Without a shadow of a doubt, everybody wants their kids to be healthy and successful in this world full of competition. It is evident that healthy kids lead healthy and successful lives. We always want the best for our children. So, we rely on various sources which consist of numerous tips available on the internet, in parenting books, and also through other parents. We exchange all sorts of parenting tips with family and friends. Most of our attempts prove futile and we end up making mistakes of which we are unaware. This happens due to a lack of authentic and practical based information.
Here we are going to discuss 4 common parenting mistakes that stop kids from becoming healthy adults.
1) Delay in Introduction of Healthy Foods
Many parents introduce certain types of foods only during the toddler or school-going stage and not during the weaning period of infants. They wrongly presume that most of the leafy vegetables, greens, broccoli, spinach, bitter gourd, salads, etc have an unpleasant taste and will not be liked by them.
But, research says, foods that are consumed even during pregnancy by mothers can transfer flavours through the amniotic fluid and in response, those kids have better acceptability of that food later on in life (during infancy-toddler to adult). The same transfer of flavors is observed in breastfeeding mothers to infants. In simple words, the culture-specific flavor, food habits of mothers can pass to the next generation via breastmilk and amniotic fluid. The mother’s eating habits and food choices affect the child’s favorability towards that food which starts from breastfeeding and the womb. It will prove to be beneficial for the child if the mother is conscious about it from the early stage of motherhood.
2) Forcing and running behind kids to eat
We often hear from the parents, “My child is underfeeding/overfeeding” or “if I will not make him sit, he/she will skip the meal.” They make schedules for their mealtime. This satisfies the well-being of parents as a caretaker of completing their job. However, there is a possibility that this may lead to kids having lower IQ, and poor academic and cognitive outcomes, in comparison to self-feeding kids.
On-demand feeding is recommended even for breastfeeding infants. This helps in self-regulation, self-discipline, and when to start and stop the body’s eating scale, which minimizes chances of over or undereating. Such kids turn out to be adults who understand portion control and signals of the eating satisfaction scale of their body.
What can be done to overcome these issues?
Keep the food covered on the table. Kids will play and when they feel hungry, they will automatically search for food and water. They will inculcate the habit of self-feeding. Keep foods as per their age or current stage. Eventually, they will form a pattern of eating at a specific time interval and frequency. Parents will also learn kids eating patterns with this trial-and-error process. In the beginning, ignore the expected messiness. They will learn how to conduct themselves better with age and time. They do not have the etiquettes that adult eaters practice. Patience is the key.
3) Not setting the right environment
“Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate”- Anonymous
Kids are free souls who have the best observational skills. They don’t like to be instructed. They learn and are influenced by their environment and the people living with them. What children see, they follow.
Parents’ routines, eating choices, habits, lifestyle, interest towards buying processed packaged foods or choosing healthy alternatives, and exercising, create a lifetime impact on their behaviour.
Parents often consume fatty or unhealthy foods in front of kids; on the contrary, they ask their children to eat salads. In the same way, they eat while using their mobile phones and expect their kids to switch off the TV while eating. These are just two examples of toxic parenting. Never do this if you want both the mental and physical wellbeing of the child. It is as simple as starting exercise or taking a step further and making exercise a playtime if you want your children to exercise regularly.
4) Expecting Perfection from your kids
Expecting kids to behave like an adult is wrong. They are in the learning and adapting stage. Creating a mess, undereating, or overeating, are all part of their learning experiences. They will slowly learn the effects of their actions on their satiety levels.
Parents get upset when children don’t finish vegetables on the plate or a glass of milk. They even complain, compare, and discuss with other parents regarding their child’s eating habits or body which is a big NO!
Talk to your kids about the importance and effects of good health on our bodies. Teach them and show them instead of only praising the superficial and stereotypical so-called good looks and fit body.
Expecting perfection from your kids, comparing them with other kids, and body shaming them will only increase problems from childhood, including poor self-esteem, anxiety, eating disorders, depression, more sensitivity towards criticism, procrastinating behaviour, etc.
So, set realistic goals and expectations. Teach them it’s okay to fail and restart again. Show empathy towards the child’s feelings.
Perfection is an illusion. Nobody and nothing is perfect. No one is a born parent; good parenting comes with time. You have your own journey and experience. Children, on the other hand, are also constantly learning and growing. Eating right, setting a routine, or exercising are also a type of skills. It requires consistency and patience. The kids learn about a healthy lifestyle from their parents early on in their lives and it is more likely for them to become self-disciplined, empathetic, healthy, and successful in life.
Author: Sana Hasan