Teaching your child to value green living and healthy habits might seem like a difficult thing to do, but it doesn’t have to be. If you want your child to learn something, you should model the behavior you're wanting him or her to replicate.
Of course, for your child to model your behavior you actually need to spend time with your child and raise them so that they will listen to your green advice. What your child needs the most is your unconditional love, full attention and presence. The importance of bonding from early childhood should not be underestimated if you're looking to raise healthy, happy and eco-conscious children.
Strengthen the love from day one.
Bonding with your child starts the moment you find out you’re going to be a parent. When your kid is born, it’s important that you do all in your power to strengthen the bond that you two share. This type of focussed parenting should continue as your child grows up.
When your kid is still in infancy, your main concern should be spending as much quality time with them as possible. Physical contact is essential for small kids. So keep your child close to you by carrying him or her as you go for walks through the park. You can take the pram if you need to. Bonding in this way will significantly improve your relationship, and encourage an appreciation of nature from an early age.
You can also take your newborn hiking if you're super confident. You can enjoy wandering through nature but make sure to pick a sustainably-made baby carrier to put your baby in if you decide to head into the wilderness.
Want a green-loving kid? Encourage an interest and respect for nature as early as possible. There's no such thing as being too young to appreciate Mother Nature.
Create a safe non-judgemental space.
As your child gets older, they will start to express themselves more freely. While physical expression of love is necessary no matter their age, you should adjust your attachment parenting style a bit. The way you speak to them, act and treat them will significantly shape their outlook on the world.
Unless the choices and circumstances are dangerous and age-inappropriate, make sure to offer full support to your child. Show them that you respect the things he or she finds appealing. This will further strengthen the bond between you and give your child the freedom to express themselves and explore interests in a comfortably and non-judgemental environment.
Creating a safe and trusting space for your child means that any guidance and advice that you give them will be welcomed rather than challenged. So if you want to pass on your message of healthy eating and green living, make sure to foster a kind and loving environment so your child receives the message with love.
Walk the talk.
One of the best ways to motivate your kids to embrace a green and healthy lifestyle is to walk the talk and show them how fun it is to make better choices. Telling them to do something won't be as effective as showing them.
So you want your children to be physically active? Sitting on the couch watching TV or huddling over your iPhone Instagramming and posting on Facebook every chance you get is not the right way to go about it. Instead go out and ride your bike, practice yoga at home or head to the beach and go for a swim. Join a sporting club and get your kids to cheer you on. This way, your kids will perceive physical activity as just a normal part of life and will mirror your behaviour.
The same can be said for recycling. Teach them what should or shouldn't be recycled. Make it a game for them if you like by giving them a healthy treat each time they get the recycling choice right.
Shopping trips with kids in tow can be a horrible experience for many parents, but it needn't be. Use this time to teach them lessons about how food is grown and manufactured. Telling fun stories about how farmers grow fruit and veggies, feed cows and chickens and why organic is healthier means your kids will be more connected to their food.
If you build the foundation for healthy living early on, your children will make better choices even when TV commercials, advertising and marketing start to prey on them. They'll be able to see through it and make the right choices.
Raising your child with a healthy respect for our natural world is one thing, but in these interesting political times, it's even more important to bring them up with a respect for all races, cultures and religions. Tolerance begets tolerance. So as soon as your child starts to be aware of themselves and others, it is important that you begin to model respect and tolerance for people of all income-levels, ages, disabilities and nationalities. When your child has a question about race, religion or anything else, make sure to take the time to explain so that they may expand their knowledge, but more importantly, their compassion.
Here are some activities to encourage understanding and acceptance of all humans:
- as a family, volunteer at a charity,
- be involved in a community garden,
- take your kids to church or other religious gathering,
- enrol your kids in a team sport such as football, soccer and basketball,
- invite kids from all backgrounds to birthday celebrations.
By purposely introducing your kids to people of all different backgrounds, you're encouraging cultural understanding thereby reducing instances of discrimination, ignorance and bigotry.
Raising eco-conscious, healthy, kind and confident kids won't be easy in this modern world of convenience, waste and narcissism, but if you have a strong relationship paved with love, patience and support, the cards will definitely be stacked in your favor!