Simple tips for how to be a good example to kids (and teach them healthy life habits)

If you’re keen to learn how to be a good example to kids, but not sure where to start, you can relax knowing you are not alone. Most parents experience doubts and worries in this area, questioning their approach.

The vast majority of parents have the best intentions and want to be a good example to their kids, but as life gets busy and presents challenges, it can seem hard to stick to our original commitment.

We’ve all heard the expression, ‘Do as I say, not as I do’. And just about any parent will tell you, this doesn’t cut it with kids. They learn by following our example, including when it comes to learning health life habits, like learning to slow down – especially when dealing with an emotional situation.

We are more aware than ever about the benefits of slowing down; however, at the same time, we live in a society that is fast-paced and 24/7. Learning to slow down is something we can all benefit from and is a vital life skill for children too. The earlier they can gain experience and ‘muscle’ in this technique, the better.

Contrary to what you may think, being a good example to kids and teaching them healthy life habits doesn’t need to be complex. In fact, it can be simple. Just remember that simple doesn’t always mean easy. It will take practice, awareness, and diligence. The good news is, the rewards will most definitely be there for you, your child, and family.

So, for the three tips for how to be a good example to kids, read on.

Tip #1 – Slow everything down

Many parents and carers feel pressured to enroll their children in multiple activities before and after school and on weekends, an approach that can very quickly leave everyone in the family depleted, short-tempered, and prone to poor eating and sleeping habits.

Just because life would have us ‘on’ all the time, it doesn’t mean we should be. One of the very best healthy life habits is to review the family’s and person’s commitments and identify what can be deleted; or, at the very least, put on hold for a period of time. This creates space in everyone’s schedules, and in that space it’s possible to take time out, be creative, and yes, even simply rest and do nothing (without distractions like technology).

Tip #2 – Rest when tired

Society has conditioned us to keep going even when we’re tired. From experience of dealing with four kids and all manner of addictions, including food addictions, I can tell you that this approach really doesn’t work!

What does work is resting when tired. Even a short ten-minute lie-down with eyes closed can help to recharge and refresh. When your children observe this behaviour in you, they will learn it’s okay for them to rest, too. In doing so, they gain awareness of their own body, how they are feeling, and making wise decisions about what they need to do to look after themselves.

Tip #3 – Take a long-term view

New habits are not formed overnight, so remember to be patient, gentle, and kind to yourself (your children are watching, after all). Avoid going down the guilt highway if you slip up once, twice, or more. With the right support, you can stay the course and keep moving in the general direction of forming new healthy habits for the family.

It is never too late to learn how to be a good example to kids. Teaching them skills like slowing down and resting when tired means they are equipped to manage themselves in situations that arise, in the playground, in the classroom, and in life generally.