How to Raise Confident, Healthy, Happy Children
Do you want to have happy children? For your child to live a life filled with joy, meaning, health and purpose? Who doesn’t want that for their kids?! What about for yourself? Here is the twist about parenting – in order for our children to live a life full of joy, meaning, health and purpose, we have to demonstrate it by living our own life full of joy, meaning, health and purpose! Let me explain.
Are you living your authentic truth? Or do you feel like you aren’t living your full potential? Becoming conscious of what brings you joy, meaning, health and purpose will give your child permission to do the same. One of the most fundamental teachings I’ve received as a mom and Child Therapist is that our children will do what we do, not necessarily what we say to do. This was a very hard lesson to learn as this meant I had to change, not my child. To this day, it’s still a practice!
It was while on maternity leave that I began to question my life. One day in particular while being present with my son while breastfeeding, I remember thinking to myself “I am going to tell my son that he can be and do anything he wants to in this life” because I truly believe that anyone can. It hit me, however, in that moment of beauty and truth that I wasn’t being and doing what I was created for. I was living the way I was taught, which was go to school, get a good job, have a family, work more, retire and then die. This wasn’t bringing me much joy, health meaning and purpose. If fact, it was doing opposite and I knew I did NOT want my son to live this way.
Parenting consciously is about knowing yourself. Knowing what you want out of life. What are your triggers? Your loves? How do you want to live your life? What are your values? How do you want to grow? Becoming conscious of these answers will help you walk in the direction of how you live and as a result, your child will follow suite. When we are clear of our answers, a life of joy, meaning, health, and purpose will emerge.
As I mentioned earlier, children are more likely to do what we do, rather than what we say to do. This is how they learn about the world. This is how we learn about the world. If for example, you want your child to eat more greens, we should be eating greens. If you want your child to exercise more and have less screen time, we must be willing to do the same. This is difficult to do sometimes as it requires us to change our own habits. This is where parenting is a true gift; we tell them to do these things for their own health, wellness and happiness and if we begin to walk our own talk and do it ourselves, then our health, wellness, and happiness improves as well!
Everyday there are opportunities to practice this idea of walking our talk toward a more conscious way of parenting and living our authentic truth. Here are some common areas to explore and tips to try.
Are you aware of your emotions and how you handle them? At times, we all experience moments of intense emotion that we just don’t know what to do with, after all, we are all human! But what do you do when you are feeling overwhelmed with emotion that is painful such as anger, loneliness or sadness? How are you teaching your child to handle these emotions? Parenting consciously allows us to become conscious and aware of the emotion that we are experiencing and then taking care of ourself to allow it to pass.
Taking deep belly breaths is helpful while stating the feeling you are experiencing (in your head or out load). For example, “a part of me is lonely right now” Being conscious of not saying the phrase “I am lonely” because thats not who you are, you are having a momentary feeling of loneliness that will pass. Its important to not label yourself as “I am lonely”. Understanding your emotions and how to handle them in a healthy way will allow your child to do the same. Having them see you take a moment for yourself to perhaps just breathe, will equip them with a tool they can use when they experience an intense emotion.
Teaching your child what they are feeling and how to handle it is very important in cultivating their connection to self and others. Having them recognize that feelings will come and go and that a feeling doesn’t define who they are, nor does it define who you are, will give them confidence and freedom to let go and surrender. Letting go and surrendering to feelings dramatically reduces suffering time which is what we could all use more of!
Eating holistically and being aware of the decisions we make in the kitchen will effect our children for the rest of their lives. Have you ever asked yourself how do you nurture your body? Or what do you want of your body? Energy? Vitality? Walking our talk in the kitchen is so important for our health, our child’s health and the planet’s health. A child will grow to know and love what they are exposed to on a regular basis. If you are offering your child organic broccoli and seaweed for example, they will soon develop a pallet for it and will eventually grow to enjoy it.
Providing our children with nourishing, organic, whole foods early on in life is key to helping their bodies become healthy and resilient. Whatever a child is exposed to is what a child will know. Looking at other cultures where food looks, smells, and tastes very different than what we are used to in North America is a great example of this.
The power of language is a helpful tool in supporting your child to eat in a more nourishing way (as well as yourself). For example, using words such as “treat” and “dessert” doesn’t have to mean “sugary and unhealthy” (which is what most believe to be true about dessert). If we use the word “treat” and give them something healthy, yet different or a food they usually wouldn’t get, we can redefine what a “treat” means.
Redefining what a “treat or dessert” means to us is usually harder because we have many more years of cultural conditioning not to mention our bodies physiologically crave these sugary foods because they are used to receiving them! Children will respond faster if you are also eating “healthy” foods for dessert. Be patient and gentle with yourself through this shift and transition. Go slow and take baby steps toward living a more healthful life.
Another important area to look at on the parenting journey is taking care of your own needs. We tend to focus on other people’s needs (especially our children’s) which is important, but if we aren’t taking care of our own needs as well, we will be teaching this to our children. Would you prefer to teach your children how to take care of themselves as well as others?
When we become aware of this, it almost takes the guilt away that most mother’s feel when they do something nice for themselves. For example, as moms we often feel guilty about taking time for ourselves. There are so many reasons why this is a MUST. One, you will teach your child how to take care of themselves. Two, you will have a much higher tolerance for your own emotions such as frustration and impatience. Three, you can reconnect with yourself and those around you!
The beautiful thing about this is that you will feel more connected to yourself as well as your child and as a consequence, you will be indirectly teaching your child life skills and values that will serve them on a much larger scale then you may ever know. Walking your talk will always be a win-win for you and your child. Understanding that when you take care of yourself and do loving things that bring you joy, your child will learn these healthy habits too!
Getting clear about what you want for your life and how you want to live your life will help make the gift of parenting a more enjoyable journey. Knowing who you are and taking care of yourself emotionally, nutritionally, and physically will making “walking your talk” easy to do because its just how you live! It is who you are. Walking your talk and leading by example when parenting is the greatest gift you can give your child and yourself.
Living your authentic truth gives your children the permission to do the same. Listening to what is inside of you rather than observing and living what others expect of you will serve you and your child for a lifetime. When you listen and trust this part of yourself, your child will see and trust this part of themselves as well. You will live a life that is your authentically yours and consequently so will your child; you will be living a life of joy, meaning, health and purpose and so will your child!
Natasha Grey, M.A. NatashaGrey.com