Recently I did the Australia Day Fun Run. I was blown away by the amount of kids that did the run with their parents. Some of them absolutely left the adults for dead at the start as they raced off. After a while most settled down and ran along with either their mum or dad. It was so great to hear the parents offering so many positive comments and encouraging words as the kids started to fatigue. 5 klm for a primary school aged child is an awesome effort.
This made me start to think about how parents can have such a positive effect on their children's general health and happiness. Really when kids are little a parent has such a massive impact on a child's idea of what it is to be healthy.
There are a few key ingredients when it comes to helping your child grow up healthy and happy.
Doing things together
Doing things together is so important. Just as the parents were doing at the fun run. If you want your kids to grow up wanting to be active then get out there and join them informally playing games. As they get a little older then games like tennis, basketball or football are all ideal to have a go at together. One of my clients the other day had organised a family tennis match. Mum and dad versus the kids. I am sure they had fun.
Be positive about your child's effort and ability
Now I know from experience not all kids are going to be great at every sport. Even if your child is clumsy and looks awkward when playing games or exercising, give them encouragement as at least they are giving it a go. I have sat on the sidelines when my kids played team sports and I was often horrified by parents comments regarding their child's ability. Negative comments can turn a child off being active for life. So always be positive. In saying this, also make sure that you do not make comments about their friends and team mates either. Kids listen and take all this in and negative comments again will stick like glue.
Lead by example
If you lead an inactive lifestyle and spend more time on the couch than you should this is promoting an sedentary way of living. Brainstorm ways that you can be more active and just give things a try. There are just so many options out there. Our group program is very social and for most of my ladies they come along to have a chat and catch up as well as exercising. I love school holidays too as so many of my clients bring their kids to training. The kids see mum having fun with other mums and this shows them that exercise is fun. I also love it when the kids join in the session as it is a fabulous way to have some mum/child time. So why not come and try a class and get more active so that you are a positive role model for the kids.
When it comes to eating well, if you are a fussy eater then the chance is your child will also be a fussy eater. If you don't eat vegetables, you can't expect your child to grow up loving them. Why not try new foods together and make it fun. Get your kids involved in the kitchen and create some new dishes together.
Promoting a positive Body Image
It is scary but eating disorders and body image issues effect so many people both young and old. It is so important to promote to your child a positive body image.
If you are commenting on your own body in a negative way - for example saying "I have to lose weight as look at my belly bursting out from my jeans" What message is this sending to your child. Even worse I have heard parents telling their children that they are fat as an excuse when the child asks for a treat food. What is this telling the child? If you are really worried about your child's weight or eating patterns try and make small changes one at a time and do it together. Lead by example and explain that you are being healthy rather than dieting. Talk about how your body needs healthy food to make it work better. Talk about how you can have more energy and how your heart and muscles need fuel to work well. If you need assistance see a dietitian that specialises in children's nutrition.
Remember our children are the grown ups of tomorrow and we all want the very best for them.
P.S. Stay tuned for my free kids bootcamp session coming up in March.