You want your children to be happy. But you also want them to start making good decisions early on. As a single parent, it may seem you have to do the job of two, when it comes to teaching responsibility. Read on for tips on how to raise a child who will make good choices and grow into a responsible, fulfilled adult.
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It’s relatively easy to ensure that children eat well at home. But you also want to know that, when they are visiting with their friends, they’re still making good food choices.
The first line of defence is to model good eating and make sure that unhealthy snack food doesn’t make its way into your home. Take the time to prepare salads from fresh ingredients. Cook meals that feature vegetables and lean meats like chicken, turkey, and fish.
Snacks should be raw apples, strawberries, oranges, or other tasty faw, whole fruit. If your son or daughter isn’t getting into these staples, plan a fun fruit tasting where you both sample less traditional fruits, like mango and pineapple.
It’s never too early to start teaching a child basic nutrition, especially protein, fiber, and calories. Point out what foods, like ice cream, are high in calories, so we eat them infrequently. Note that there are good proteins, like non-fat yogurt and egg whites, that don’t come with a lot of calories.
Consider augmenting your child’s nutrition education by growing some of your own vegetables or berries. If you don’t have enough land to do this, try getting a community garden plot or going to farmer’s markets.
Talk to your child about the importance of sleep. Point out that people who don’t get enough sleep often make mistakes, have accidents, don’t do well on tests, etc. Make sure your child understands that sleep is restorative.
Your child’s room should be very dark at night, with a nightlight only if she is scared of the dark. Make sure that all computer, ipad, or cell phone screens are black. Make sure her room is also quiet.
If your child has any trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, it’s time to eliminate caffeine and sugar from his diet.
Your child needs at least sixty minutes of vigorous exercise a day. The best kind of exercise for you and your child is the kind that is fun. When exercise seems like work, we don’t want to do it. If your child shows an interest in team sports, encourage that. Find her a lacrosse league or a soccer league to be part of.
If your child doesn’t really like team sports, make sure he has an opportunity to learn bicycling, ice skating, rock climbing, swimming, or some other sport that appeals to rugged individuals.
If it is safe to do so, encourage your child to walk or bicycle to school. Encourage him to walk the dog instead of watching cartoons on the weekends. Set a good example by running errands on foot yourself. Walk or bike to the convenience store, the drug store, and the library.
Combating Peer Pressure
Every child will, at some point, be offered a beer or a joint, or even something more dangerous. To combat peer pressure, be a good role model to your child. Don’t let him see you drinking or smoking.
It’s never too early to talk to your child about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Explain why you don’t drink or take drugs.
You can’t dispatch the risk of alcohol and drug use in just one conversation. It will need to be something you discuss on an ongoing basis. You should not defer this discussion until your child is in his late teens. Experts recommend discussing drugs and alcohol with your child as early as sixth grade.
Your child or early teen may note that others his age have “gotten away with it.” To combat this perception, make sure your child understands the invisible dangers of alcohol and drug use. Drugs and alcohol can hurt brain development, for instance. And they can damage the body in other ways.
In conclusion, if your child sees you making good choices about food, sleep, and exercise, he is quite likely to do the same. Rather than laying down the law about snacks and peers, talk to your children about your family’s lifestyle and why you avoid certain foods and activities in favor of others. Then trust your kid to make good decisions when you’re not around.
Guest Author, Daniel Sherwin
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Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At Dad Solo, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood. He wrote a blog for us, packed with great tips for single parents who need to save time and money.