The title of this post is actually a bit of a misnomer: it’s not about something you TEACH your kids, exactly. It’s something you SHOW them. Am I talking about discipline or respect? While those are very important, too, what I’m really addressing here is being healthy. You can talk to your kids until you are blue in the face about the importance of exercise and nutrition, but if you are sitting on the couch eating potato chips all day, chances are your message is not getting through!
Many of us pass on unhealthy habits to our kids without even realizing it. Every time you pass up that broccoli in favor of a cookie or take the elevator instead of the stairs, your kids are seeing that and getting the message that it’s okay. And while it may be easy to make the healthy choices when everything is going smooth in life, many parents falter when the stress starts coming into play. Many people grew up with parents who dried tears with ice cream or built happy memories around treats. And while food should be fun and should be a part of fun family experiences, it should also make you feel good. Not just good about eating it at the moment, but good about yourself. Feeling good from the inside, out! It’s all about setting the standard early. If your kids learn from an early age that cooking healthy meals together and going for walks around the neighborhood are enjoyable and fun, it will be much easier for them to continue to make healthy choices as they grow up.
Here are some great tips that I always give parents that help them be mindful of when around their kids: (Keep in mind, you are helping to turn them into healthy adults one day!)
- Be active any chance you get! Go for family walks, go to the park, shoot some hoops, make physical activity into games…have some fun with it! Not all activity needs to be structured exercise. It should be about PLAY for kids. (Plus, adults can use from time to be kids again too!)
- Take some of these physical activities and use them to help your kids cope with stress, emotions or just a plain old bad day. For example: ‘Let’s go for a walk and talk about what happened today.’ ‘Let’s go shoots some hoops and let off some of that frustration.’ This will help give them a positive outlet for stress relief- exercise! Food is great, but don’t always allow food to be the thing to “make you feel better”. As some of you know from experience, this can be a hard habit to break later in life.
- Let your kids see you care about what goes into YOUR body. Make healthy eating a family affair. Have cooking nights where everyone gets a task. Maybe the older kids can help cut or prep the food, while little ones get to add it to the pot.
- Talk about why you eat protein, fruits and veggies. Their minds are sponges and they latch on to ideas and get the most out of imitation. They see you do and then they will do! This is especially important for your young athletes. Help them learn how to fuel their bodies for the field! Protein helps them recover and get stronger and is crucial within 30 minutes post game or exercise BUT should be encouraged all day. (Same to you parents out there too.)
- Balance healthy eating with fun treats. Make sure they know the difference. You may be surprised how many kids will choose healthy foods over pop tarts if you give them options. Don’t just assume your kids want processed stuff just because they’re kids. Teach them that food shouldn’t be selected based on convenience.
- Most importantly, be active and eat healthy for you! Your kids watch and mimic your every move, even if you never have a discussion with them or do any of the other steps on this list. This is one of the best ways you can set them up for a healthy adulthood of their own.
We love our kids and want the best for them. The best way to ensure they make healthy choices as they grow older is to teach and model healthy life choices now. Hope you enjoyed that Tip from the Trainer.
Now doesn’t this make you want to come to boot camp tomorrow???