Children’s most formative years are from birth to the age of five. This is when they begin to develop their intellect, personality, and social skills. It’s also a time for children to be surrounded by positive role models and learn how to enjoy living a healthy lifestyle. All adults are socially responsible to inspire every new generation to be fit, healthy, and active. When we think about the future, we often wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or in this case, the healthy adult or the healthy child?
Children are surrounded by adults from the moment they are born until they, themselves, become adults. These are the people who will influence your kids during their most important years of developing their preferences. As parents, we have the opportunity to be the foundation for our kids. Once they are in the hands of others, we begin to allow others to shape their way of thinking. This is the time to be great role models and to constantly remind our children of positive lifestyles. As a fitness professional and the co-founder of a preschool fitness program, I’ve put together a list of ways for YOU to be positive—it will rub off on the kids as they watch you enjoying life. Try this fun, comprehensive guide on how to become a positive role model for your kids.
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Make fitness fun. I’m here to tell you that if you don’t love your fitness activities, you won’t enjoy the journey to health and your kids will interpret fitness and exercise as a negative word. So, go out there and find what makes you happy! You can try group fitness classes at a large gym, in a boutique fitness studio, or even at home with a DVD. Maybe you prefer outdoor activities like biking, hiking, surfing, etc. As the primary role model in your child’s life, it is your responsibility to learn to enjoy exercise, make it part of everyday life, and share your fitness with family and friends.
Stop counting calories. When we talk about kid’s fitness, we never mention words like, calories, weight loss, fat, thin, etc. As fitness professionals, enthusiasts, parents and teachers, we want to always practice what we preach. Can you imagine a four year old counting calories in their lunch box? No, and neither should you. Kids eat when they are hungry; they stop eating when they are no longer hungry. They move when they want to have fun; they sleep as long as their bodies require them to sleep. We should learn from our future generation and stop beating ourselves up about the number of calories we’re consuming and instead enjoy our meals and enjoy our fitness.
Avoid negative self-talk. Do your best not to degrade yourself with comments like, “I’m not skinny enough. I shouldn’t have eaten that. I hate exercising. I’m too upset to look in the mirror today.” Your kids are absorbing every negative and positive thing you say out loud. They can even interpret your body language. Crazy, right? It’s time for us to overpower the negativity that we see around us, especially in the media and to start talking in more positive ways. For instance, we can teach our children that going to the gym allows us to be strong and healthy, instead of skinny. We’re eating healthy to prevent disease and to enjoy what our bodies can do for us instead of dieting.
Kids are so intuitive and we’re often missing clues that they are modeling our behaviors. Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if your attitude was healthier and you got excited every time it was time for the gym? Or you cooked healthy meals at home with your kids, letting them participate?
Ethel Baumberg has an MPH in health education and behavioral sciences and is the business director and co-founder of FLYAROO Fitness, the first nationwide customizable preschool certification fitness program created for children ages 18 months to 6 years old.