Talking to your children about well-being, exercise, and nutrition is challenging!
On one hand, you want your child to be healthy and active. On the other hand, if you speak to your young, impressionable child about bodies and food in a certain way, it can do more harm than good!
What I mean by harm is: if a young child is told certain things about their body or they overhear an adult speaking negatively about their own body, it can lead to the child developing a challenging relationship with food and exercise.
For that reason, it's important to inspire an overall well-being mindset in your children! In this article, we'll go through what to do and want not to do when talking and interacting with your kids in the realm of fitness and health! Keep reading to learn how to cultivate a positive relationship with food and exercise in your children!
Do focus on the benefits of eating healthy and working out.
And I don't mean the benefits of losing weight or looking better!
Instead, talk to them about how eating healthier and working out can make you feel better. Talk about how good it feels to get stronger! Tell them about the benefits exercise has on your brain. Even just commenting on how great you feel after exercising is a wonderful way to make your kids view exercise more positively!
Don't focus on weight.
This means that while you shouldn't comment on your child's body weight and appearance, you also shouldn't comment on your own! Speaking negatively about your body makes your children think, "Should I feel that way about my body too?"
Even if your children are very young, don't underestimate how impressionable they are. Plus, it's better to get in the habit of avoiding negative self-talk as early as possible! If your friends start talking negatively about themselves in front of your children, politely ask them to stop!
If your children start talking badly about themselves, say, "Hey, we don't speak about ourselves that way. We need to be nice to ourselves."
Make eating healthy and exercising fun.
Focus on what your children love. Do they love strawberries and broccoli, but hate carrots and peas? Focus on feeding them the healthy food that they love. It doesn't make sense to force-feed them food they hate. If you're set on making sure they're getting certain foods in their diets, you can hide them in smoothies, pasta sauces, or salad dressings!
As for exercise, most children love sports and playing with other kids! Either get them involved in sports, or encourage them to go play outside with their friends. If you notice your kids love walks or bike rides, make sure to do that with them too! Make it about the activities they love, so it never seems like a chore for them. All movement is good movement!
Don't make exercise a chore.
That goes for not making exercise a chore for your children, but also try not to make it a chore for yourself! Avoid speaking negatively about fitness or eating healthy in front of your kids.
Let your children watch you have fun while you move! Explain why movement is important to you. Tell them about your favorite exercises, and ask them if they want to try with you!
Show your children that you love movement, and include them in your hobbies. Don't underestimate how strong and capable your young kids are. Unless it's truly a grueling activity like cross-fit, H.I.I.T., or lifting heavy weights, many kids would be happy to participate. You never know what exercises they might love!
Do provide active toys.
Rather than buying video games, spend money on active toys, such as a jump rope, balls, bikes, and other active toys! Toys truly make the experience of exercising so much better for children, so make an effort to provide them with active toys, rather than toys they have to sit down to use!
Don't overdo activity.
Although you should encourage your children to be active, it should never hurt them. As adults, we often push our bodies to our limits and pride ourselves on being sore. But for children, it should be an intuitive movement experience for them!
Let them stop when they want to stop, and remember every kid has their own limits and capabilities. Just because one of your kids can run for hours and the other needs frequent breaks doesn't mean you should compare them!
If the exercise becomes painful for your child or they are clearly needing a break, encourage them to listen to their body's signals.
Do let your children get involved in the kitchen.
Young children often want to help their parents cook, but it is more time-consuming (and it's often just plain annoying) when kids help. They make a mess, and they slow you down. But try to have patience and recognize the benefits of letting them help you in the kitchen!
Show them how to prepare foods, even if that's just helping you wash fruits and vegetables! Obviously, you want to avoid giving young kids knives. But get them involved in the cooking process in any way you can! It will not only help them feel accomplished today, but they will also be equipped with more cooking knowledge for their own future!
Don't put pressure on your children.
React positively, even when your mind screams, "Unhealthy!" For example, when your children want to enjoy a treat after dinner. Or if they aren't doing well in their club sport, but they still really enjoy it.
Don't put pressure on them to do better. Let it all be fun for them. Don't put pressure on them to be the best in their sport or eat the cleanest. That can put more stress on their little brains, and the words you say could stick with them for a lifetime.
Instead, by letting your children find joy in working towards well-being rather than stress, they will be more motivated to continue on!
Overall message: Keep it positive!
Be mindful of what you say. Always keep it positive, and tell them that you're proud of them! We'll never be perfect, and neither will your kids! Forcing perfection on them is a quick way to cause a problematic relationship with food and their bodies.
The power of positivity is unmatched, so tap into it to help your children cultivate a healthy well-being mindset!