From Parenting 24/7: University of Illinois Extension


Dads Can Make a Difference

Posted , updated Jun 16, 2005.

Dads Can Make a Difference

Dads can help their children develop “healthy habits” by setting a good example and helping them learn how to make good choices. Some simple but important ways are to:

  • Make healthy eating choices for yourself and your family,
  • Monitor how much TV you and the kids are watching,
  • Be physically active with your kids.

Have it Your Way

Sometimes ordering a pizza or going to a fast food restaurants seems to make life a bit easier. The problem is that children (and adults) who eat fast food often are more likely to become obese and develop health problems. Most fast foods are high in “bad stuff” (fats, calories, sodium) and low in “good stuff” (fiber, fruits, vegetables, calcium). Here is what you can do:

  • Eat with your children at home so they can see you making healthy eating choices,
  • Cut down on “junk food” snacks between meals; eat fruits and vegetables, and
  • If you do go to a fast food restaurant occasionally, try to make healthier choices for yourself and your children.

Don’t Be a Couch Potato

Kids who watch a lot of TV tend to be less healthy than those who watch less TV. It’s not just because kids are sitting around when they could be moving! Kids tend to snack more while watching TV, and are also exposed to commercials for foods that are often high in calories. You can promote healthy habits by:

  • Limiting the amount of TV children watch by themselves,
  • Helping children become smart consumers by explaining how commercials are designed to make you want things that you don’t need and may not be very healthy.
  • Offer healthier snack choices like pretzels, popcorn, fresh fruits, and trail mixes.

Sports versus Activities

Experts say that children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most days. Many dads want their kids to participate in sports so they can develop new motor skills, practice discipline and self-control, experience the importance of “teamwork”, and learn what it means to be a “good sport”. These are all good things to learn, but participating in competitive sports during the preschool years may not be best way to keep young children healthy.

Choose activities that keep them active, moving, and having fun, rather than those that focus on “doing it right” or winning. Kids will be just has happy and healthy if they do active things with you! You can take walks, crank up music and dance, make up an obstacle courses, or just run and jump.

Feedback On This Article

Register to rate articles and leave comments.

© Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
University of Illinois Extension