Written by guest contributor Carrie Spencer
As parents, it’s easy for us to get caught up in telling our kids to do as we say and not as we do. But, as Parents magazine explains, children actually learn by imitating adults. This applies to virtually all areas of life, including learning how to make healthy decisions.
In today's post, we will take a look at how to model and encourage healthy behaviors for the youngest members of your family.
Staying active. If you take a look at teenagers today, you’ll see that the vast majority of them spend most of their time in their bedrooms on their computers or other devices. This is, in part, spurring an epidemic of obesity. Teach your little ones to stay active by playing with them and exercising so they can see you. Further, you can provide your children with physical activity opportunities at home with the RAD Pikler® Triangle, which also helps develop gross motor skills and serves as a self-soothing form of entertainment.
Get advice from a professional. You don’t have to know everything about parenting, and there’s nothing wrong with seeking help from a pediatrician, psychologist, nutritionist, or other professional. If you are on a budget, consider choosing an online healthcare provider, which is readily available (thanks to the pandemic) and even more affordable than an in-person visit. Plus, when you choose online, you’ll have access to treatment providers from all over the country, and it may even be easier to get prescriptions or medical advice when you need it most.
Eat healthy foods. The food we eat serves as fuel for today and in the future. When you teach children how to prepare food for themselves, they may be less likely to survive off drive-through meals as they get older. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver suggests letting babies as young as nine months get into the kitchen, working one-on-one with little ones, and offering a few samples throughout the food preparation process.
Showcase leadership skills. It’s no secret that those that lead are the ones that make the decisions. Teach your children how to be a leader from the beginning so that they don’t feel pressured to follow the flock as they enter their adolescent and teenage years. Being a good leader yourself showcases integrity and your desire to motivate others to make positive changes in their lives.
Be affectionate. One of the best things you can do for your children is to be affectionate. Hug them, kiss them, tell them you’re proud of them and offer lots of physical contact. Humans are hardwired for touch, and, as the Love To Pivot blog explains, those who grow up without affection may feel like they don’t deserve love later in life.
Have a healthy relationship. More than just giving your children affection, you should also showcase healthy relationship habits with your spouse or partner. Healthy relationships are crucial to physical and mental well-being. Let your children see you hug your adult friends and family, work out disagreements in a respectful and healthy way, and spend time with and apart from those you love.
With children, it’s “monkey see, monkey do.” It is not enough to tell your children to change their behaviors. If you want them to grow into healthy and emotionally well adults, you have to model healthy behavior starting from an early age. From eating well to being a leader to offering hugs every day, the above tips are just the beginning, and you will no doubt find other ways to teach by example as your children grow.
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