As a parent, you already know that your job is to keep your children safe, healthy, and happy. One day, though, they’ll fly the proverbial coop and be responsible for themselves. Luckily, the lessons you teach them now can help them make difficult choices in the future.
Today, we suggest some areas where you can model behaviours that will positively influence your children for the rest of their lives.
It’s never too early to open up a discussion with your children about how they want their lives to look in the future. If you aren’t where you thought you would be, show your children that it’s always possible to hit the reset button.
Let’s say you’re stuck in a job you hate when you’d prefer to work with computers. Going back to school now for IT will help you land a great job in cybersecurity, data management/analytics, or other high-paying areas. Nursing is another example of a degree you might pursue.
No matter what career path you take, your children will learn from you that following their passions is crucial to their overall health and well-being.
Children tend to grow up around the same people, and, often, their circles are quite small. Make sure that your children are fully aware that not everyone looks, sounds, and acts like they do. Help your children learn about other cultures from an early age. You can do this by investing in toys that promote inclusivity, visiting museums, and broadening your own friend group to include people of other races, gender orientations, religions, and economic situations.
Exercise is something else that your kids need to be healthy, and so do you. According to Good Housekeeping, staying up and moving helps children control their weight, build strong bones, and reduce their risk of serious diseases, including osteoporosis and cancer. Run, jump, and play with your kids every day. You can also invest in active toys, such as a trampoline with a safety net, roller skates, or a basketball goal.
The desire for human connection is as natural as breathing. It will come as no surprise when your children eventually wish to begin “dating.” A good rule of thumb is not to let your children engage on solo dates before the age of 16. However, you should talk to them about everything from sex to love in an age-appropriate manner as young as possible. Let them see you show affection to your partner and, if your own relationship is unhealthy, don’t be shy about going to therapy or walking away.
Another important facet of human health is the way we eat food. The Kelsey-Seybold Clinic suggests using the food pyramid as your guide. Let your children see making healthy choices. For example, grapes and cheese as a snack instead of a candy bar. You can also get them in the kitchen to cook with you, which is an excellent way to not only teach life skills but also expand their understanding of everything from food to math and creativity.
Our final important tip is to model healthy sleeping habits. Your teenager needs at least nine hours of sleep each night, according to Johns Hopkins. While it is very tempting to stay up late and watch your favorite shows or to finish working at midnight, you are only teaching your children that they have to push themselves beyond their limits, which is a quick path to them burning out before they ever shine bright.
Kids today have access to knowledge like no generation before them. But, with social media, they don’t always get the right message. Remember, positive choices in life start with you, and the more you do in the real world to teach, encourage, and model healthy behaviors, the more likely your children are to follow. From learning how to include others to eating for their health, the tips above are all simple things you can do starting now.