“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Although you might not be able to influence everyone in the world around you directly, you most certainly do with your kids. If you want to have healthy, confident, independent and compassionate children, you need to lead by example. It’s really hard to take steps to actually doing it though. Old habits die hard, and it takes a lot of work and dedication to change yourself. Do your best.
The best thing you can do is tackle one thing at a time. Trying to give yourself a total overhaul in one fell swoop is an unrealistic expectation, and if we could all do that so easily therapists wouldn’t have much work. But, although there are many things in life that you can’t control, you can control the way you treat yourself and see yourself.
I’ve been guilty of all of these, but they are all changes I want to work towards for myself. I know these might sound a bit like New Year’s resolutions, which is ridiculous because it’s summer, but it’s never a bad time for self-improvement, right?
Stop Rewarding Yourself With Junk Food
You deserve more than a passing pleasure, and junk food is just that. This isn’t a fat-shaming thing. If you want to reward yourself with food, go ahead; but have it be an experience, not a guilty pleasure. Go to a restaurant, or eat something you’ve never tried before. Don’t grab a chocolate bar, or a bag of white cheddar popcorn (my personal vice). Make your reward something memorable. As people, sometimes we get hung up on not being where we want to be in life. This will not only have you enjoy your accomplishments more, it will also help you remember that you have achieved things.
If you’ve done something worth earning a reward for, you deserve to remember what your reward was. Treat yourself to a date, a book, a movie, a cool model kit. Treat yourself to an experience. Don’t let your little accomplishments be washed away in the tide, they deserve to be remembered.
“But you just said don’t treat yourself with food.” you might think. And yeah, I absolutely did. But, not only does dieting put stress on you, negative associations with food can be very dangerous for your child. Daughter or son. Eating disorders are born from negative relationships with food. If you want to change your diet, do so. Don’t go on a diet. Eat more veggies, eat healthier. All bodies are beautiful, and if you put a lot of value in changing your appearance, your child might put a lot of stock into associating thinness with beauty.
If you put emphasis on living a healthy life and partake in the occasional indulgence, you will instil good eating habits, and a good relationship with food, on your kid. Also, if you focus on being healthy rather than skinny, you just might end up loving your body even if it doesn’t fit into your jeans from high school.
I know this one might not be the most practical in the hustle and bustle of your everyday lives. And maybe it doesn’t have to be a nap nap. Taking a moment to rest when you are tired is good for you. Whether you are stressed out and need to close your eyes and breathe for a few minutes, or you’ve been running on 4 hours of sleep in a 48 hour period, listening to your body is important. Being in tune with your body and knowing when to step back and lie down will help your relationships. I know when I’m tired or stressed, my patience is the first thing to go.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed By What You Haven’t Accomplished
This one is probably the one that I need to overcome the most. Try to focus on all that you’ve done up to this point, and if you don’t feel like you’ve done much, I’m sure you’ve got a ton of people who will tell you otherwise. Trying to focus on the future too much will only stress you out, and bring you down. It will make your kid think that self-worth is intrinsically tied to success. Success is measured in many ways, and being content with who you are now is one. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try to pursue things and improve yourself, your life, or your career; it just means that you shouldn’t be measuring yourself by what you haven’t done.
Express Your Feelings
I know that a lot of parents put on a brave face when times are tough to be strong for their kids. But shutting your emotions out doesn’t help anybody. It certainly doesn’t help teach your child about empathy, sympathy or compassion. It shows them that showing emotion is a weakness. By allowing yourself to talk openly about your feelings, you are not only relieving yourself of repressed feelings, you are showing your kid that healthy relationships are based on communication and compassion.
“If you want to make the world a better place, just look at yourself and make a change” – Michael Jackson