Happy Parents: How Your Health and Mood Impact Your Kid
Updated: Dec 4, 2019
courtesy of maxliving.com
Being a Parent is the Most Important Job
Experts say the most important job you have as a parent is to show your children how to live a fulfilling, happy life. Nothing is more powerful than the behavior blueprint you give your kids to live their best life.
Children closely mimic what they see from parents. If you smoke or abuse alcohol, studies show children grow up to do these same habits. Conversely, adults who maintain healthy self-esteem and cultivate healthy relationships raise children who are more likely to do so.
As a parent, you know that maintaining a stellar mood and vibrant health isn’t always easy. In our fast-faster society, coping with life’s inevitable hurdles means putting how you feel and how you take care of yourself on the backburner. But those things can impact your children and adolescents more than you might realize.
Let’s say you’ve had a rough day at work. You come home and snap at your child for not cleaning up his room or doing her chores. Children experience their own stressors, and when you take out yours on them, that mood worsens their stress levels.
Children Are Copy Cats
Children learn how to manage stress by observing your behavior. If you come home from work snappy, frazzled, and then veg out in front of the television, children are more likely to model that behavior.
Stress and Anger
Just like children feel certain things that are completely normal growing up, adults experience a wide range of uncomfortable emotions as parents, such as anger, embarrassment, and guilt.
The emotions themselves are neutral. How we respond — being conscious and stay in the moment rather than automatically reacting — can create a big impact on your children.
During that emotion — when you catch yourself getting angry at your 14-year-old, for instance — you can catch yourself and reframe that feeling in a different way. Take a deep breath, give yourself a time-out, or do something unexpected like act silly or hug your teenager.
These things take time to develop, and you’re not going to always get them right. But consider the impact they create on your child when they see you handle frustration or stress with mindfulness and grace. Though it might seem subtle during the moment, those reactions impact your children into adulthood.
How you respond matters to impressionable children and adolescents, but so do other healthy habits such as how you eat and move. Researchers find that children of parents who are stressed out eat fast food more often, exercise less, and have higher obesity rates.
During the first five years of life, children learn many critical behaviors including how to eat. Research shows that how parents eat — the beliefs, attitudes, and practices surrounding food and eating — can significantly impact children for life.
That healthy attitude carries into adolescence. About one-third of American early adolescents (10–14 years) are obese. Poor diet and physical inactivity play significant roles in obesity and chronic disease.
Many adolescents in this age group eat about two-thirds of their food at home, making the home an important environment for healthy eating. Until children reach work age and can purchase their own food, you have primary say about what foods are allowed in your home (and which ones aren’t).
Just as with your mood, children and adolescents observe your eating behavior. If they see you scarfing down potato chips or cookies after work, they are more likely to model those habits. Conversely, eating a bowl of raw almonds or apple slices with almond butter can have a significant impact on their eating behavior.
Healthy living extends into movement. Studies show when parents prioritize fitness, their children and especially adolescents are also more likely to do so.