What our be­hav­iours are teach­ing our kids

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE | FAMILY LIFE - An­gela Lock­wood

EVER used the old “be­cause I said so” as a part of your par­ent­ing tool kit?

I cer­tainly have. This used to work such a treat, a solid end to any ob­jec­tion. But times are chang­ing.

Chil­dren are switched on and “be­cause I said so” no longer cuts it. Chil­dren are look­ing at what we do, not just what we say. They are look­ing to us for guid­ance and as we ex­pe­ri­ence in­creas­ing rates of sick­ness, burnout from work, and detri­men­tal cop­ing habits we are not paint­ing an as­pi­ra­tional pic­ture.

So what are we teach­ing chil­dren about the im­por­tance of man­ag­ing our health and well-be­ing?

Through my work as a pe­di­atric oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist I have seen over the last decade the changes in how chil­dren learn about their place in the world. Even though they can ac­cess any in­for­ma­tion through the in­ter­net, they con­tinue to look to adults to help them nav­i­gate life.

So it is im­per­a­tive as the speed at which we live con­tin­ues to has­ten that we take the time to no­tice the mes­sages we are send­ing our chil­dren through our own be­hav­iour.

Are we ac­tu­ally prac­tis­ing what we preach? We need to lead by ex­am­ple and if we are to help our kids es­tab­lish good habits let’s take a look at how we can fa­cil­i­tate that by first start­ing with mon­i­tor­ing our own.

My chil­dren won’t play out­side

To en­cour­age chil­dren to play out­side there needs to be an in­cen­tive, it needs to be more fun than play­ing on tech­nol­ogy in­side. One way to en­cour­age this is to get out­side and play with them. Kids love noth­ing more than play­ing cricket with a par­ent, or go­ing for a bike ride or even a game of tiggy through the yard.

When we go out­side in the fresh air and be ac­tive with them, they see us hav­ing fun and even bet­ter, we are hav­ing fun with them, a win-win for ev­ery­one.

My child doesn’t tell me any­thing

Have you no­ticed the signs in shops that read “We will not in­ter­rupt your phone call by try­ing to serve you”? These are great. It is frus­trat­ing and rude when you are try­ing to talk to some­one and they con­tinue a con­ver­sa­tion on their phone.

Un­for­tu­nately, we often do this as par­ents. As a child shares their sto­ries from the day we take a phone call or re­spond to a mes­sage. Un­less you are wait­ing for an im­por­tant call that needs your im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion, when a child is shar­ing a story if the ding sounds or the phone rings, it can wait. By do­ing this we re­in­force to our chil­dren that they are im­por­tant and we are ready to lis­ten when they need to talk.

My child just won’t go to sleep

The ben­e­fits of sleep is well known, im­proved con­cen­tra­tion, a strong im­mune sys­tem and help­ing us deal with stress. On the flip-side, poor sleep leads to ir­ri­tabil­ity, sick­ness and fa­tigue.

Our sleep is im­por­tant and it starts with what we do be­fore we turn in at night. Set a night time rou­tine for the house­hold that does not in­volve tech­nol­ogy be­fore go­ing to bed.

Night time rou­tines that in­volve ac­tiv­i­ties like quiet read­ing, chill out time and a con­sis­tent bed time al­lows us to switch off from the ac­tiv­ity of the day and tran­si­tions us into a state ready for a rest­ful night’s sleep.

Our chil­dren look to us for guid­ance. To sup­port them in be­com­ing re­silient in an ever-chang­ing world we need to model pos­i­tive habits our­selves. If they look to us for guid­ance we need to be role mod­els.

An­gela Lock­wood is an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist with a spe­cial in­ter­est in pae­di­atrics. Go to www. an­ge­lalock­wood.com.au and fol­low her on Twit­ter @an­ge­lock­wood and In­sta­gram @an­ge­lalock­wood_.

PHOTO: THINK­STOCK

IG­NORE THAT PHONE: Show your chil­dren they are im­por­tant and that you are ready to lis­ten when they need to talk.

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