate all of the celebrations! As we begin a fresh new year, you may be feeling the need to find those solid routines again and get back on track as a healthy household.

A consistent and holistic approach to routines that work for your family every day is essential. Here are a few ways I love encouraging and supporting my families in the clinic as we work towards an even more healthful year with balanced intentions and fresh opportunities for good growing ahead.

1) Fuel with whole foods.

Maybe nutrition was full of a bit more indulgences during the holiday season as extra sweet treats and nostalgia bites made their appearance. The food we eat impacts our actions, mood, and behavior. Look at breakfasts, snack times, the lunch box, and everything in between to see what is fueling your kiddos.

The brain thrives on sufficient nutrition, especially the developing brains of growing children, which use more energy than any other organ in the body — often more than half of an infant’s kilocalories and at least 20% of what older children and teens need. In other words, without proper fuel, your kiddo isn’t able to perform at their very best, focus in school, have healthy mood regulation, and/or play and recover well from sports.

We talk a lot about breakfasts being a mainstay when parents inquire about optimizing nutrition goals. In our clinic, we are part of the pro-breakfast club and encourage fueling with a well-balanced breakfast... This goes for toddlers to teens and adults! You can also incorporate a kiddo-approved multivitamin to ensure all nutritional needs and vitamins are met and boosted (try the Renzo’s Picky Eater Multivitamin).

2) Build healthy digital habits.

What are your kiddos exposed to throughout the day? Remember that screen time shouldn’t always be alone time. Understand what they are doing and be a part of it. Create a family media plan. No doubt video games made the wish list this year. While it can be a way for many kids to connect with friends, try out a movement-oriented habit of getting up between games. As an example, match every 15 minutes of Minecraft with 15 jumping jacks!

3) Practice mindful pauses.

This can be a challenging habit, even for adults. It can be easy to want to start all the things in the new year. Often, less is more compared to an always on-the-go mentality with no downtime or creative play. Pausing to practice listening to what our body is telling us and what it may need is an important skill for kiddos to learn. It’s a muscle and a practice we have to work at building every day. It can look like a breathing exercise or mindful meditation of checking in with all 5 senses (See, Smell, Hear, Feel, Taste). Even a short park stroll or finding objects that match colors can be a good reset. Have fun with non-structured play and time to explore!

4) Establish or reestablish a healthy vitamin routine.

My favorite way for kids and adults to build healthy habits is to habit stack. Simply put, this means combining a new routine (i.e. a vitamin routine) with an activity that is already a key part of the day. Habit stacking helps the success of the new habit stick to an already established routine. And it makes it easy for our kiddos to remember and feel more empowered, even when we forget. Consider stacking your vitamin routine with these activities:

  • Before morning teeth brushing
  • With breakfast or lunch
  • After nap time
  • Upon arriving home from school

For pediatric vitamins that are easy to take and check all the boxes, try Renzo’s Vitamins. Yummy, nutritious, and sugar-free, Renzo’s are loved by kids, parents, dentists, and pediatricians!

5) Keep boosting immune systems!

So often I see immune supports ramping up during back-to-school season but then slowly falling to the wayside later in the year. It’s vital to support our immune systems and pep talk them through all seasons of colds, flus, and other viruses making their rounds — and especially after the holidays with an influx of sweet treats! Studies show that as little as 75mg of sugar is enough to suppress our immune systems, which can make us more susceptible to catching the latest bugs going around.

  • Choose vitamins your kiddos love taking. If it becomes a power struggle or something they don’t love, this healthful habit is sure to go out the window.
  • Avoid sugar-filled gummy vitamins — you might as well have a dessert instead since gummies have minimal therapeutic immune-boosting support.
  • Aim for weekly consistency. If you miss immune supports one day, just make sure to take them the next. Our immune systems thrive with consistent nudges of extra support that help us become more resilient and decrease the duration and severity of those pesky viruses.

Overall, when it comes to the start of the year, we love creating glorious, over ambitious goals... And to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of this approach. Here’s why... When it comes to goals, we go all or nothing, and we try and accomplish everything while forgetting that we all are simply doing our best, parenting our best, and resetting from the fun holiday season, and this can put on more stress and pressure.

Establishing habits for a family can be beautifully messy and include days (like one of my favorite 8-year-olds says) when "we are on it like a comet, Dr. Vange" and others that feel upside down, especially when building new habits. This is why I love habit-building practices when trying to implement new behaviors. So the next time you’re tempted to go big or all-in without any baby steps to get there, lean into the habit first.

Helping kids set New Year’s Intentions can be a fun and healthy tradition but shouldn’t be stressful. Focus on what habits are working in the moment and serving them well, then build upon habits that are already rooted. Setting realistic goals is key to turning goals and intentions into habits your kids will continue for the rest of their lives.

Renzo's Vitamins provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice.

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