Mothers and sons have a very special bond. These little boys grow up seeking your guidance, support and encouragement in everything they do. As a mom, it’s up to you to give them everything they need to become happy and healthy men. Aside from teaching them how to walk, talk, get dressed and play nicely with others, you want to make sure that they grow up understanding the importance of healthy habits. Here are 19 important health tips that your son would benefit greatly from as he gets older:
1. Exercise should be a part of life: When boys are young, they spend a lot of time running around, playing sports and chasing their friends. Fast forward to when he’s grown up and a lot of that activity begins to subside once higher education, work and girls begin to enter the picture. Instill in your son that even a short amount of exercise each day (or on most days) is vital to staying healthy.
2. Annual check-ups are important: As boys grow up, visits to the doctor may lessen. You probably have a husband or know many men who refuse to go to the doctor even when something is wrong. Explain to your son the importance of yearly check-ups and why going to the doctor is necessary, especially when he doesn’t feel well.
3. Food is fuel: Boys are often known for being able to eat you out of your home. Their appetites run rampant, especially once puberty hits and they are growing and getting older. Explain to them how important it is to eat the right kinds of food like fruits and vegetables, protein and complex carbohydrates in order to keep weight gain under control and to be able to participate in all the activities they want.
4. Sex is serious business: This might be a tough one for you moms, but it’s a discussion that you must have with your son before he is grown. No doubt he will learn a lot of things you don’t want him to know from his friends. Set the record straight as early as you can about what sex is and is not, the consequence of engaging in sexual activity and the responsibility that comes with it. Don’t let him try to figure this all out on his own or from his friends. Give as much guidance as possible and answer any questions he may have.
5. Wash your hands: All kids are notorious for forgetting to wash their hands. But if you instill this habit as early as possible, it will become commonplace and not something you have to remind him of doing all the time.
6. Cover sneezes and coughs: Kids love to let loose with their coughs and sneezes, usually forgetting to put their arm over their mouths or, at the least, turning away from others beforehand. Explain to your son that he doesn’t want another kids sneezing and coughing all over him so it’s important to not do that to someone else.
7. Brush your teeth: Some boys find brushing their teeth fun while others protest having to do it at least twice a day. Again, making this part of their daily routine as early as you can will make it something they just automatically do and will keep doing even when they are all grown.
8. Showering or bathing is necessary every day: Sure, when your son was little he may not have needed a bath every day, but as he gets older and runs around, and gets sweatier and dirtier, bathing daily is definitely necessary. Whether he prefers the morning or the evening, if he at least gets one in each day, this habit will stick with him for life.
9. Sleep is just as important as exercise: Staying up late can be fun, but the next day crash and crankiness is not - for him or for you. Explain to your son why getting enough sleep each night helps him to grow and stay strong. You can also explain how getting the right amount of sleep will help him do well in school.
10. Too much sugar is harmful: Just as it is important to teach your son to eat healthier, you should also help him understand why eating too much sugary foods and drinks is not good for his overall health. This doesn’t mean cutting out sugar entirely, but rather enjoying the sweet stuff in moderation.
11. Snacks are healthy, desserts are sweet: One of the biggest problems with kids is fully understanding the difference between a snack and a dessert. Your son should know that when he is hungry, he has many options to eat something healthy and nutritious. The cookies, chips and brownies are perfect for his after dinner dessert, but when snack time comes around, healthy is the way to go.
12. Self-confidence is a plus: Not every boy is born with a feeling of 100 percent self-confidence and security. It’s essential that you teach your son how to have confidence in himself and that he can do just about anything. This includes telling him that he should never let anyone tell him that he’s not good enough to do something.
13. Social skills are even more important than athletic skills: Your son should learn how to navigate the complicated world of socializing with others. Not every kid will be nice, respectful or friendly. Learning how to deal with diverse personalities and attitudes at a young age will put him in a much better position later on in life when he encounters similar types of people.
14. Be respectful of others: While you may not think of this as a “healthy” tip, it is one that is needed to create healthy relationships with others which contribute to overall health - physically, mentally and emotionally. This means not only having respect for himself, but also for others regardless of who they are. The best example for this is how you treat and respect others. Lead by example.
15. Proper money management: Yes, financial health is also important and the sooner your son understands how to properly manage his money, the better off he will be down the road. When he gets monetary gifts from friends and family, explain to him the importance of saving money and when it should be spent. Teaching him how to have a healthy relationship with money and not to waste it is a life lesson that is more valuable than the money itself. Read this article to learn five great tips when teaching teens about money management.
16. A sense of humor is a great asset: Your son should know that laughing at himself is not a bad thing. In fact, many studies have discovered that women adore men with a healthy sense of humor. Not only is it an ice-breaker during awkward moments, but it also makes people feel at ease and want to get to know you better. Your son will have no problem meeting people (and the ladies) with a good sense of humor.
17. Smoking, drugs and alcohol should be avoided: This may sound like an obvious lesson to teach your son, but some moms are afraid of approaching the subject or do it once it is too late. The easiest way to help your son understand how these three habits are not good for him is to not do them yourself and not surround your son with others who do them. If your son sees someone smoking, explain what happens to them if they do this. Yes, it might be scary to hear, but it will definitely be something he remembers. If you drink, try not to do it in front of your son. The less exposure he has to it, the less normal it will seem to him.
18. Safety first: Simple things like learning how to cross the street, not playing with matches or staying away from dangerous household chemicals are valuable lessons your son should learn sooner rather than later. Again, they may sound like obvious concepts to teach, but they need to be taught early on and with consistency even as he gets older.
19. Showing emotion is not a weakness: Some boys are taught that if they cry or show any type of empathy, that they are weak and not men. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Showing emotion is a sign of someone who is in touch with who they are and who can relate to someone else’s hardships or grief. It’s never a sign of being less of a man, but rather more of a decent human being.
Don’t think for one second it is too soon to teach your son some of these valuable life lessons. When it comes to health, the more you teach, the more informed he will be and the better prepared he will be to lead a healthy life - physically, socially, mentally and financially. And if you set the example for him, he is sure to pick up on your healthy habits sooner than you think.