One of my top ten tips for parenting includes the reminder that the idea ‘do what I say, not what I do’ never works. I encourage parents to consider the characteristics, habits, and values they want their child to have as an adult and to allow that to help them shape their parenting. Once we pass a certain age, most of us realize that we are becoming more and more like our parents (for better or for worse). Do you want your children to be like you when they are your age? What else do you want for your children?
Whether your children are old enough to start joining you in your fitness routine or you even have children yet, now is the perfect time to start developing the habits in yourself that you want your children to adopt. Your child is unlikely to want to join you in activities that you do not enjoy. Your child, who sees you as a role model, is more likely to do the things you do. I rode in bike races as a child because that was what my father did.
I have a dear friend whose oldest son just finished second grade and has already completed more running events than I have. Connor has grown up watching his parents run for health and fitness, his father runs races, and his grandmother run marathons, ultramarathons, and triathalons!
His parents have not pushed him into running, and he runs in 5k races only at his own request. At the age of 7 he ran a 5k in 24 minutes! He was also recently awarded the Presidential Award for Physical Fitness. Way to go, Connor! He has discovered the joy in running because it was shown to him. His parents never insisted that he share their activities, yet he has developed a love for running simply by observing what the important adults in his life are doing. He is blessed to have had the opportunity to develop healthy habits so early.