What parent could ask for more than a healthy, glowing, joyful child?
It is especially beautiful when our children carry those qualities
into and throughout their whole adult life.
Deep inside every parent wants that – to set their child up with the great habits that last a lifetime.
Yet with the pressures of modern life it is so easy to get side-tracked . . . to find that your best intentions to have regular bed time brushing and a healthy diet have either been waylaid, or turned into a nightly exhausting battle.
Knowing the reality of modern life, here are some helpful pointers for supporting children to develop healthy habits:
Take care of your health as you would like them to take care of theirs. Children observe what we do more than they listen to what we say. When you become the role model, your health will improve and your dental bills will reduce. Also and very crucially, kids have less leverage to use against you when your actions and words are aligned. This is a huge win-win.
Always keep the end game in mind. We only get to the end point we want by taking every step in the correct direction. If you do not have any end point in mind distractions and deviations are not only possible, they are inevitable. Committing to the end game of sustainable health helps us avoid falling into the trap of saying ‘OK only one’ or ‘just for today’ every single day.
Do not waste energy feeling guilty or bad if deviations do occur. They will occur because life is intense these days. Rather than beating up on yourself, go back to point one and consider how well you are looking after yourself.
As a parent you are the CEO, the captain of the ship, the boss, the benign dictator . . . whatever suits your style! Children are very mature in their communication these days and far more likely to ‘talk back’ or present a barrage of exhausting arguments about why they are right and you are wrong. You do not need to engage, you do not need to reason. You do have the final word.
Don’t have junk food in the house. What more needs to be said.
Do what you can to get the other parent, grandparents and close friends are on the same page. The greatest damage comes from the lenient relatives who tell you you are being too tough, loosen up a bit and the real kicker, ‘everything is fine in moderation’. Conflicting and contradictory information gives children the perfect excuse not to take care of themselves. And note well that all human beings side with the person who indulges them the most and disciplines them the least.
It is never too late. Sure, children get stroppier and more argumentative as they get older, but good dental and overall health is worth every step you take to achieve it, at any time. Never give up.
In the end, it is up to your child to take their health care to heart. Never forget this. You can role model and guide, but the day will always come when the responsibility is completely theirs.
Talk to your dentist. Get them on board because professional advice carries a lot of weight.
I would love to hear your experiences, issues and tips in the comments section below.