One of the healthiest habits a parent can instill in their child is to teach him or her to reach for water instead of sugary drinks. This, however, isn’t always the easiest of feats, especially since most children come with a built-in sweet tooth.
The good news is that there are ways to assist your child in developing a life-long habit of regular water consumption. Training for this might seem hard and tedious, but with patience, it can be done! Your child will thank you for it later in life (if not now). Here are 10 ways to help your child to drink more water.
10 Add some fruity flavor
Flavored water can be just what your child needs on a hot day. Fill a jug with water and cut pieces of fruit into the water. This will sweeten the water with natural sweetness and give it a slight flavor.
You can cut up citrus like lemons and limes or other fruit like strawberries and oranges and put them in the glass of water. You can also try a combo of lemon and lime together, etc. It will add that extra sparkle to the fresh water!
9 Add some mint
Mint leaves freshen up the flavor of water, lifting it and removing that "tap water"" taste which often makes a glass of water less desirable. Grow some mint in your own garden or buy mint leaves from your nearest supermarket.
Children will also find the jug of water more attractive if there are pieces of fruit or mint in the water, giving it some life and color.
8 Buy a fancy water bottle
A good quality water bottle will go a long way in ensuring that your child is mindful of drinking water throughout the day. Such a bottle can accompany them to school, and to their extra-curricular activities. Let them pick out the bottle they fancy.
Many options are available in stores, including ones with favorite characters, and colorful designs. Having a bottle will also allow the child to measure their water intake, as they can be mindful each time they refill the bottle and tally their water consumption at the end of the day.
7 A star chart
Positive reinforcement works wonders in changing ingrained behavior patterns. One such way to reinforce good water-drinking behavior is to put up a colorful star chart. For the purpose of this specific behavior, a chart with small colored stars, and bigger gold stars is recommended.
This way, each time your child drinks a glass of water, they can get a little colored star. Eight colored stars at the end of the day can earn them a big gold star and ten gold stars, a small prize.
6 Explain the reasons why
Most people will be more willing to try something new if they fully understand the benefits of this new behavior. Instead of nagging your child to stop drinking sugary drinks, why not sit them down and explain to them the health benefits of drinking more water?
They will feel better, look better, be healthier, and have more energy. Explain to them how water forms a large percentage of their body’s overall composition. Also, you can explain to them how sugar can affect them and why it is important to cut back on this.
5 Be a good role model
A mom can’t merely expect her child to listen. She needs to walk the walk and talk the talk. When children decide how to act, often they look to mom or dad as a reference.
Are you carrying a water bottle around? Do you make sure you drink your eight to ten glasses of water each day? Are you modeling good health and are you a picture of vibrancy and good decisions? First, adopt these behaviors yourself.
4 Develop a routine
Why not get into the habit of routine-oriented behaviors which will make your child mindful of water consumption? For example, place a glass of water alongside your child’s plate at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Also, hand them their water bottle and ask them to put it into their school bag in the mornings. When they head out the door for ballet or soccer practice, pass them their water bottle. Remind them that when it is empty, they can refill it at practice or school.
3 Keep temptation out of reach
It’s no good preaching "no sugary drinks" and then stocking your fridge up with soft drinks and sugar-rich beverages.
Make your fridge a "soft drink free zone" so that when your child opens it, there is nothing there to lure them away from their new habit. Try keep other refreshments like sugar-free ice tea in stock should a child’s sweet tooth take over and they need a treat.
2 Celebrate the journey
No ingrained behavior pattern changes overnight. There might be a bumpy road ahead in changing a pattern your child has had for years, but it's possible. Learn to celebrate small victories and you and your child will more likely to continue with the new behavior in the long haul.
Remember to be kind to your child. Then, remember to be kind to yourself! Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
1 Try a challenge
How about appealing to your kid’s competitive side? This means that the child who aces swapping sugary drinks for water and does so with excellency and consistency, showing additional effort in terms of initiative, can expect a prize of sorts. This reward system takes the star chart a step further. You can reward the initiative as far as developing healthy habits is concerned.
For example, your child can not only try to drink more water but also try to eat more fruit instead of sweets. Parents can acknowledge these new behaviors with a reward of movie tickets for them and a friend, or a small toy that they've been eyeing.