Gema is a 20-year old from Miami, FL. Reads like a maniac. Writes for sanity. It’s a fine line and she loves erasing it.
A healthy lifestyle is not just about eating right and working out. That’s secondary. “Healthy” is a state of mind. I believe that people need to have solid self-esteem in order to be happy and healthy. It’s simple: if you love yourself, you’ll want to take care of yourself. So if parents want to help their kids lead healthy lives, they need to make sure their kids’ self-esteem is intact.
That begins at home. Parents need to recognize that their kids are bona fide human beings. They have a soul. They have goals and fears, dreams and nightmares. They have opinions. They are not programmable flesh. They are people and are worthy of respect. This is why communication is important. This may sound simple, but it’s widely misunderstood. A conversation is when two people exchange words. One speaks and the other listens and then speaks based on what the first person said. It’s not just “talking to,” or worse, “talking down to.” The best way to help kids make healthy choices, or any choice for that matter, is to treat them with respect. Being condescending in any conversation closes the doors to future ones. If someone disrespected you all the time, would you take anything they said seriously?
In lieu of recognizing your child as a proper human being, it’s important to show respect to others. Social skills are important for leading a healthy life. Living is about interacting with the world, having interesting conversations with a diverse cast of characters. Keeping an open mind about other cultures and opinions. Pointing and laughing at those that are different from you, even from behind closed doors, is not only bad form but encourages intolerance. It sets them apart from anything different. It inspires hate and discomfort where there could be friendship.
It also teaches kids a false lesson: That there is only one kind of “right” in the world and it’s the one you say it is. That the world is black or white, right or wrong, ugly or pretty, fat or skinny. It can affect the way they view themselves: “I am not perfect, I am only flawed.” It won’t help any if you comment negatively on your child’s body, fears, or goals. Your opinion matters, even if they sometimes roll their eyes and pretend it doesn’t. Boyfriends and girlfriends can break hearts but parents can break self-esteems.
Walking to the park, volleyball at the beach, or just running around the backyard chasing each other, doing physical activities with the family is a great way to encourage kids to be healthier by being more active. It gets the entire family involved, promotes communication, relaxes, and it’s not bad for the body’s health either. Play sports with the kids and see if they have a favorite one. Enroll them in a team and cheer them on. Help them practice. Show, don’t just tell them, that reality shows and social networks are not worth throwing away the gift of being able to move. Get active.
Encouraging a healthy lifestyle in your kids can be simple if there’s communication and understanding. Respect and tolerance. They’ll understand why you want them to go to college and you’ll understand why they want to take a year off after high school and will have a higher chance of reaching a middle ground.