Parenting comes with an enormous amount of responsibility, and there are conflicting messages from all angles. One minute we’re told to set the perfect example, the next we’re being told to relax and let our kids learn their own lessons.
Most parents base their decisions on instinct, and it’s important to remember that no one’s perfect. However, we should not forget that we are our children’s first teachers and that our behavior will shape them for life. With this in mind, here are five unhealthy parenting habits that could be affecting your kids.
Children take all of their cues from us parents, so if you are acting especially anxious or stressed, your child is going to pick up on this. We all know that increased cortisol in a mother’s bloodstream can affect her child in utero, but this isn’t the only time that parental stress can affect a child’s development. Our children are like sponges, after all.
If you’re prone to anxiety or stress, try to show your child how you work through these feelings. It’s OK to feel these things and demonstrate them to your child from time to time – everyone experiences them at some point, after all – but you also need to provide coping strategies that your child can emulate.
However hard you try to get your child to eat healthy, if you don’t practice what you preach then your child is less likely to obey your rules. It sounds simple, but many parents underestimate the impact their diets can have on their kids. Provide an environment in which all family members exhibit healthy attitudes to food, including moms and dads, and your child will take his cues from you. This means finding a balance in which “treat foods” are enjoyed in moderation, but not leveraged as rewards or punishments. Like all aspects of parenting, this is easier said than done, but your child will thank you in the long run.
It goes without saying that smoking can lead to serious health complications, but what about passive smoking? Surely there is no risk if you don’t smoke around your kids? Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case. Breathing in passive smoke from clothes and hair can put children at risk of asthma, bronchitis, coughs and colds and even meningitis and cot death, so you need to curb your habit once you become a parent.
Stopping smoking is easier said than done, so you’ll need to consult your physician for advice on how to quit. In the meantime, buy yourself a vaporizer and treat yourself to some flavored vaping juice. Inhaling nicotine through a vaporizer is still harmful, but the risks of passive smoking are significantly reduced, plus you’ll avoid the toxic chemicals in traditional cigarettes.
Almost all parents will drink occasionally, and there is something to be said for demonstrating moderation in your alcohol consumption. Having the odd glass of wine over dinner with your kids is fine, but drinking to excess can set a bad example and make you less responsible. If you do decide to have a drink when your children are present, stick to just one, and keep it out of the reach of your youngsters. Consuming alcohol at an early age is linked to increased risk of liver disease and can even poison very young children, so be responsible.