Ah, our children. We nurture them, we raise them, we keep them safe, and we want them to follow in our footsteps – well, most of the time that is. Many parents who have a bad habit often say that they hope their child doesn’t pick it up themselves for fear of damaging their health. But the truth is, the only way to stop a child from picking up your bad habit is to stop the habit in the first place. Even if your child knows that what you are doing is bad for you (and them) they won’t understand the gravity of the habit as long as they still watch you do it regularly. Of course, on some occasions, children and teenagers will pick up bad habits regardless of whether their parents did it or not. But parenting is all about leading by example, and telling a child they cannot do something that you are about to do yourself will only leave them confused. Here are some ways you can set a good example to your kids by encouraging them into healthy habits.
Cooking from scratch
It’s no secret that it is incredibly difficult to work a full-time job, run a household AND provide home-cooked meals all at the same time. Many parents give up entirely and thus resort to takeout and packaged convenience food to make their lives easier. What they don’t understand, however, is that doing this means setting your kids up to fail. If your children get a taste for fast food while they are young, they will naturally lean towards it throughout their adult life as well. Try to cook at home around 80% of the time, if you can. Home cooking doesn’t need to be extravagant; merely functional, nutritious and tasty. You can find plenty of recipes online that are suitable for even the most novice cook.
Ditching the cigarettes
Finding out that your child has taken up smoking is every parent’s nightmare. But, if you have been chain-smoking cigarettes ever since they were born, it’s fairly likely that they will pick it up at some point too, as to them it will be the norm. Even if you don’t manage to quit straight away, educate your child about the dangers of cigarette smoke from a young age and try your best to smoke away from them. Switching to e-cigarettes is also a good idea, as this doesn’t mean going cold turkey but it is a much healthier way to get your nicotine rush. If you have a teen who already smokes, try to persuade them to make the switch too – it’s much easier to do it together.
There is a common conception that much of the younger generation are lazy and entitled, and that they just sit around all day watching TV. But if that’s true, surely we have the generation above to blame for setting them that example? Make sure you engage in exercise around your children often and try to limit the amount of time they spend in front of a screen playing games. Being overly sedentary can lead to a whole host of health problems, both mental and physical – so find fun ways to exercise as a family.