Raising Healthy Happy ChildrenJan 23, 2012
Winston Churchill once said that "Sometimes doing our best isn't good enough, we have to do what is required." Have you ever faced a challenge that took everything you had and then some? Raising children to be healthy,happy and a joy to be around is just such a challenge in this day and age. There are a lot of voices competing for their hearts and attention and parents must be vigilant to pass on to their children those ideas and values they cherish the most.
Anything can be lost in one generation if parents fail to pass it on. Studies show that not only are behaviors like lying and cheating increasing but they are also increasingly seen as acceptable. Children take in hours of media a day and some of the messages run counter to the values of their parents. Fortunately, parents are in a unique position to counter the culture and to instill great ideas and values in their children. The solution is consistent time intentionally devoted to this task.
In a by gone era much of this training came from conversations around the dinner table. If that is still happening at your house consider yourself wise and fortunate indeed. Many families,however,are not sitting down regularly for a meal due to hectic,busy schedules and lives. There is a need for a new activity that parents and children can count on that does not require all the time involved in shopping,preparing,eating, and cleaning up. Naturally, if you are able to do both then you have twice the effectiveness.
The activity I advocate in my book Exercising Values: Family Fitness with a Character Emphasis is a fifteen minute daily time set aside for exercise and character training. This family time will be the best spent time of your day. You will get fit and lose weight while instilling great values in your children and teaching them to be fit and healthy,too.
Strong family social interaction has been shown to increase a child's health, happiness, and even intelligence. The research shows that it has a positive impact on parents' health, productivity and longevity. It is a complete win-win and only requires a brief daily commitment of about fifteen minutes. It is advisable to spend extra time on the weekend when you have more flexibility.
As I have spoken to groups about these ideas there are always people in the audience who will begin to recall times they spent exercising with their parents and they always confirm that those are very special memories to them. Emotional eating often involves unhealthy food choices. Imagine the benefit of your child feeling better emotionally as an adult when they exercise because you made that connection for them while they were young and impressionable
There is a synergy that happens when you teach character and fitness during a fun,family activity. The whole exceeds the benefits of the parts because one reinforces the other. It is impossible to teach character without reflecting on your own attitudes and actions.
Talking to your children about any important topic can feel like a drop in the ocean and it's easy to wonder if it will make any difference. When drops of water strike a rock over and over they will eventually split it in two. There is great power in consistent action. Fifteen minutes a day is a drop. Done consistently over time it will shape your child into a well-behaved, healthy, happy person.
On busy days when you feel like you don't have a minute to yourself it won't be enough to do your best. You will need to do what you have committed to do. You will need to do what is required. Decide now to make this investment in your family. The book Exercising values is a done for you program so you don't have to spend time preparing. Your time is better spent interacting with those you love. Enjoy!
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