Getting your kids to (willingly) drink more water may appear difficult, but it’s not that hard to do, and it starts in the home. When you have sugary beverages and soda available in the fridge, that is what your kids will reach for first, and water becomes simply a clear substance they occasionally bathe in. If your household could use a lot more water consumption, then you can start doing that right now, and it starts by your leading example.
The best way to determine how much water each individual should drink is by simply taking your weight and dividing it in half, and that is how many ounces you are required to drink a day water-wise. So your 16 year old should likely have more water in a day than your 10 year old. Say your 11 year old weighs 80 lbs. 80 lbs divided by 2 is 40, so your 11 year old needs 40 ounces of water a day. 8 ounces in a cup means your child should be drinking 5 cups of water a day. When you have an accurate idea of water consumption per body weight, it’s a lot easier to imagine your children drinking enough water in a day.
So now that you know how much water your kids should be drinking, how on earth do you get them to drink it? Short of holding their head under the faucet, it’s difficult to get them to drink the clear stuff. Think of it in easy terms, a cup of hot cocoa is a cup of water, a glass of milk is another. Soda, however, is simply wasted calories so even though they are getting water in their systems, it’s so diluted with sugars, calories, and high fructose corn syrup it’s enough to make you cringe. Instead, stop bringing soda into your home, replacing soda with low-calorie but tasty beverages like Gatorade, Powerade or Crystal Lite (my niece loves this stuff, and the off-brand versions taste identical). These low calorie, electrolyte-infused beverages keep your kids hydrated and focused throughout the day, without you having to worry about their consumption.
To get your kids to take water with them to school, allow them to choose their own “cool” water bottles. Even I found that having a water bottle that looks awesome encourages me to drink more water simply because I love my cool accessory. You can even buy water bottled with a cup counter in them, so every time you refill you can move the knob to another cup to monitor how much water you drink in a day. My sister has one, and it is this cool gadgety looking water bottle that she watches her water consumption with. Kids love gadgets. Get them their own water bottle in their favorite color and they are sure to at least take it to school.
Always have cold water or less sugary beverage in the fridge, and keep water bottles in the freezer with 1/4 inch water in them to freeze and keep their beverages cold during the day. Your kids are most likely to gulp down water when it’s ice cold. Or you can make fresh fruit ice cubes (make a light, low calorie juice and put fresh chopped strawberries, whole blueberries, or small grapes in the beverage, and freeze into ice cubes) to add to your basic water at dinner for a fun, lightly fruity drink that when melted has fruit pieces left over to eat. Looks good, tastes good, and gets some fruit in your kids, too.
Fruity ice cubes are also great for putting in pre-made juices and teas. A glass of Gatorade is more fun with blueberry ice cubes in it. The key is to make water and low-sugar beverage consumption fun.
What you should NOT do is sit there drinking a diet soda in front of your children. If they can’t have soda, neither should you. Set an example and have a glass of water with a lemon wedge. Yum.
When taking your kids in public, order water in restaurants, and bring along your own Crystal Lite or lightly sugared packages and put them in your drinks. Restaurants don’t care if you do this, and it allows you to have a great beverage without breaking the bank. Don’t have occasions where your kids can have soda, because this will get everyone off course.
Soda should be a luxury, not a daily consumption for anyone. It provides empty calories, sugar, and false energy and deprives us of consuming the nutrients we really need. In a nation where we need to be drastically more health conscious, substituting our sugary treats for healthier, tasty alternatives is a great way to start.