As parents, there are so many things to keep track of when it comes to raising your children and looking out for their wellbeing. It seems like as soon as you have a handle on one aspect of parenting, you realize there is another area that you are slacking in. It’s a lot to keep track of! You want your children to grow up to be well rounded and healthy individuals, so how do you do that?
LET YOUR CHILDREN DO CHORES
Children benefit from helping out with household chores. It teaches them responsibility, as well as prepares them to take care of themselves when they are living on their own as adults. If they never have to sweep the floor, wash a dish, or make breakfast, they will be absolutely clueless when they have to do these things on their own. A lot of parents want to provide a great life for their child, so they take care of these chores on their own so their child can thrive in the other things that they’re doing, but in actuality, this is doing your children a disservice. As soon as they’re able, have them help out with simple chores. This is often a lot earlier than you realize! Teach them to put their trash in the waste bin, put their dirty clothes in the hamper, and make their beds in the morning from as young as 1.
ENTRUST THEM WITH THEIR OWN HYGIENE
You’re responsible for your child being clean and presentable whenever you leave, but it’s easy to lean into that a little too much and never let your young child have a chance to learn how to take care of their bodies. When they show an interest, let them wash themselves in the bath, brush their own teeth, and style their own hair. This isn’t an excuse for them to become grimy, but a chance for them to learn appropriate ways to take care of themselves. It’s okay for you to check their teeth when they’re done to make sure they got it all, aid them with their hair, and check behind their ears in the bath. This also teaches them that there is a standard of cleanliness that they should be meeting.
KEEP AN OPEN DIALOGUE
There are too many difficult conversations that, as a parent, you are expected to have with your children. Knowing the right time to have these conversations is difficult. One of the easiest ways to navigate these conversations, is to try to keep an open dialogue about the difficult things. Answer questions as you receive them, in an age-appropriate way. If they ask about sex, answer their questions. If they have questions about alcohol or other substances, answer them. There doesn’t have to be taboo topics, just topics. As long as you respond in age-appropriate ways, your child will learn and won’t be afraid to come to you when something uncomfortable happens. Be open about mental health and mental disorders, so they don’t feel uncomfortable discussing topics such as anxiety or ADHD. Shame is not the way to raise your children.
MODEL HEALTHY HABITS
Children soak up everything around them like a sponge. You won’t even realize how many times you say “sorry” in a day, until your two year old starts apologizing to everyone for everything. It’s like looking in a mirror, in the worst possible way. Everything you say and do is observed in a hypercritical way by your children. Which is why it’s so important to model healthy habits for your children. Don’t talk negatively about your body, or anyone else’s. If you would be disappointed to hear something come out of your child’s mouth, then don’t say it yourself. Exercise regularly, so they know the value of taking care of their bodies. Eat vegetables, read a good book, go on date nights, and give yourself a chance to relax.
The way you live your life will act as a guide for your child as they grow older, so living a life you would want for them is the best way to guarantee they’ll be happy and well-rounded adults.