05 Jun How to Set a Healthy Example for Your Kids
As moms, we can set an example for our kids. If you’re a mom, if you’re struggling or you just need some encouragement, then keep reading, because this post is just for you.
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The Model Mom
Tabloids, online articles and social media feed us pictures of women who are famous. Celebrity moms, and model moms, and it seems like they go through these perfect pregnancies, then they get their pre-baby body back so quickly.
Whenever we see that, we think that’s exactly how we have to be if we want to be a good example for our kids. It can be intimidating to see this seemingly perfect woman who has it all, who’s beautiful, and talented, and has a career, and has children, and has a great body.
We think that if we’re not that way, then we’re not a model mom.
Today, I want to talk to you about how you can be a model for your kids, because the truth is, you are your children’s first role model. As a mom, you have such an amazing responsibility to raise up and rear up these children for the Lord, and raise them up in a world that seems to be so against Him.
And we can do this in so many different ways. Because we’ve been talking about health recently, I want to share about how you can be a better example for your kids in your health.
What we do, the way we grew up, what we’ve seen, all those things make up our worldview. And that worldview makes up what we think normal is. As we grow up, we don’t even realize people live differently than we do.
For instance, when I was growing up, both my parents were teachers, and they had the summers off. Any weeks that my brother and I had off from school, they were off those same weeks because their work schedule matched our school schedule.
It wasn’t until I was a little older that I realized there are some parents that work through the summer! It’s only because my experience of what my home life was, became normal to me.
Your Example Becomes Your Child’s “Normal”
As my children grow up, I realized that the atmosphere that I am shaping for them, is what they see as normal. Things like the way I:
- speak to them
- choose to live
- keep my home
- talk about myself
- respond to things
I shape what my children see as normal; they don’t know anything else.
As your kids are growing, they don’t realize that their worldview is unique. They think that what they’re seeing is normal. They don’t know how much you’ve grown, they don’t know what other families and other homes are like.
What your children see as normal is what they’re going to model. Whatever you do now shapes their future.
Whenever I was growing up, my dad always took out the trash, and when my husband and I were first married, there was a couple weeks that the trash didn’t get put out, and I thought, “Aren’t the husbands the ones that take out the trash?”
It wasn’t until we got a conversation going about schedules and about whose job was what that I realized, my idea of normal wasn’t the same as everyone else’s.
The same is true for your kids, and it’s important for you to know that, because you are their first model. We see these moms that are models or celebrities, but we are a different kind of model.
Every mom is a model, and the first role model that your children have is going to be you.
Your kids want to be with you, they want to do what you do, and if you’re a mom, you can definitely relate to the fact that, wherever you go, your kids want to be there.
As soon as you’re on the phone, they want to be right there, if you’re going to the bathroom, you probably don’t get a moment’s peace before they’re knocking on the door.
Instead of seeing this as a bad, thing, we need to take advantage of it. We need to start going places, saying things, living our lives in the way that we want our children to grow up knowing as normal.
Example in Healthy Movement
How do we make good health the norm in our children’s lives?
Start by being the example. If you go outside to take a walk, they’re going to want to go with you.
I get asked sometimes, “What do I do if my child is overweight? How do I talk to them about that?” The first piece of advice that I usually give is, be active yourself. If you want your kids to be active, then go outside and they will come with you. I guarantee, if you’re going for a bike ride or if you say you’re going to the playground, they’re not going to say, “No thanks, mom, I just want to stay home.”
They want to be with you, they want to be doing what you’re doing, so play outside with them, go outside, take a walk as a family, ride your bikes, any of those things, because where you go, your kids are going to want to be there.
Be Mindful of how you talk about your body.
Another way that we can be a model to our kids is the way that we talk about food and the way that we talk about our bodies.
I heard a quote once and the woman was saying if you say something to yourself, is that the same thing you would allow your daughter to say about herself, or your sister to say, or your mother to say to themselves?
And if the answer’s no, then you shouldn’t be saying it about your own body.
Really be aware of how you talk about your body. If your kids see you stepping on the scale every morning and just being grumpy after that, they’re going to see that and think that’s normal.
Especially with daughters, I would say it’s extremely important to be aware of how you talk about your body, because you are their first role model. That’s what they’re going to see as normal, that’s the way they’re going to think they’re supposed to treat their bodies.
As moms, we really set the tone for our family’s health. We are the ones that, we’ll usually go to the store, buy the groceries, make the food, plan the meals out. Now, that’s not the case in every family, but even if your husband does those things, you still have a hand in it.
We can set the tone of health for our families. If you want your family to go outside, start by going outside, and I guarantee, they’re going to follow after you.
My boys are in T-ball right now, and my husband has been working with them and playing catch and practicing batting and things like that.
Now, my boys have iPads and we let them watch TV once in a while, but if their dad is outside and wants to play with them, they forget all that. They will spend hours outside with him because they want to be with him.
So, you have to be aware of how you are responding to activity and movement. If you come to exercise with the attitude of being excited or just having a positive attitude about it, they’re going to see that as normal and they’re going to want to do the same thing.
Pay attention to how you respond to foods.
We need to be aware of the way that we respond to certain foods.
My husband does not like fish, any seafood, really. He’ll take shrimp once in a while, but he just does not like fish at all. My boys and I love salmon and tilapia. But at first they were really hesitant to try it, because they know that he doesn’t like fish.
After awhile, my husband encouraged them to try new things, so they tried different foods, and enjoy it. Now, they pick on him all the time and they’re always telling him, “Dad, you need to try this!”
Be really aware of the way that you respond to foods. If you get vegetables or you say, “Oh, I just hate salads,” in front of your kids, they’re automatically going to assume that they don’t like vegetables because of the way that you responded to those foods.
Remember that the way that you talk about food, the way that you talk about exercise, and the way that you talk about your body, they are watching, they are listening and they are shaping their worldview based on what they see you do.
Now, as moms, we’re the ones that usually make the food decisions for the entire home, so it’s important to put foods in front of them that are good for them.
Eat vegetables in front of them, and you can have vegetables for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I would say, for every meal, there should be some kind of vegetable there. Breakfast, you can do tomatoes, things like that. You can put spinach in stuff. I make this chocolate protein shake and I put spinach in it, and they love it. They call it their Grinch shake.
So, if they get used to that, they decide on their own, “hey, this is normal and I don’t mind this.”
Another thing that you can do is to let your kids help you shop for vegetables. My boys and I did this a while back, where I took them to the grocery store and I let them each pick three different kinds of vegetables or fruits.
One of my sons picked radishes, cucumbers and kiwis. Then we went home and my older son, he’s learning about tables and science experiments and stuff like that at school, so he got a piece of paper out and he made up a little table that showed, “How many people in the family like this?”
He drew a picture of each vegetable, and then we all sat down and discussed the food.
We said things like “Hey, I really like this,” or, “What does this taste like? Is it tangy?” They had a great time and they were eating vegetables without complaint, because they were doing this as an experiment, figuring out, “Does my body like this? Do I like the taste of this?”
Now, because of that, we’re buying new fruits, new vegetables, having them at our house, that we didn’t have before, all because of this little experiment.
Be open to new foods and new recipes.
Be open to new recipes and new foods yourself. My husband and I have been trying this food delivery service, it’s called Hello Fresh, and it’s really fun. (Note: I’m not an affiliate or anything like that with them, but it’s just a fun project that my family has been doing.)
We get a box once a week and it has meals in it. Each meal comes with all the ingredients that you need except for salt and pepper and olive oil, things you would normally have in your house.
You get meals that are so out of the box from what you’re used to, and you get to have fun dicing things up and adding in different ingredients, and everything’s fresh, so there’s tons of vegetables in there.
There are meats in there (but I think there’s a vegan plan that you can do, too). You try all these different foods and all these different flavors, and it opens up your kids to foods that they might not always eat.
An example of this that happened recently, one of the dishes that came was this Korean dish, and it had mushrooms, zucchini, meat with some seasoning and rice, and carrots, and green onions. You put all this together in a rice bowl, and my boys ate it up. They could not stop eating it. In fact, my son said, “I think we need to go get some more mushrooms!”
My other son loved the zucchini, and those aren’t foods that normally kids automatically assume that they like, but because we’ve kind of trained them to try new things and go out of the box, and we always tell them, “Okay, you have to take at least three bites to try it, and then if you don’t like it after that, then try something else.”
But if you’re excited to try new foods and open to trying new vegetables, your kids are going to be the same way.
Realize that you make the decisions on what kind of foods come into your home and you make the decision on how you respond to those foods.
Dealing with Sweets
Another thing that we’ve been trying to do with our kids, and I say trying because we’re not perfect either and we do have a five and six year old in our home, so there are treats around, but one thing that we’re really working on is to make treats something that’s an occasional treat. Because treats are only treats if they happen once in a while.
The more that you have of something, the less special it is. If they have chocolate every single day, it loses its uniqueness and it’s no longer a treat. It’s just a normal part of the day.
If they go out to eat every single night, then that becomes not really that special anymore, it’s not really a treat.
Make treats actually a treat.
I have one son that is not really a sweet tooth. He’ll take one or two bites and then he’s off doing something else or he likes chips and things like that, that aren’t sugar.
My other son loves sweets, and he’ll end up eating all of it. After Halloween or Easter, when there is way more candy than usual at our house, I’ll put out some candy that they got, and then put the rest away. It’s out of sight, out of mind. After a while, they don’t even think about it, and when I discover it months later, I throw it away.
Once it’s out of their minds, they don’t think about it anymore. Especially if you’re working on these food experiments where you’re bringing in kiwis or you’re bringing in papayas, or all these different exotic fruits that you can bring into the house. They’re already excited about that, so you can put away those sugary treats without a fight, because once it’s out of sight, it’s out of their mind.
Being the Example when you go out to eat
The last tip involves going out to eat at restaurants.
Remember, because you are the example. what your kids see you do, they will model. Once in a while, my husband and I will get lemonade or ice tea, or he’ll get a soda, but normally, we have water at restaurants.
Our boys just automatically know, we get water. Yes, it’s cheaper, too, but mostly, we do that because it’s healthier for them. I don’t want them to be filling up on tons of sugary drinks and then paying for a meal that they end up not eating, which is usually what happens.
And for myself, too. If I get sweet tea, I’m not as hungry, because I’ve filled up on all these sweet drinks and caloric drinks. So when your kids see you choosing healthy meals at restaurants, they’re going to want to do the same thing. When they see you drinking water at restaurants, they’re going to do the same thing.
Soda is not really something that we bring into our home on a regular basis. Once in a while, my husband will get a bottle of soda and he’ll have it at home. But most of the time, we don’t even bring that into our house, so that’s what my kids see as normal.
If you have a refrigerator that has a water dispenser in the front of it, water is the easiest available option. Our kids love being able to get their water themselves. Plus, I’m happier knowing that they’re getting water instead of tons of juice or sweets..
I want you to know that your kids look up to you. Your kids are basing their view of normal on what they see you do, you are the example.
That’s a huge responsibility, but also, it’s one of those responsibilities that touches your heart. Because you realize that these little people that call you mom are paying attention to what you’re doing. And they want to be like you.
We can take the initiative.
We can be on the offensive and show them how to see being healthy as normal from a young age.