(cross posted at Blogher.com)
Have you ever heard a toddler, your toddler, repeating a word you clearly should not have said during a moment of frustration? Well, I have. More times than I care to remember, I have wiggled my way out of a potential "bad" word in front of my kids. I admit that dropping an object on my toe has caused me to say the "S" word outloud only to find out that my little man was not far behind all too ready to repeat that word clearly as if he had been saying it all along. So sometimes Sh*t becomes shhugar and of course he doesn't bother with that one. How do they know? It's amazing.
Aside from the occasional slip of the tounge, I mostly try to talk to my kids about the benefits of good nutrition, about reading the food labels and what those things mean, about wellness, fitness, sleeping, hygene and being happy. These are the times when I want them to really listen to me and remember what I said. I think most parents would agree that these little details are learned at home right along with the morals and values that will make them super fantastic human beings.
I sometimes wonder if they hear what I say, if they care, if they even remember it later. Sometimes I get a nod or an "I know mom" and sometimes I get a little undivided attention (such a thrill when that happens). Still I don't know how much of what I say sticks and becomes the source for making decisions later.
Three things happened today which made me proud to have talked to the back of my kids' head because today they made me proud.
1. My son has had acne, on and off or more on than off he would say, for several years now. As a teen I remember being told to wash regularly, change my pillow case frequently, don't use the same face cloth twice and treat my condition with whatever stuff was given to me at the time. It took me a while to realize or admit my parents were right. So I passed along the same routine to my son and it took him a while as well but still I persisted and reminded him to follow the routine. He finally found a product that works well with his schedule, his habits and his skin. He said to me the other day when I complimented his skin that he followed my advise and was staying on top of his treatment. It's obviously working. His face looks awesome. He was listening :-)
2. My 15 y.o. girl talks about her "weight issue" which is really non-existent and what can she do for this, to tighten that or to shrink this, etc. As a trainer I am inclined to break it down like I would a client but I have to remember that I have to live with this one and keeping the peace is pretty important. She's a lot like me which means if I tell her what to do she'll likely do the opposite. So I leave my little nutrtion articles laying around, I tell myself (really, I talk to myself) some new tips and nutrition facts I learned along the way. When I do have her attention I give her little bits of information about portion control, exercise, what works best for the amount of time she is willing to dedicate to exercise etc. Today, she was reading a magazine article which discussed the benefits of eating raw foods 70% of the time. She was excited about this and asked if we could eat more raw foods. Hmmm, funny, I've always had loads of raw foods available for my family. Where has she been all these years? Anyway, I said, sure. We'll go grocery shopping for MORE fruits and vegetables and some healthier snacks. She'll never admit it but ... She was listening :-)
3. Finally my 7 y.o. girl. She's becoming such a great reader. Today we were walking around a store and she wanted a snack. So I said go ahead, grab something you like. She picks up a bag of chips and as we continued to walk she begins to read the food label out loud. "Total Fat = 17 grams...mom this is kind of high, don't you think?" Oh, such a proud moment. So I said, well what do you think? She agreed. She continued to read the label, now as she ate the chips. She read all the way down to the vitamins and then she said, "wow, there aren't very many vitamins in this bag of chips huh?" Nope, not many at all. Her response, "well I guess I'll have to jump on the WiiFit when we get home so I can work this off doing the hula hoop." She was listening :-)
Kids listen. They learn even when we think they're not hearing us. They hear us even when they roll their eyes. As frustrating as it might be at the time, talk to your kids about the benefits of self care, nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc. Because all these GOOD habits can only lead to living a healthier lifestyle by making smart choices. And when they do decide to speak... shhhhh, just LISTEN :-)