YOUR HABITS DICTATE YOUR KIDS HABITS
First thing I want to say here is, I am no expert about kids or behavior. I am a dad and a personal trainer who wants what is best for my kids, and other parents and their kids. I have some thoughts and I have shared them on my Instagram account, but I want to go a little deeper here. Your kids are watching you, listening to everything you say, and doing what you do whether you are aware of it or not. This goes for everything, but I will just focus on health and fitness.
Take a look at your current lifestyle and all of your good and bad habits. Is that something you wish upon for your child? If you want your child to be healthy, and have healthy habits going into adulthood, you should as well have those habits. Actions speak louder than words, you can tell your kids not to watch tv all day, but if you watch tv all day then they will mimic your actions.
WATCH WHAT YOU SAY
Words can have a big impact on a kid, even if it’s not directed towards them. Here is what I mean, if you are always talking about how your body looks, good or bad, and want to use exercise to change your body, what kind of message are you sending to your kid? In their mind, exercise is about how you look.
How about this one, you talk about eating a couple donuts, then say you need to go and exercise to burn off those calories. Again, in their mind they are associating exercise with a way to punish your body for eating something. Does this sound like a healthy relationship with food or exercise?
The way you talk about yourself in front of your kids can have a major impact on how they see themselves. Take a look at how you talk about yourself, are you talking about how you look, or using exercise to punish yourself? How about how certain foods are bad because they will make you fat? This message is teaching your kids that there are good and bad foods and that exercise is punishment.
WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD?
So exactly what should be said around your kids about nutrition and exercise? You want to help them see it as a positive thing in your life as well as theirs. Instead of talking about your body in a negative manner, talk about what your body is capable of doing.
Right now my daughter is 3 years old and about to be 4, and she loves being in the home gym with me. I never talk about losing fat or how my body looks in front of her, instead I talk to her about what I can do in the gym.
I don’t just talk about it, I show her.
I show her that our bodies are capable of hanging from a bar, which she loves doing and can almost do a full pull up. I praise her for her hard work, for being able to hang and tell her she is strong.
Right now, exercise is another form of playtime for her. She will hang and do her best to do a pull up, she will grab a weighted medicine ball and see how far she can throw it. My goal is to teach her that exercise is this normal thing we do in our lives, use it as playtime and a way to have fun.
Use words such as playtime and fun when talking about exercise. Be sure to show your kids what your body and what their bodies are capable of doing. Let your kids know that exercise is a way for you to feel strong, and to feel good. Be honest and tell them it is hard work, but with hard work comes the reward of satisfaction of what you achieved.
Nutrition is trickier, but you want to create a healthy relationship with food. Instead of saying this food item will make you fat, or this is bad for you, try something like: This donut is yummy, but too many will hurt your stomach, or make you feel unwell. Be honest, donuts are delicious and if you eat too many you’re going to get a stomach ache. Food is not good or bad, it’s how you use it. Too much of anything is bad for us, is donuts rich with nutrients, no but the occasional donut is not going to hurt.
Talk to your kids on how foods can make you feel and not about if it is fattening or not. Lots of sugary items tend to make you feel unwell, while plenty of veggies help you feel good.
This is not just for your kids, this is for you as a parent as well. Talk about yourself in a positive way, tell yourself that exercise is there to help you feel strong, confident, feel good and move better. Nutrition is a way to fuel your body for the day, be kind to yourself.
YOUR KIDS ARE WATCHING
My goal with my kids is to teach them that exercise is about what your body is capable of doing when you put in the work. At a young age, it is a form of playtime, which I hope will help them associate exercise as fun and something that they get to do, and not have to do.
You do not have to do it all the time, but make a habit of working out while your kids watch. They will look up to you and try to do what you do. Make it fun and see what they can do. Watch them progress and praise them when they achieve a task. Praise their hard work, and watch their smiles light up.
You are a role model for your kids, talk to them and show them healthy habits, because they are watching and learning from you.