By Jessica Vician
This month, YOU Parent is featuring a series on making resolutions that address a child’s four core needs for success in life: social well-being, emotional well-being, physical well-being, and academic development. Visit us next Tuesday for the final article addressing academic development.
Children mimic so much of our behavior it’s sometimes a little unnerving. Do you remember how bad you felt the first time your toddler said a cuss word, without even realizing what he or she had said? What about the pride you felt the first time your child voiced an opinion that sounded like something you would do—something so unique that it linked the two of you together?
Whether it’s good or bad, our children model our behavior. That’s why it’s so critical to behave the way you want your children to, from watching your language to living a healthy lifestyle. We live in a challenging time for health—teen obesity has quadrupled in the past 30 years and anorexia and bulimia are prevalent in the teenage years and beyond. How you choose to behave around your children can make a big difference in their physical well-being in childhood, through the teenage years, and beyond.
This year, try one or more of these resolutions to promote a healthy lifestyle with your children.
- Eat healthier.
Load your plate with vegetables and fruits of all colors. A colorful diet of whole foods will give your body more nutrition and energy to tackle anything that comes your way. Do some research online to find out which foods keep your immune system ready and have the most vitamins and minerals, and talk to your kids about why those things are important. Need inspiration? Read how this mom teaches her kids about nutrition in the foods they eat every day.
- Exercise more.
Some people love to exercise and others loathe it. But exercise isn’t just about going to the gym. Find weather-appropriate activities you can do with your family to get the blood flowing and your bodies sweating (try dancing, playing in the snow, or indoor jungle gyms this winter). Sign up for a 5k race with your teen and train together. Whatever you do, you’ll be releasing toxins and kicking those endorphins—which help you fight pain and stress—into gear. You’ll feel better immediately and your body will thank you.
- Speak positively about your body.
Most of us have something (or many things) we’d like to improve with our bodies. Whether it’s a trimmer tummy, losing the stretch marks, or bigger goals, it’s okay to want to improve within reason. But be careful how you speak about your body in front of your children.
Instead of looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m so fat,” find something you like about yourself, and share it with your children. “I love my tiger stripes because they remind me of when you were born,” or “I like that my body curves in at my waist and back out again like an hourglass.” Ask your children what they like about their bodies. Your child will pick up on your attitude and message, regardless of what you say, so why not make it positive to promote better self-esteem?
These resolutions seem small and simple, but they may be more challenging than you expect. That’s okay. Take the challenge and choose at least one of these resolutions for 2015. Not only will your body and mind thank you, your children will benefit from the important lessons you’re teaching them.