Children are influenced by the world around them, but as a parent, your actions and attitudes have the strongest influence, particularly as, more often than not, you spend most of your time together. Therefore, it’s important to set an example as they continue to grow and become more independent, encouraging them to get involved in extra-curricular activities and hobbies instead of letting them navigate straight to an electronic screen.
So, how can we encourage our kids to be the best they can be?
What can you do set a good example to your kids?
Parents set the tone for nearly every part of their child’s life. Healthy habits are passed along from parent-to-child, so it’s the responsibility of the adult to initiate an active lifestyle to make exercise fun and part of day-to-day life.
It doesn’t have to be a chore; taking part in physical activity by getting the whole family out and about is an easy way to help build a healthy lifestyle. It’s even more important today, as the number of children being classed as ‘obese’ in year 6 has reached record levels, according to Gov.uk.
Here are 5 simple ways you can encourage your children to get active:
- Help them to find a fun hobby for them to take part in regularly (such as dance or football, for example)
- Go on regular family walks, whether this be the school run or a stroll around a park
- Set time aside for exercise at least once a week, such as creating a weekly sports night – let the kids decide what to do (e.g. go to the swimming pool, play football in the park, tennis at your local sports centre etc.)
- Make exercise a priority to kids, so turn off the TV and confiscate all electronics
- Encourage them to take part in extra-curricular activities after school
Today, it is so simple to access anything at the click of a button at any time of day, so it is easy to get sucked into a trap of using it too often. Think about how you are using your electronic gadgets in front of your children. If you want your children to stay off their devices or are constantly moaning for them to get off their iPad or Xbox, it is crucial to set an example to your children yourself.
As many parents know all too well, arguments over screen time are a common occurrence. To avoid this daily rhetoric, consider showing your children ways they can keep themselves occupied, rather than opting for the electronics every time they are bored. This could be through spending quality family time together, such as heading to the park, playing games, or even get them involved with cooking dinner or baking.
In addition, you could introduce a “no-tech” rule that applies to the whole family. Hold a family meeting and set some simple ground rules about the use of gadgets in the house. For example, they can only be used once they have completed homework or read some of their reading book, to show them that electronic use is a reward. It is worth introducing no digital use at the at the dining table too, if you don’t already – this should be an opportunity to bond together and catch up about the day without the disruption of social media and games.
Refraining from alcohol
Abstaining from drinking alcohol in front of your children shows them that having a glass of wine or beer isn’t essential to have fun and enjoy yourself and highlights a healthy relationship with alcohol. However, it is perfectly acceptable to drink in front of your kids, but the key, just like electronic use, is moderation.
A report has found that half of parents surveyed have been ‘tipsy’ in front of their children, and this behaviour has been said to trigger family rows or make children anxious, which in turn means they are “less likely to see them as a positive role model”. Therefore, cutting down on alcohol will benefit your children significantly as you can build a healthy bond between you, which helps to ensure you are spending lots of quality time with them too.
Despite the many advertisements explaining just how bad smoking is for your health, it won’t stop tobacco companies from benefitting from one of the best adverts of them all: children seeing their parents smoking. Unfortunately, there is evidence to show that children who live with parents or siblings who smoke are up to 3 times more likely to become smokers themselves than children of non-smoking households, even when their parents don’t smoke in the house or hide from their kids.
Any smokers will know that quitting the habit is incredibly difficult and can take an awful lot of time and willpower. However, if you’re worried about being able to kick the habit it’s worth making a visit to your local vaping shop and consider making the change to e-cigarettes. Vaping is said to be considerably less harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes as it doesn’t contain or burn tobacco, and instead the flavourings deliver the nicotine vapour to the user. This means it is healthier for yourself, as well as your children too. Therefore, it is unsurprising that recent research has found that there are now more ex-smokers who use e-cigarettes (1.7 million) than current smokers (1.4 million). This could be the first step to giving up smoking completely.
How do you make sure you set a good example to your kids?