Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top Tip - Model Good Habits

We all want our kids to eat healthy food but often struggle with making it happen. On Tuesdays, the Sprouts and I will share our top tips for making healthy living a habit from both a parent and child's perspective.
Last week for Top Tip Tuesday, I shared a story of a pivotal moment for me in my journey towards health . . . a time when Big Sprout, as a baby, reached for a bite of what I was eating and I didn't want him to have it.

At that moment, I decided that if it wasn't good enough for my baby, then I probably shouldn't be eating it either. It made me look at nutrition in a whole new way. But even more than that, it made me realize that he was old enough (at the ripe old age of one, by the way) that I couldn't tell him one thing and then do another. I couldn't tell him to eat carrots while I ate cookies. The effects of my words would only last for so long . . . instead, I needed to model the behavior I wanted him to adopt.

So that's where our journey towards health started, and we've been traveling a healthier path ever since. It's much easier to keep the kids eating healthy when Jim and I aren't bringing into the house any treats for ourselves. It's easier to keep them active when they see Jim and I committed to our own activities, whatever they may be at the time. And during times - such as the holidays - when we digress a bit, I can see an immediate different in the kids' habits as well.

Call me crazy, but one of the parenting fundamentals I'm most stuck on is teaching independent thinking. I don't want my kids to do what I tell them to do without ever questioning it. Okay, well sometimes I want them to but in my heart, I know that being taught to think for myself and make my own decisions was one of the best life lessons I ever received. Instead of just learning to "obey" (in quotes because it's a four-letter word in our house), I want them to learn the reasons behind each decision, the alternate choices and the consequences of each. And then, when the time comes, I want them to (insert deep breath here) make the best decision for themselves.

Of course, deep down I secretly hope that they'll ultimately agree with me - but I know it's not really my decision. And that's why I'm such a stickler for teaching my kids why nutrition is so important rather than just telling them to eat what I feed them. I know that one day they'll be grown and I won't be there every day telling them what to do. Instead, they'll be making their own decisions about what is and isn't healthy (or whether or not to even care). And all I'll be able to do at that point is hope that the example we have set and the knowledge we've imparted are enough to have shaped their healthy habits for a lifetime.


  1. I recently wrote a similar blog post about how we are role models for our kids also. I seem to have them modeling my positive attitude now but we still struggle with food choices. I am the opposite of you and I require better choices for myself than I do for the kids. I know that they need healthy food to grow up properly and yet I promised myself no food battles so I sometimes get stuck between the two. I hope that just my example is making a bit of difference at least.

    Thanks for 'top tip tuesdays'!

  2. Well hey, I need to work on my positive attitude . . . it's always something, right??? Honestly, I think in the long run, our actions will stick with them long after our words are forgotten.