Today’s post is written by guest contributor Zara Lewis. I love the ten points she brings up for teaching kids healthy living. So often we boil a healthy lifestyle down to our physical well-being, but today’s post looks deeper, touching on raising emotionally healthy kids with strong character, too! Enjoy reading with me…
As a parent, you have an immense responsibility when it comes to the way your children will be brought up and what values you’ll instill in them. Personally, I find honest and quality living to be of utmost importance (for everyone, and my little ones the most). Every day I give my best to teach them values and nourishing habits they’ll not only grow to love, but that will turn them into better humans, too.
Here are the 10 healthy habits we’ve committed to in our home to do just that, and it’s going great!
1. Be Their Starting Point
Kids learn by observing more than you know; often, they’ll pick up things you never knew you said or will imitate gestures that you are not even aware of yourself. For this reason, you first need to conduct yourself well, and then try to teach kids a specific set of values.
A healthy family is the base of all other aspects of healthy living, and if relationships within your family are protected, nourished, and based on love, then your children will have a healthy ground to start from.
2. Dedicate Time To Them
In the crazy, hectic times we live in, we rarely ever get to spend time with those we love the most. And you know what? In the long run this may take a very big toll. The absence of parental love may endanger a child’s emotional development, which is why it’s extremely important to find the time to be with your children for a few hours a day, even if you are just engaging in light activities like talking, watching a movie, or sharing a meal. Be present and provide them with emotional confidence they (often) lack in the early age.
3. Nourish a Good, Caring Heart
Instead of making it about comfort only, sign the whole family up as volunteers in the local homeless shelter. It will benefit your kids to understand that they were blessed with having the life they do and to develop consciousness about helping others in need.
4. Communicate With Them
Talk to them, and even more importantly, listen to them! Listening to the thoughts that are important to our children will help them understand that they are important as individuals.
It is also vital that our children learn to communicate with truth, respect, and thoughtfulness. Your kids may be too little to understand big life truths, but they will probably be able to understand the importance of being an honest individual.
A fun way to teach some of these communication values is to do so through an interactive game. For instance, write all values on pieces of paper; everyone takes out a few and then you go about explaining and brainstorming what those things are (touch upon honesty, fairness, modesty, candor, etc). Whoever gets the most terms right gets a prize! (And speaking of interactive games, here is a great site that I use to grab fun ideas from.)
5. Encourage Physical Activity
The curse of modern living is that we’ve all become stuck to our gadgets and often forget about the impact physical activity has on our physical and mental health, and overall well being. Teach your kids the importance of physical activity practically – have some workout equipment installed in your backyard and go exercising together. (We own this exercise bench, as well as this one, and our kids love trying to exercise on them!) Or, sign them up for a sports class. Talk to them about why being fit matters.
6. Teach Them Love for Family
Love is considered something that can’t be taught, practiced or exercised, and indeed – that’s true. However, for love and appreciation to develop for one another (in cases other than impulsive romantic relationships), kids need to be “instructed” on who they are to love.
If you nourish good family relationships, show them they should love their aunties and uncles, their cousins, grandmas and grandpas, as well as their brothers and sisters (naturally), they’ll develop a healthy sense of family values that they’ll grow into and with. Hug your mother-in- law in front of your children, laugh things out with your sister-in-law, play with your sister’s kids and yours – it will all build a very positive picture.
7. Build Trust
For a relationship to work, trusting the other party is crucial. Trust, however, needs to be practically learned. Don’t lie to your children; start by not missing out on play dates you’ve scheduled (or movie nights, pizza night, etc.). Trust is built on little things that are later found a basis for bigger issues and truths.
8. Teach Them Respect
Respect, just like trust, is earned, and you need to be a role model for that respect to take fruit. Actions speak louder than words and when your children see how respectfully you conduct yourself toward certain people and in various situations, they’ll pick it up as their own thing. Plus, make some time to talk to them about the respect for authority, older people, their teachers, you – communication is everything.
9. Encourage Love for Animals
Just as we feel (or not feel) close to certain people, so do we feel (or don’t feel) close to our pets. The truth is, this love, too, is exercised, so make sure your kid understands how important it is to be good to animals. Even if they don’t fawn over them, they should always have the consciousness of aiding them, never intentionally hurting them and being kind to them – just as they would be with their best friends.
10. Instill in Them a Love for the Environment
Sustainability, organic food/products, and environmental consciousness play a big role in the world of today, and your kids need to have proper awareness of what’s going on. Explain to them how important it is to take care of the earth (and increase their health) by being aware of things around them. Teach them what they can do to contribute.
Us parents feel like we are failing a lot the time, no matter how well we’re doing, but trust me – things will pay off in the long run.
Article by Zara Lewis // Photos by My Darla Clementine