Most parents who say "Do as I say, Not as I do" probably aren’t the most successful. With the goal of having our kids to be as healthy as possible, it’s important to lead by example. From our weight to our fitness levels to our daily habits, if we model the behavior we want them to follow, the better chance we have of them following our lead. Here are a few areas that as parents we can focus on to lead by example.
Childhood obesity is a problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2014, 17 percent of children aged 2-19 were considered obese. This leads to a host of other problems like diabetes, heart disease and depression. Weight is a tricky issue to discuss with kids. On the one hand, you want them to be healthy, but on the other, you don't want to damage their self-image and ego by making a big deal about what they eat and how much they weigh. This is only made worse if you struggle with your own weight issues.
The answer here is certainly not easy, but one thing that can help is to take control of your own eating habits and weight issues. Be sure you don't talk down about yourself or any other adult for being overweight and look for weight loss programs that promote healthy eating instead of fads. Be sure your kids know that you are trying to lose weight for your health, not to make you feel better or just to look better. Kids need to know they are beautiful and special no matter how heavy they may be, but also that they might be healthier at a lower weight.
Make Fitness a Family Affair
We know life is crazy and you are likely so busy juggling everyone’s schedules that you are lucky to have a time for you let alone find time to make it to the gym.
The good news here is that you can still make time for fitness either by yourself or with a family member or two. Try joining a local gym as a family going together whenever possible or join a local sports team. When you need that extra motivation to make it to the gym, remember your kids will see your commitment and learn from that example.
You can also work in fitness for the family in other ways. For example, gardening together is a great way to get in some exercise and learn about growing and making healthy food choices. You can also plan a family walk after dinner together, or even have a dance off.
Crush Those Bad Habits
Let's face it, we all have them. Whether it's cracking your knuckles, overeating or road rage, our kids are watching us, so pick what behavior you don't want them to model and change your ways, the earlier the better. If you don't want your kids to text while driving, stop doing it now when they are little. If you want them to wear seatbelts, wear yours. If you want them to treat other drivers with respect, you have to do it first.
No matter what we tell our kids, if we aren't modeling the same behaviors, we are sending them mixed messages. Take a look at your life and decide how much you want your kids to follow in your footsteps. If you don't like what you see, change your path now and show your kids what it means to live a healthier lifestyle.