Punishing and rewarding kids may not be the best way to teach your kids healthy habits. Acting in a positive way and modeling healthy behaviors actually are. These are some behaviors you may do that do not help kids develop healthy lifestyle:
- Avoid over-criticizing your personal looks. This sends the message that self-esteem should be based on how your clothes fit or how much you weigh. This can lead to unhealthy habits like yo-yo dieting or increase kids’ risk of dangerous eating disorders.
- Do not use food to feel better when you're sad or disappointed. This way, you could be passing on unhealthy messages to your kids. Instead, let them see you talking to friends or going for a walk to feel better.
- Set family rules about electronics. It's not fair to tell the kids not to text at the dinner table if you're there on your phone. Everyone, including parents, needs to stick to these rules.
- Be careful about making dress-up parties for little girls more important than other quality time. Use "girl time" to make healthy habits attractive, like going for walks, or teaching her a sport. Also, compliment her using words as “smart” or “kind” as often as you compliment her beauty.
- Resist the urge to make everything a competition against other kids. Always being in comparison with neighbors, classmates, or siblings is rarely a good motivator. Instead, praise your kid for doing his best. Help him focus on the fun of being outside or competing against himself and noticing improvements.
- Do not constantly snipe at each other with your spouse. You make your kids learn that it's OK to act that way. Arguing may make you feel better at first but worse later. And above, stress from arguments has a negative effect on kids.
- Stop gossiping in front of the kids. Criticizing the way someone looks or acts can be a sign of poor self-esteem.
- Do not ignore your negative behavior. Hoping your children didn't notice is not a way out. Spotlight your mistake. Get the kids involved by asking them to help you stop.
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