Lead by Example: Living a Healthy Lifestyle
Often, one of the largely underestimated influences in a child's life is the actions of their parents. When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, many parents set expectations of their children but behave in hypocrisy. Telling a child not to smoke – when you do – or limiting sodas and junk food – but indulging yourself are just some of the mixed messages that parents can send their children. It is difficult, at best, to be the perfect role model to your own children, especially given the fact that they live with you and are privy to all the very personal aspects of your life. But – it is a parent's job to try!
The American Academy of Psychology suggests when children grow up with parents who have bad habits, they are 65% more likely to take on those habits as adults. The same is true for children who grow up with parents who try to live a life with the utmost of health in mind. If this is you – then your child is 65% more likely to follow in your healthy footsteps. Preserving health is the key to longevity and the number one ingredient for a happy and successful life. By showing our children the way, we are leading them down a road of health and happiness that will enable them to flourish.
Another aspect of living a healthy lifestyle is that it comes from an attitude of gratitude for the life and body that we have. Respecting ourselves at the deepest level of our being leads to self confidence and esteem, positive self image, assertiveness, and an innate ability to trust in our decisions and become a leader in life. All of these qualities are ones that every parent wants for their child. When we care about our lifestyle and strive to set our goals high, we are enforcing the fact that our lives have a lot of worth. As children watch this- they learn by the example they are being shown and develop a great deal of respect for themselves along the way!
Naturally there are things as parents we will do on occasion that don't show our children the picture perfect example. It is widely understood that the rules for adults and children differ greatly. The point is that our children see us drinking wine on occasion – not every day. Or they see us skip our exercise program for a weekend – but not every day. Our children may see us being couch potatoes every Sunday, but realize that for the better part of our life we are active and involved. The occasional slip into unhealthy things does not predetermine our child's future.
Children are also extremely adept at picking up on hypocrisy. The “do as I say, not as I do” mentality may work when kids are very young, but as they grow and reach the important years of unfolding, they will be the first to point out this hypocrisy. At that point, our words will carry little meaning compared to our actions.
Living a healthy lifestyle is much more than eating right and exercising. There is also health in emotional wellbeing and the ability to talk things through, act without anger or temper, control one's actions, and take responsibility for oneself. As your children bear witness to Mom and Dad utilizing calm emotions as their compass and implementing fairness and integrity, they too will be learning about emotional health.
There is no way to get around all the little eyes that are upon you. They are watching you and listening to everything you do. They are also learning much about the way life is supposed to be lived by experiencing their life through your vision. It is wise to include a healthy lifestyle as part of the parental plan when raising children. After all – successful parenting is really about raising a successful adult, and successful adults always realize the importance of a healthy lifestyle.