Having recently read an article called “The Top Five Nutrition Tips,” I thought it would be a helpful idea to juxtapose healthy eating information from that article with what I will call “The Top Five Parenting Tips.” Here is the result:
1. Eat five servings a day of fruits and vegetables. You read this all the time. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins that can boost your immune system. Eat five servings a day; it may sometimes be hard to do. But if you consider that a glass of orange juice counts as a serving, it does not sound so hard to swallow!
“Catch” your children doing something good five times a day. Sometimes you feel one of the most important parts of your job as a parent is to tell your children what they are doing wrong and how they can do things better. Let’s rewrite that part of your job description. While you need to teach your children what the rules are, you also need to work on “catching” them doing things that you appreciate. Your positive words can help immunize your children against things in their day that might be difficult to deal with.
2. Eat more fiber. Fiber can ward off cardiovascular and gastrointestinal disease and even some types of cancer . Additionally, increasing the amount offiber in your diet is an important part of a weight-loss strategy since high-fiber foods add bulk and thus tend to be more filling.
Listen more. Work at listening to your children. Notice how many times you interrupt your children as they are telling you something because you feel the overwhelming urge to judge what they are telling you? While your judgment of what your children are telling you gives you a chance to teach them right from wrong (building up their moral fiber, so to speak), try to listen first. Bulk up your child with the helpful suggestions later when he may be more ready to listen to you.
3. Learn to manage your weight by considering your unique metabolism. Being overweight can increase your risk for developing several diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Among the countless weight-loss strategies being touted, which is best for you? Use common sense and use what works for your body. The same program does not work for everyone.
Learn about child development and unique temperaments. Not knowing what is normal behavior for each age and developmental phase can set the stage for anger, anxiety, and unrealistic expectations, causing frustration for parents and children. It is very important to understand that nature has set up time clocks for your children and that at certain times of their lives, the alarm goes off and they seem to change overnight. It’s part of growing up.
Any parent with more than one child can tell you how different each child can be. Realize each child’s special and unique characteristics. Don’t compare your children to one another, and – as with your weight-loss program – do what works best for each child.
By the way, each family is unique, too. Don’t base any parenting you do on what is right for other people. It is fine to consider suggestions, opinions, and expert advice, but tailor it all to fit your family. After all, the same weight-loss program does not work for everyone.
4. Know your nutrients. Do you know which nutrients you should be getting? Should you take supplements? If you are aware of what the latest research shows, you can decide what foods are best for you.
Know your children’s friends and what your children are doing at their friends’ houses. Although I’d like to say this is a no-brainer, I know that’s not true. Sometimes you may assume that your children have chosen the proper friends because everything seems to be going okay. Take an active interest in your kids and spend time with them and their buddies, starting when they are little ones playing in the sandbox. Pay attention to who your children’s friends are; invite them over, give them snacks, treat them with respect. When your child is invited to their houses, call their parents just to chat and let the other parent know you are on top of things.
5. Do it for life. Eating healthfully is not about being on a diet. It is a life-long habit of nourishing your body in a reasonable and realistic way.
Do it for life. Being a parent is a job that will last a lifetime. Work and time for yourself are important, but you need to find a way to balance your own needs with the need to nurture a healthy relationship with your children. When you consciously work at building a sense of trust and respect and a connection to your children, you are nourishing a relationship that will bring you a lifetime of rewards.
If you don’t know where to start to implement a heatlhier life style, you can see what the experts recommend, pick up a book, find a good website, or call a friend you trust and ask them to help you. If you don’t know where to start to become a better parent, you can also look for advice, support, and information from sources you trust – see what parenting experts are saying, read a parenting book, consult your pediatrician, look online for reputable websites, or turn to a trusted friend who will listen to your concerns. You can take a parenting class or reach out to others who may be grappling with the same issue. Keeping your body healthy takes vigilance and some hard work. Keeping your family healthy also can require hard work and effort. Just as good nutrition does, the healthy habits and skills you develop as a parent can nurture your family in important and long-lasting ways.By Claire Gawinowicz, Certified Parenting Educator
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