Every parent wants their child to grow up as a successful individual. When it comes to actually do so, though, often the conversation revolves around teaching character-building traits like responsibility, self-reliance, and confidence — but what about health? How do things like health and self-sufficiency connect to raising strong, independent children? Let’s break it down.
Raising Holistically-Minded Children
If you want to raise a strong person, it’s important that you approach their education in a holistic manner. For instance, you shouldn’t focus on academics while ignoring social skills. Having dexterous, skilled children who struggle to read and write does not a well-rounded education make. Teaching a child to be mindful and meditate is excellent, but if it comes at the cost of neglecting their health, it can undo much of the good work.
The point is, if you want to truly raise a strong person, you must make sure that you’re addressing all of the aspects of a healthy life — including the oft-ignored area of physical and mental health. That’s not to say that parents don’t consider their children’s health — they absolutely do. But how often do they actually teach their children to be independently healthy?
Empowering Your Children
A kid who is spoon-fed (sometimes quite literally) all of the “healthy” choices in life with little to no explanation is much more likely to abandon those good habits when they’re old enough to make their own decisions.
Instead of simply shoving healthy choices in their faces, then, it’s important to adopt an attitude of empowerment as you go about encouraging your child to live a healthy life. Whether you’re helping them choose between a donut and an apple or you’re walking them through managing stress from school, make sure to invite your child into the solution process. Enable them to learn about the problem, research the solutions, and then find what is the best option.
Guiding Your Children
The important step of empowering your children to make healthy choices should be carefully balanced by the equally important task of guiding your child as they learn to make those choices.
Think of it like learning to ride a bike. If you get right on the bike and ride it for them, they’ll never learn. However, if you just give them a push and leave them on their own, they’ll crash a few feet down the road. Instead, make sure to run alongside them, allowing them to make many of the choices, but guiding and counseling them as they go along.
Healthy, Self-Sufficient Activities for Your Children
While empowering and guiding are great core concepts to raising healthy, self-sufficient kids, actually applying that knowledge can be a bit tricky. With that in mind, below are a few suggestions for applicable ways for parents to both guide and empower their children as they learn to independently govern their own health:
Use Digital Health Tools
Preventative health is an increasingly important part of healthcare. If you can teach your children to proactively preserve their health, they’ll be better able to live healthy lives over the long term. A great way to do that is by incorporating digital health apps into your family’s lives. This can open your child’s eyes to things like their daily heart rate, food intake, exercise, and sleep routines.
Encourage and Gamify Daily Activities
Exercising isn’t just a task, it’s an art — and it’s worth teaching your kids to exercise with this kind of mindset. Whether you go for a daily family walk, join a local gym, or play pick up sports in the backyard, look for ways to gamify daily activities and encourage your children to willingly get in on the action.
Educate About Hereditary Family Health Issues
It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about something as serious as cancer, as troublesome as varicose veins, or as easily overlooked as mental health, if a condition is hereditary, make sure to teach your children about it as they grow up. The earlier they can take control and practice preventative health measures, the better.
Teach Real Self-Care
Self-care is a commonly misappropriated concept these days. Contrary to many “self-care” opinions and activities, it isn’t an excuse to have fun or do whatever you please. In fact, proper self-care should always be focused on wants rather than needs. In other words, proper self-care should help you become a healthier person, whether that’s through exercising, eating healthy foods, watching your weight, or getting proper sleep. It’s important for parents to model this accurate self-care concept to their children in order to teach them how to properly care for themselves throughout their lives.
Create Goals with Your Child
One of the best ways to teach self-reliance and responsibility is by setting goals together as a family. This can include eating healthy, unplugging from electronics, and creating an exercise routine, among many other things. Whatever you do, if you do it together as a family, you’ll be able to maintain healthy relationships with your children far into the future and simultaneously equip them to branch off on their own as healthy, self-sufficient, independent individuals.
What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments below. I really would love to know.
Until next time, shine amongst the stars!
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