Raising a child is hugely significant to what they become when they are adults. Most parents love their children and want the best for them. But most do not know how to live by example. More often than not we hear parents complain about lack of focus in their children, disobedience, disinterest, indifference and a growing sense of resentment. Besides they also struggle with poor eating habits, persistent complaining, little or no activity, health issues, lack of sleep and weight gain among very young kids even. While it may not be always easy, the only way to raise a healthy and conscious child is to be the role model in their life.
Too much love can hurt. Too little discipline can hurt too. What kids really need today are parents, not cool parents or parents who are more friends. Friendship is a great element in any relationship, but when it comes to parenting, children need adults who are responsible for them, people they can trust and feel safe and secure with. They need parents who understand, who love and care, and most of all who walk the talk. You cannot set rules that you don’t even adhere too. While what adults and kids can and cannot do are very different things, you need to understand yourself from the eyes of your child, and act within that space.
Parents often shortchange their responsibilities for varying reasons from lack of time to being tired by creating significant imbalances in their child’s life – junk food, late nights, age inappropriate activities, over indulgence in the forms of access to money or gifts.
Here, I would like to suggest a few things that may help strike the right balance while creating lasting memories and instilling positive habits in your child.
The first on this list is of course encouraging your child to exercise daily. Summer is a great time to be outdoors and active. Get your kids to learn a new sport, go to a gym class, swim, ride or take up martial arts or yoga. Just make sure it’s a regular part of their day. Rope in friends children too to make it more fun. Movies occasionally and limiting TV hours will help create the balance and encourage them to step outside their comfort zone to explore activity options. You can also make weekends more fun by going cycling, hiking, rafting, camping or swimming.
Children do better with routine even during holidays. You do not schedule every minute of their day or curtail their freedom and spontaneity but setting a routine helps create balance. Choose three specific practices to do at home. Examples are waking up at the same hour every day, an exercise class at a specific hour, an hour of reading or quiet time before going to sleep.
Introduce your kids to meditation and yoga. Unlike what is normally understood, meditation is not for people who are stressed, in the process of healing, or on the spiritual path. It instills mindfulness and can be done by anyone. There is no one way that is better than the other but there are a lot of simple techniques that can be easily absorbed like chanting or breathing practices or simply sitting still with your eyes closed for 5-10 minutes every day. The benefits of something as simple as this are innumerable.
Eat healthy. Get your children to participate in cooking and meal times. Let them decide the menu, help cut vegetables, lay the table. All the while, explain what good foods are and how eating healthy and eating mindfully help nourish the body. Introduce them to salads and let them create their own. Milkshakes, smoothies and desserts can all take a healthy twist with seasonal fruits and nuts.
Physical inactivity, obesity and lack of routine and structure can hinder a child’s mental, emotional and physical development. Be a positive influence in your child’s life. Display standards you want your child to have. Remember, in the future, your child’s decisions and values will be based on the seeds you sow today.