As a parent, I have often thought that what I say to my children goes in one ear and right out the other, not stopping to register in the brain as it quickly passes through. I can tell my kids, in an increasingly louder voice, to clean their room until I have escalated into some crazy screaming person. When I have reached the point of maniacal mom, they turn innocent faces to me and say “We didn’t hear you, Mom.”
I have always heard that children learn more by watching than by hearing, but I had always secretly suspected that that statement was merely an urban legend generated by parents whose children never listened to them. Still, I held onto the statement like a lifeline, hoping that by some miracle it was true.
Then, it happened! I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears, two of my children talk and act like miniature versions of myself. The two in question were preparing themselves a snack while I was nursing the baby. They pulled out a box of cereal and the skim milk, but instead of just filling the bowl the younger one brought out a measuring cup and had his older brother measure the cereal so they would eat the correct portion size.
As they sat down to eat, the older one began to critically analyze the nutrition panel on the side of the box, verbally making his assessment of the nutritional values. “Calories, 200. Only 1 gram of fat, that’s good. No cholesterol. Hmmm, kind of high in sodium, 290 mg. Good potassium. Wow! 7 grams of fiber, that’s really good. Only 5 grams of sugar, that’s not too bad. Six grams of protein, that’s good for cereal.” As he made his assessment his younger brother munched on the cereal, nodding his head in agreement.
I couldn’t believe it! It wasn’t an urban legend, my kids had learned from watching me. My actions and choices were observed, noted and mimicked. Forget the old “Do as I say, not as I do.” adage, and teach your kids to “Do as I do.” Don’t tell them to go outside and play when they never see you move away from the computer. Don’t tell them not to drink soda when that is all they see you drink. Don’t tell them to eat their veggies when you have a (not so) secret stash of chocolate in your underwear drawer.
Be the example for your kids! Get up and do something active. Have a glass of water. Get rid of the chocolate stash. Drive past the drive thru.Try a healthy new recipe. Buy some fruits and veggies to snack on. Join a gym. Watch what you eat. Let your kids see you make healthy choices and they will soon be making them, too.
By making healthy food choices, exercising and being active, and living a healthy lifestyle I have set a healthy example for my kids that has already made an impact on them. The foundation for making healthy choices has been laid without my having to say a word.
Now, if I can just get them to clean their room..