Setting a Healthy Example for Your Kids

When you’re home with the kids all day, they get to know all your habits, good and bad. Children are very observant and even if you think you’re pretty sneaky about some of your bad habits, they probably know about them.

fresh vegetables

Sure, you try some of those foods that you really don’t like but want your children to experience. I do that when it’s something my husband likes but I don’t. It can be challenging at times, and some of my food preferences my kids do know about, but I do the best I can.

And while there are ways you can sneak vegetables into your children’s food, better yet is to teach them how to enjoy them. You may find only a few at first that the kids like to eat, but it’s a start. It doesn’t matter if they only want to eat frozen corn or peas, they’re vegetables and a much better part of a snack or meal than many other foods. If you’re dealing with a picky eater you take what you can get and set the example for something better.

Some of what you can do may be very subtle. Things like using olive oil instead of vegetable oil in cooking so that you’re using a healthier kind of oil when you need it. Young children won’t get it. But as they learn to cook it will be something to talk about.

Being healthy is about more than teaching good eating habits, of course. Healthy eating matters quite a bit, but so does exercise and making other good choices.

In our family, formal exercise isn’t really a priority. However, we’re currently taking daily walks. We found some hiking trails just a couple blocks from our house. The kids enjoy them even more than the local playgrounds. We all come home dusty and a bit tired from these hikes, but we’re all getting exercise just as a matter of routine and the kids are learning about nature.

Now if I could just convince my son that they are “ladybugs” and not “potato bugs!”

The idea is to just make physical activity routine. We set the expectation and try to live up to it ourselves. We don’t do everything we expect of the kids; they’re often sent out to play in the back yard while I work on my computer. They learn to spend time away from any electronic entertainment and I get peace and quiet to work.

Your own bad habits can be a bit of a challenge. I can explain away my computer time because it’s necessary to how I earn a living. But actual bad habits can be more problematic.

Think about any parents you know who smoke. It’s much less common than it used to be; I don’t think any of my close mom friends smoke at all. But if you have a bad habit such as smoking or even biting your nails, children do notice and it’s harder to explain why they shouldn’t.

While it may not stop your child from picking up the habit in question, simply admitting that yes, you have a bad habit can be helpful. You’re being honest and it gives you a chance to explain why it’s a bad habit in an age-appropriate way. Sometimes kids will cheerfully try to get you to stop.

No one is a perfect parent, and I wouldn’t suggest trying to be one. But you can work out ways to set the examples you want to, and try to break out of the old routines that aren’t teaching your kids what you really want them to learn.

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3 Responses

  1. “When you’re home with the kids all day, they get to know all your habits, good and bad. Children are very observant and even if you think you’re pretty sneaky about some of your bad habits, they probably know about them.”

    This is so true. My mom used to have some pretty bad eating habits. It was obvious to me that she did, and it definitely influenced me in the wring direction. It took me years to relearn how to eat balanced, healthy meals and stop craving simple carbs and sugary stuff.

    I am trying to be a better role model for my own kids.

  2. I can still remember how my mom used to devour a full bag of Ruffles with a container of onion dip and a 2L bottle of Dr Pepper for lunch every day when I was in my early elementary days. It was like it was one long, run-on word: RuffleswithoniondipandDrPepper. EVERY DAY.

    I can also remember how much weight she lost when she just cut that “portion” in half. It was amazing…and scary. Decades later, during my single mom days, I found myself subsisting on Dr Pepper alone. (What can I say, I was a LITTLE stressed. lol) I lost weight from stress and since that was all I was ingesting, but it was still a lot of JUNK. BLEAH.

    BTW – thanks for entering the contest on Workerette too. Spread the word to any neighbors – I’ve got 3 bags and so far 2 entrants!!! 🙂

  3. Stephanie says:

    Will do! I have a birthday party here tomorrow. Should be a good time to catch some moms. If I think of it, I may just pull it up and suggest they enter. Then again I may forget completely until after the party. You know how crazy it gets with a house full of 6 year olds. LOL