Drinking water and staying hydrated is essential to maintain good health, especially for children. But with changes in lifestyle, habits have also changed. And children now mostly drink sweet drinks like soda or fruit juice instead of plain water. Although this habit may not pose an immediate health threat, it would eventually affect the well-being and quality of life. Let's look at some of the ways to persuade children to drink more water.
Explain the benefits: Preaching the benefits of drinking water will surely put off children, but you can adopt a different approach. Most children show a keen interest in understanding how human body functions. So, get some books with stories and illustrations showing how drinking water benefits our bodies. Reading out stories and showing pictures will help your children visualise the importance of drinking water and internalise the lesson. 'Drinking Water' by Mari C Schuh is a good book to start with.
Make it fun: Children love drinking from brightly coloured cups, glasses or bottles with designs imprinted on them. Store water in such utensils in the fridge, as most children find cold water more appealing. You can encourage your children to take a bottle to their rooms or to the playground, or wherever they go. Add a few ice cubes of different shapes or pieces of fruits like strawberry and ask them to drink from a novelty straw to make it fun.
Change habits gradually: If your children have the habit of drinking sweet beverages, replacing them with plain water all of a sudden may provoke a backlash. It is best to gradually increase the amount of water to replace such drinks. One of the ways is to make your children drink a glassful of water before serving them fizzy drinks. This will help quench their thirst and they will be less likely to binge on the beverages. Once your children overcome the habit of drinking sugary beverages, ensure that you never stock your fridge with such drinks again. Also, try to be a role model for your children by drinking plenty of water yourself. When your children see you drinking water, they will also adopt the habit readily.
Keep track of progress: Children always like to keep track of their progress. Make a chart for your children to track the number of glasses of water they drink every day. Every time they drink a glass of water, put a sticker against their name. You can also store water in colour-coded bottles to make it easier for you to keep track of the amount of water they drink. If your children fulfil their weekly target, organise a fun water party to motivate them to stay on track.
Remember, resist the temptation to nag. Encouraging and motivating children to change their habits works the best. Tell your children how important it is to stay well hydrated to be fit and healthy. Also keep in mind that while it is important to drink water, the water consumed should be filtered and clean, and toxin-free.
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