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As a parent, I want nothing but the best for my daughter. I want her to have access to the best opportunities that she can have throughout her life. Also, I want her to make the best choices as she grows up. However, it is my responsibility to teach her how to do that. That includes giving her the skills to recognize what are healthy and unhealthy choices.
Adults tend to underestimate what children can do and accomplish. Adults want to protect children and may try to do everything for their child. There is nothing wrong with wanting to protect your child, especially when they are young. No matter what their age is, children are CONSTANTLY watching and learning from their parents and adults around them.
Your child will hang onto every word and action that you do. They will look to you as a leader in your household on how you go about your day, manage interactions, and even the habits you create. This is why it is so crucial that children can have opportunities to see and practice different healthy habits.
Modeling these habits when they are young will give them a better chance to internalize these habits when they are older. You might think this is a pretty simple concept. However, I do want to note that the United States is a country that has a severe problem with mental health and obesity in our children. As a parent, you cannot control EVERY aspect of your child’s life but you can find ways to influence them to be healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally. I would like to list these ways down below.
Healthy Habits to Model
It is a well-known fact that all living things need water to live. While this is a fact, I see people who purposely choose not to drink water. Your child will pick up on this and potentially internalize that they don’t have to drink water. They may prefer to drink beverages that contain sugar instead of water. This is problematic for two reasons:
First, drinking sugary drinks is bad for your teeth. Having a diet that consists of sugary drinks as your main drink can lead to many problems such as cavities, gingivitis, and can lead to more serious long-term problems such as loss of teeth. I am not suggesting that you need to cut it out completely out of your diet but limit how much you do drink. After drinking soda or juice, rinse your mouth out with water so it doesn’t sit on your teeth.
The other major issue with people who avoid drinking water is the fact that it can lead to obesity. Obesity is linked to many diseases and conditions that can be avoided such as heart disease, cancers, and diabetes. As a parent, I do not want my daughter on the road to having to depend on medications to live a somewhat normal life if it can be prevented. I’d strongly prefer that she has control over that aspect of her life and valuing drinking water is a healthy lifestyle choice I can model for her.
Making Dental Hygiene a Priority
There are stereotypes that dental hygiene isn’t important for young children. This couldn’t be furthest from the truth. Dental hygiene can be a precursor to other health problems later in life if it is not taken seriously. Having children take it seriously from the time they start getting their baby teeth can lead to habits that can prevent them from going down that road later in life.
Model for your child the importance of brushing your teeth and flossing. Make teeth brushing a positive experience for your child so that they enjoy doing so. Take your child to the dentist regularly and make that a positive experience for them. Find books and videos that paint the dentist in a positive light. Try and seek out a dentist who is patient and positive with young children. It can take one bad experience for your child to have anxiety when it comes to going to the dentist so it is important to make it fun.
Your activity level will speak volumes to your child on whether being active should be a priority or not. Living a sedentary lifestyle will only show your child that exercise isn’t important to their overall health. Getting up and being active will help your child lead to being a healthy state of mind and body.
Even if you don’t have a gym membership or gym equipment at home, there are ways to model an active lifestyle. As a parent, you can dance with your child. Going for walks outside or playing in the yard can encourage your children to not be sedentary. Having your child participate in sports or different activities could also do this.
Making Self-Care Important
What is a common theme in many of my blog posts? Making self-care a priority in our lives. Self-care is vital for your mental health. Communicating to your child that managing their emotions in healthy ways is critical for their well-being.
Without self-care, you become vulnerable to making reckless decisions that can have an impact on your relationships, jobs, and health. As a parent, I do not want to model self-destructive tendencies to avoid my daughter internalizing those behaviors as well.
If you need help with self-care, check out the Supportive Father’s self-care course and 30-Day challenge. These offerings will provide comprehensive self-care tips, enable you to reflect, journal, and apply what you learn to your life.
Empathy is a skill that allows us to understand how to respond to others in an appropriate manner. Without empathy, people can become callous, toxic, and stand out in a negative way. Showcasing empathy for your child is a powerful way to teach them that building and maintaining healthy relationships is an essential value in their lives.
For myself, I am constantly thinking about ways that my daughter can live a healthy life that is better than the life I had as a child. I am sure that you are hoping to do the same thing for your child. Some of these strategies are influenced by the choices or life circumstances we had as a child. However, there are ways that you can achieve this despite your life situation. Modeling the healthy habits above can accomplish this goal.
What parenting tips do you have for other parents who are looking to instill healthy habits into their children? Comment down below and share.
Cameron is the creator of Supportive Fathers. He created Supportive Fathers as a way to help explore topics other dads encounter in everyday life. Cameron is very passionate about being a father to 2 year old daughter as well as being the husband possible to his wife. To read more of his story, please click here.