Helping Your Kids to Make Healthy Choices

INA Blog Nannies Helping Your Kids to Make Healthy Choices 1

By Melanie Nelson

It’s important to help your child develop good decision-making skills. Learning to make healthy choices is important at work, school, home, and in social situations. The most powerful tool that a parent can use is their own behavior. Children will pay far more attention to what you do than what you say, so it’s pointless to instruct them on choosing healthy foods if your own diet consists of Sprite and fried onion rings. The International Nanny Association encourages you to give some thought to the type of decision-making you are modeling for your kids, and provides some strategies to become the healthy role model you and your kids deserve.

Explain the Steps Involved in Decision Making

Decision-making can be broken down into steps, and while there may be three steps, or five, it boils down to the same basic activities. First, identify what the goal or problem is. It may be as small as deciding what to wear to school or as big as choosing between colleges. Once the question has been clarified, it’s time to gather information. This might involve checking the weather forecast and determining which clothes are clean, or it might involve visiting college campuses, reading catalogs, and talking with people who have attended the schools you’re considering. 

The third step is considering the consequences of various choices. Along with the new information that has been gathered, values, priorities, experience, safety, risk, benefits, and possible outcomes should be explored. Step four is actually making the choice, and step five is evaluating the choice you made. While all of this might sound like too much for smaller children, it can be scaled to appropriate levels. 

How You Can Model Good Decision-Making Practices

A good way to start teaching toddlers decision-making is to give them a choice between two items. For example, would you like to wear the green shirt or the blue shirt? As your child develops, you can include them in considerations such as their comfort in an air-conditioned room, the expected weather, and the activities that will be involved. It’s important to allow them to fail in situations where the consequences won’t be long-term or disastrous. We all learn far more from the things that don’t go well than we do from the perfect outcome. 

When you’re making your own decisions, the Child Mind Institute encourages you to take time to talk through the process so your child can see how you go about it and observe you, considering more than one perspective. If you’re trying to encourage your child to include exercise as a fundamental part of each day, then talk about how you will manage to include it in your own life and what may have to be postponed or given up in order to have time to follow through.

Talk About and Model Educational Choices

Have conversations about what your child hopes to achieve in the future and how their education can help them to achieve their goals. Remember that your own life is a lesson in itself and your behavior conveys your priorities. For example, if you never finished college but hope to do that, discuss it with your children, and explain how you plan to go about it, including the choices you’ll make. 

You might decide to pursue a degree in IT, which can open up a lot of different job opportunities. Check this out to learn about online programs that may be easier to balance with the rest of your responsibilities. By going to school yourself, you are demonstrating the priority you place on education. 

If you decide to pursue higher education, you may need some support caring for your children. This can be a great opportunity to connect with members of The International Nanny Association. In home child caregivers associated with the INA can be trusted to care for and model good behaviors with your children.

Guide Your Child Through Developing Leadership Skills

Helping your child learn decision-making, priority setting, honesty, and integrity will contribute to their leadership ability. Critical and analytical thinking are keys to both good leadership and good decision-making, the two go hand in hand. Praise your kids when they lead by example, tell the truth, and make an effort to communicate.

Do Your Best to be a Great Role Model

Strong decision-making and healthy choices are composed of a number of smaller skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, self-management, priority setting, and being able to consider others. While these skills can be taught, they are best modeled, too. Whether it’s anger management, decision-making, or going back to school, it’s never too early to begin showing your kids how your actions line up with your spoken priorities.


Melanie Nelson is a lifelong resident of Oklahoma and is no stranger to the crazy weather the state is infamous for. Starting her family made her take a special interest in disaster preparedness in order to protect her loved ones and everything they’ve worked so hard for. Through DisasterPrepared, she hopes to help others stay prepared … and stay alive.

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