Before you fall asleep at night and when you wake up in the morning, you think about your child. You’re turning over ways to help them do well in school and trying to foresee how to keep them out of trouble. Everything you’ve ever wished for in your life now seems trivial compared to your desire to raise your child to be a successful, happy, and healthy adult.
But, regardless of how far along you are on your parenting journey, you likely already realize that raising children to be healthy, well-rounded adults is easier said than done. Contrary to the parenting books lining your shelves and a favorites folder full of child-rearing articles that you’ve been meaning to get around to reading, there is no one-size-fits-all set of instructions that will guarantee parenting success.
Even though no one can provide you with a fail-safe plan, there are simple practices and habits you can implement so that you’re surrounding your child with the love, happiness, and encouragement they need to build confidence and reach their goals.
Create a Supportive Environment
Raising a well-rounded child starts with establishing a solid support system at home. It’s important to remember that your home is your child’s first classroom. As essential as picking out the right house for your family, the education that happens under your roof is vital to raising a confident child.
For example, long before your child sets foot in school, you’re teaching them social skills. From modeling healthy arguments when you disagree with your spouse to prioritizing conversation while regularly eating dinner together, the example you’re setting is one that your child will reap education and emotional rewards from for years to come.
In addition to teaching them social skills, encourage your child to pursue academic interests from an early age. Establish a storytime ritual, or use allowances and a chore chart to begin teaching them math and how to manage their finances. Just as adults must budget for big purchases like housewares, children can learn to budget for purchases of their own, such as gaming consoles. Pay special attention to how your child learns best so you can identify and foster their specific learning style. As they mature, understanding their learning style will make encouraging them to work independently easier.
Encourage Body Positivity
Just like your child is taking academic cues from how often you pick up a book, they’re learning how to feel and talk about themselves from the behavior you display. If you’re prone to negative self-talk or judging other people’s physical appearances, be aware of how that can affect your child. By encouraging body positivity in the home, you’re teaching your child that their self-worth isn’t attached to a number on a scale. Focus on media from the beauty industry that promotes body positivity rather than on unrealistic expectations and teach your children to do the same.
Rather than focusing on weight or BMI, emphasize the importance of healthy eating and regular exercise. Make an effort to expose them to diverse bodies, and be careful not to single out one body type as “healthy.” Healthy comes in all shapes and sizes as does worthiness.
While enrolling your child in team sports organized activities is a great way to encourage regular exercise, don’t overlook the value of unstructured play. From kicking the soccer ball around as a family to exploring nearby hiking trails, find creative ways to be active with your child.
Let Them Make Mistakes
Many parents believe that if they’re going to raise their children to be well-rounded, healthy adults, then they have to be hands-on all the time. You love your child, so it’s only natural that you want to protect them. However, while it may initially seem like the right thing to do, not allowing your children to make mistakes and solve problems on their own is actually doing them a disservice.
To grow up to be a well-rounded, healthy adult, your child needs to develop resilience and resourcefulness. But, that won’t happen if you’re always rushing to fix problems for them. It’s important to know when to step in and when to allow your child to find a solution on their own.
For example, if you suspect they might have a chronic illness, you’re going to advocate for their health when they go to a doctor. But, if they’re having an issue with a coach, it’s an opportunity for them to advocate for themselves rather than you swooping in to complain about playing time.
Every parent wants their child to grow up to be a happy and healthy adult. While there’s no roadmap for guaranteed parenting success, there are steps you can take to put your child in the best possible position to become a well-rounded adult. Creating a supportive environment, encouraging body positivity, and letting them make mistakes are all vital for helping your child on their journey to adulthood.
Bio: Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. Her areas of expertise and topics she typically covers revolve around child development, parenting, family health and wellness, and mindfulness. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter: @HamiltonJori