Being a parent is hard.
Being a healthy parent is even harder. Parents give so much of their time, resources and overall energy to the process of raising a healthy child. While routines, structures, and discipline are put in place to help the child, it becomes very difficult for most parents to navigate the concept of their own personal mental and physical health.
A stress-relieving night out might be a rare occurrence in a parent’s schedule, while eight hours of sleep might be as extinct as the dinosaurs in the museums.
Parents want their children to develop into happy, healthy and successful individuals.
They want children who interact appropriately with others, earn good grades at school, make moral decisions, have extracurricular skills, and brush their teeth without being asked ten times. Studies show that “responsibility” is consistently among the top traits parents want their children to possess. Often, the quest for raising a responsible child leads parents to minimize the responsibility they have to themselves and their own health.
As a child therapist I am often asked what it takes to raise a healthy child. One of the first things I say is that a parent pursuing health for themselves is a great place to start when trying to raise a healthy child. Consider the following commands a parent commonly tells their child in order to promote healthy development. Assess how often you follow your own advice:
- It’s time for bed
Making sleep a priority is essential for health. Instead of staying up to watch an extra episode of a show, try going to bed as soon as the kids are asleep. Dedicating a 10 hour time block for sleep can give you an extra hour or two for unplanned interruptions.
- Don’t forget to brush your teeth
Maintaining a routine of hygiene and basic self-care will help you feel ready and confident for the day.
- It’s time to play
Fun social interaction with friends or your partner is stress-relieving and energizing.
- Use your words
Your emotions and experiences matter too. Be intentional about finding a space for emotional self-care. Consider a therapist for yourself!
- Eat your vegetables
Food is your fuel. Nutritious food will keep you going and feeling good!
If you want a happy and healthy child, take time to build up a happy and healthy parent. Parenting is a selfless endeavor and one of the most selfless actions you can do is model pursuing health and maybe your child will see by your actions how important it is.
Instead of feeling and acting overwhelmed most of the time consider how your health can be improved by getting enough sleep, maintaining a basic self-care routine, engaging in fun activities, using your words, and eating your vegetables
Child Therapist | MA
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