Kids Fitness by Craig Nielson
photo by www.123rf.com
The greatest influence in your child's life is you. With that in mind the old clichés ring true, a chip off the ole block and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. To place your children on a path to happiness and health it is important to understand that what you model for them as well as where you lead them is crucial to their development.
Your relationship with food and the way you communicate with your children about healthy eating will greatly affect your children's eating habits. For example, I once worked with a woman who's mother continuously battled with weight issues. She remembered how her mother would routinely tell her "don't eat that, you'll get fat." For her at a young age this created a fear based relationship with food. Later she developed an eating disorder during her teenage years by becoming rebellious. She would secretly eat whatever she wanted and then throw it up. This way she was able to overindulge in the foods she was always told not to eat and avoid the weight gain.
It is important to note that her mother's intentions were good. She simply did not want her daughter to become overweight. Her mother just failed to offer her an alternative for eating healthy and did not talk positively about food.
Begin talking positively about food with your child early. For example, tell them it is important for us to make healthy choices about what we eat because healthy foods give our bodies good energy and we want good energy in our bodies so we can do all the fun things we like to do.
Your children will eat what you eat when you give them choices and boundaries. For instance, "you can have pees or carrots with dinner, which would you prefer." Giving them a choice gives them a sense of empowerment because it gives them a voice. Stick to what was agreed to and that is what will be served.
If your child comes back with "I don't like it", respond with "OK, you don't like it, however you made the choice in what you wanted. You don't have to eat it if you don't want to, but if you are hungry, this is all that we are having tonight." Don't yell or get upset, again this is about giving them a choice. If they chose not to eat, they will not starve overnight.
If your child demands something else and throws a tantrum, let them, and stick to what you agreed to. Tell them you know they are upset, and they can get upset all they want but you are not changing your mind. Remain calm and don't yell. This is where they will begin to learn where the boundaries are. The minute you give in to their demands, they have moved the boundary. They now know what works. I don't like what is for dinner, I refuse and get mad, then I get what I want. You are the parent, you decide.
Consider getting your child involved with an organization that promotes fitness. Girls on the Run is one example of a great choice for girls. Along with fitness they teach skills for goal setting and building positive self-esteem. For more information visit www.girlsontherun.org
Boy Scouts of America is a great choice for boys. The scouts promote fitness and teach skills in leadership and citizenship. There is even a merit badge for fitness. For more information visit www.scouting.org
Help your child discover ways they like to get moving. Is it running, biking, swimming, dancing, gymnastics, martial arts? Go explore with them. Hiking can be made fun by making it an adventure. Make it a treasure hunt by going geocaching. Visit www.geocaching.com for more information.
Many gyms now offer programs for kids. Check out the programs in your area. Take your child to the gym with you. I believe you will find more than anything, your child wants to spend time with you. Do what you can to make it quality time.
Use these tips to get your child on a path towards positive, healthy living.