How parents can be a good role model

How parents can be a good role model

There is no one in the world who can influence a child the way a parent can, especially when it comes to they way your child learns to think and feel about food. But the older kids grow, the greater the role that other outside factors start to play in a child’s life.

This means that parents should start teaching their children about healthy living long before they are faced with high fat, high sugar options at schools, friends’ houses, and after-school programs. Instead of waiting for your child to develop unhealthy eating habits and then setting out to undo the damage, use your powerful influence to shape the way kids think and feel about food long before they are ever exposed to the world of milk and cookies.

This may seem like it is much easier said than done, because as most parents already know, it is no easy task to persuade a child to give up cookies in exchange for an apple. Try using these helpful tips to guide you in the right direction.

Be a positive example: One of the significant ways in which parents influence their kids comes from watching, not listening. That “do as I say, not as I do rule just doesn’t work. Children pick up on their parents’ behavior and mimic them. This rule doesn’t just magically disappear at the dinner table or during snack time.

It is important that parentss learn to make themselves into a lifestyle role model. When you say eat your veggies or you can’t have dessert and then you leave half of your vegetables on your dinner plate uneaten, you are sending ambiguous messages to your child. When your child is confused about what to do, he will probably do as you do, and not as you say. So lead by example and always eat all of your veggies at dinner time.

Food is not a reward. This also means that you have to be careful about they way you reward and punish your children. When you talk to your kids about the importance of staying away from high fat, high calorie, high-sugar foods you can’t turn around and make those very foods the rewards they get for doing something right.

Good deeds get good rewards, not bad ones, so bad foods will suddenly be good foods. Children might also begin to associate bad foods with good feelings and happiness, and as a consequence will start to prefer to eat those foods over all others.

At the same time, taking away sweets as a punishment also sends the message that good kids get the good stuff and the good stuff is a fresh batch of mom’s homemade brownies. Find a different “privilege” to take away, as long as it isn’t food.

Exercise portion control. Instead of forcing your child to clean his plate when he isn’t hungry, start him off with very small amounts of food so that none goes wasted when he gets full. If your child truly wants more food out of hunger, offer him more vegetables or a piece of fruit rather than more meat or bread. If he really is hungry, he’ll take it. Otherwise, don’t allow or strictly limit second helpings. Parents should follow this same rule in order to set a good example.

Remember that it is never too late to begin teaching your children how to live a healthy life.


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