As parents, our job is to protect our children and raise them to be self-sufficient, caring adults. Whether we realize it or not, we teach them every day by the examples of what we do and say.
It's important that your children feel they can talk to you about anything. They should know that you will not judge them and that you will still love them regardless of what they share. Let your child know that most boys and girls have feelings of anger, embarrassment, sadness, shame or other emotions that are not as common. It can help to discuss what they are feeling, especially when they are not even sure what that is.
Regular family meals where everyone sits down together are more of a rarity these days, but you can set a good example by preparing nutritional meals and snacks. Let your children help pick out items when you shop for groceries, and quiz them on the benefits of certain foods, making it a game. Kids who fail to learn healthy eating habits early on can face health consequences later in their lives. So, it is important to start early, ingraining the positive aspects of food and downplaying junk food diets that can be so easy in our hectic lives.
Incorporating physical activity into your everyday routine is another lesson you can teach your children by example. Go for walks, hike and swim. Let your kids have a say in what sports they participate in. If they have a choice in what they do, they'll be far more likely to stick with it.
Teach your children early that kindness is something we all deserve. When they display kindness, they will experience what it's like to affect another person's life in a positive way. Show your children the importance of helping each other. Be a volunteer and bring your child with you. Your local food bank might be a good place to start. You can help your kids round up and donate toys and clothes they no longer use. If your children see that you genuinely care about other people, they will learn that life is better when you give something of yourself.
It can be tough having a kid depend on you, but when you see this little human being turning out pretty darn good and you know you had something to do with that, it can also be the most rewarding part of your life.
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