Be Your Child's Role Model

Be Your Child's Role Model

Every child has a hero. Maybe it's an entertainer, an athlete or even a favorite teacher. But why can't it be you?

By Melissa Tennen, Contributing Writer, myOptumHealth

You teach your children the difference between right and wrong. You tell them to look both ways before crossing the street, to say thank you, to do as their teachers say.

Your children also learn from you in ways you may not have realized - your eating habits, your attitude about exercise and your attention to your own health. You are the most important force in your children's lives. You are a role model.

If you say that you don't like vegetables, you are teaching your children that vegetables are not important. If you look in the mirror and say you look fat, your children may start wondering if they have a weight problem. If you are in the habit of having one-too-many glasses of wine, your kids may think that excessive drinking is OK.

Studies show that children's eating and exercise habits are often directly influenced by what their parents do. One study showed that children were more likely to eat fruits and vegetables if their mothers did.

Be a positive influence on your children

  • Start showing healthy behaviors when your children are babies. If you do this while they're learning about their environment, they can develop skills that will last throughout their lives.
  • Manage your health. See your doctor to get regular check-ups, and take your medications as prescribed.
  • Eat together as a family. Studies show kids are more likely to eat right when families sit down together at meals.
  • Exercise. When you create your own exercise routine, also plan activities for you and the kids to do together. This helps send the right message. Exercise helps you ward off potentially chronic diseases that could keep you from being with your children. Engage your kids in family activities like bike-riding, hiking or a game of basketball. Get in the routine of taking after-dinner walks together.
  • Don't smoke. Drink in moderation. Studies show that when parents drink or smoke, teens are twice as likely to drink and three times more likely to smoke and use marijuana.
  • Buckle up. If you always wear your seatbelt, even when riding in the backseat, your children will, too. Car accidents are the leading cause of death in children.
  • Talk to your children about healthy habits and their benefits. This includes good self-esteem, strengthening of their bones and muscles and helping them stay at a healthy weight.
  • Have a positive attitude about exercising and being healthy. Do something you enjoy so that your kids will see exercise as fun.
  • Treat others - including your children - with respect. Your child will learn how to treat peers, teachers and other adults. They are also more likely to return the favor and treat you respectfully.
  • Show your kids that disputes can be resolved through calm discussion instead of threats or violence.
  • Talk about your feelings and make a habit of expressing your love for your child.

Sources:

  • National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. National survey of American attitudes on substance abuse XIV: teens and parents. Accessed: 05/09/2012
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Health and safety e-news for caregivers and teachers. Accessed: 05/09/2012
  • Sylvestre MP, O'Loughlin J, Gray-Donald K, Hanley J, Paradis G. Association between fruit and vegetable consumption in mothers and children in low-income, urban neighborhoods. Health Education Behavior. 2007;34(5):723-734. Accessed: 05/09/2012
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. Parents: Be role models for your children. Accessed: 05/09/2012

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