Are you a good role model for your child?
There are many ways in which we influence our children.
The type of lifestyle we choose will have a major influence on our children. Over the past few decades, adults have been adopting a more sedentary lifestyle which is having a major influence on children, with far reaching consequences.
At a family level, there is much we can do to encourage our children to adopt a healthy, active, lifestyle, the most important of which is to lead by example. If you find yourself encouraging your child to be more active and watch less TV, yet at the same time you continue to lead a very sedentary lifestyle, this gives a very mixed message to your child.
Being active and involving our children in our lifestyle will give them great experiences that will stay with them for life. It also gives us many opportunities to spend precious family time together.
One of the first lessons children learn from their parents is whether it is possible to trust other people. This is a basic necessity when making and maintaining good relationships with siblings, friends, and partners.
The lessons learned in these early years are ones we take with us. In general, if our parents were able to show us love and understanding and maintain a close, intimate, relationship with us, we will be able to do likewise in our adult life.
It is impossible to live in close quarters with others without sometimes having misunderstandings and fights, and we serve as our child’s first teachers in how to deal with these difficult and challenging situations. If parents always shout and get angry, that is likely to be the reaction that a child will adopt.
If, on the other hand, a child sees his parents acknowledge that they are angry and strive to find a way to resolve the conflict through negotiation and discussion, then that is the lesson he learns.
Treatment of others
We first learn how to view and treat others from our parents. How do you treat shop assistants? What do you do when someone approaches you in the street for money? How do you treat someone who has an obvious disability?
Your children will often be with you in these situations and, while you may not be aware of it, they observe your reactions and listen to what you say to and about others.
Food and body image
One of society’s current obsessions is with self-image and weight. While children receive messages on this from many angles and sources, the first lessons they learn about body image, weight, and food are from you. The little girl who constantly sees her mum unhappy about her weight and body, and constantly on a diet, may grow up being very sensitive about these issues.
Having parents who are happy with how they look, are comfortable in their bodies, and who have a sensible and healthy relationship with food, lays the foundations for such attitudes in children.
Again, the first place children learn about relationships and how to get on with others is at home. Parents who encourage their children to interact with and talk to their friends give their children the opportunity to develop their interpersonal skills.
Attitudes and values
Children learn their broad attitudes and values by watching how their parents behave with and talk about others. Negative values such as racism, for example, are generally learned at a very young age.
How to manage emotions
We all experience a range of emotions, and it can be particularly difficult to deal with strong negative emotions such as grief, anger, embarrassment, or shame. It is in the home that the first and most powerful lessons about emotions are learned.
Emotions are part of the rich tapestry of life, and we know that suppressing them can lead to more problems in the long run. As a parent, if you encourage your children to talk about their feelings, it means they can find ways to manage them — and not be afraid of them.
For more information visit www.RollerCoaster.ie, Ireland’s no 1 website for parents.