Little witnesses are great for healthy habits

IMG_7852Ever since my son has been old enough to mimic and comment on my every move, I’ve had to really pay attention to the type of behavior that I’m modeling for him.  I never wanted to be one of those people who doesn’t ‘walk the walk’ but like most humans, I’m not perfect.  Sometimes I choose a good movie over a yoga class and my sweet tooth attempts to control my every decision.  I’m OK with not being perfect but my little toddler doesn’t get explanations like ‘Mommy gets an extra cookie because she’s had a rough day.’  I am now forced to behave as if someone’s watching me all day long, because there is someone watching me all day long!

One of my wishes for my son is that he becomes an adult with a healthy relationship (and varied palette) with food and knows the importance of physical fitness.  I’m very aware that healthy lifestyle habits are developed at home and I feel that pressure.  Saying ‘do as I say, not as I do’ (as I may while teaching a rigorous yoga class while 9 months pregnant), doesn’t come out as English to a toddler.  He is all about wanting to do what Mommy does, whether that’s eating apples or chocolate.

Here are a few rules that I’ve adopted over the past year since I’ve had a little witness following me around-

  • We all eat the same things.  Throughout the day we eat together (except lunch on most days when he eats too early for my tastes and hunger).  Whatever I’m making myself is what he gets and whatever we’re eating as a family for dinner is what he gets.  If he doesn’t like what we’re having, then that’s too bad for him.  This may sound a little harsh but I believe that if he doesn’t try new things then he’ll forever be a picky (and boring) eater.
  • Yoga and outdoor play everyday.  Every morning I spend about 10 minutes doing yoga in front of him and most day’s he joins in for at least a few poses.  After that we hit the playgrounds or just run around a park for awhile.  I want him to love being active and have that be part of his daily routine (weather dependent).
  • Give the witness healthy options.  For most breakfasts and snacks, I give him a choice.  I don’t ask ‘what do you want?’, otherwise the kid would exist off of cheese and cookies.  The choice sounds more like ‘for breakfast, would you like eggs with tomatoes or yogurt with fruit?’.  This has worked wonders for me as it seems to let him feel like he has some control over the situation.
  • Eat and exercise in front of them.  How will the kid know to model good behavior if he only ever eats by himself.  Hearing Mommy says ‘Mmmm, I love carrots, don’t you?’ gets him to eat a lot more than ‘here’s your carrots.’  I know that soon enough, I won’t be cool to him anymore and he won’t want to be my little witness, so I’m taking advantage of my unsolicited cool factor by ‘walking the walk’ as best I can.
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