Tell. Show. Involve.

Posted: February 27, 2012 in Goals, Healthy Living

In their publication, The Parenting Journey, H. Wallace Goddard and Steven A. Dennis say, “When we take good care of ourselves, we can be better parents and set a good example for our children.  We should try our best to eat well, get plenty of rest, and exercise regularly.  We should also make time in our lives to do the things we love to do.”  I would also challenge that anyone reading this that is not a parent should live by those words as well.  You never know when you might be the catalyst for change in someone else’s life such as a spouse, family member, or friend, but first and foremost – do it for yourself. 

There is an old Chinese proverb that states, “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”  So when it comes to our children (even grandchildren and so forth) where do you fall on the continuum of tell, show, involve?  Many times we tell children to eat certain things, or do certain things, but never model that behavior for them to see.  It becomes a “do as I say, not as I do” parenting style. 

We all want our children to thrive in this world and be happy and healthy, but we may not always show them what a healthy lifestyle looks like with our own actions.  So don’t just tell them what to do – show them – model it for them by your own behaviors.  But I say, just like the proverb, to take it step further and involve them in things.  Let them help with preparing a healthy snack/meal and even help to pack their own lunch.  Purchase a cookbook just for kids and let them pick out some recipes that you can do together.  Go for walks, hikes, bike rides, etc., together on the weekends.

Start by identifying 1 or 2 things that you will do to begin creating a healthier life for both you and your child.  This might be exercising more, limiting/eliminating processed foods, or going to bed on time.  Remember to tell them why it is important to make these changes so they begin to understand the significance that these changes can have both in the present and in the future.  Show them by modeling the behavior in your own life and involve them in the process.  Take soda for instance – tell them why it is not ideal to drink it.  Show them by not doing it yourself and then involve them in making a healthier choice. 

Try not to change too much at one time as it will be overwhelming for both you and your child which could easily result in giving up.  Work on those 1 or 2 things you have identified and when you are successful at those changes, be sure to celebrate and acknowledge those accomplishments with your child and then pick another one to work on. 

Good luck!

 I would love for you to share your stories!

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