“The Greatest Love of All” is a song written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed and originally recorded by George Benson. I have titled my blog this week “Teach the children and let them lead the way” as I feel it is something we should all be doing as parents and role models. It seems that the obesity problem we are constantly hearing about is down to the Food & Drink Manufacturing industries cramming their products with excess sugar and fat, which many of us are now addicted to. The government also has a part to play in this epidemic in that they are responsible for educating our children and finally the parents who should be teaching their children how to keep themselves fit and healthy. I guess if the parents were not taught this in school or by their parents then the message may never get through in the right manner and the vicious circle continues. So how do we change this?
What if the schools curriculum included a more diverse design of PSHE (Personal, Social & Health Education) which includes teaching children empathy, how to relax, self-control, will power and setting goals and achieving them. A definition of empathy is as follows:
- A sense of self-awareness and the ability to distinguish one’s own feelings from the feelings of others.
- Taking another person’s perspective (or, alternatively, “putting oneself in another person’s shoes”)
- Being able to regulate one’s own emotional responses.
Wouldn’t this be something our children would need to survive and thrive in this world? It would teach them self-control, stress management (god knows they’re going to need it), effective communicating. By understanding how to regulate their own emotional responses they would be less likely to comfort eat as after all this behaviour contributes to obesity.
As a Nutritional Therapist, I am constantly trying to educate my children the healthiest way to eat and always finding creative and fun ways to teach them concepts that may seem difficult to understand because they cannot be seen by the human eye. The science of Nutrition is something that I try to pass on to my children in a fun way as I believe that by understanding what goes on inside the body, they are likely to make healthier choices down the line when they leave home.
For example, the other morning on the school run my 10 year old son showed me where he had mistakenly been stabbed by a pencil in class on his hand and asked me, “why is it red Mummy”? I explained that inside our body there is a powerful force known as The Immune System and that beneath the skins surface there is a force field that protects us and when an invader enters, whether it be a “pencil” or a virus or bacteria, the brain alerts the Immune System and tells it to attack! I explained that the air and our surroundings are filled with dirt and bacteria and viruses which we breathe in every day and that if we eat all the foods that are healthy for us then they “re-charge” the Immune System like a battery which keeps us safe.
He then asked me “what if they lose the battle”? I explained that sometimes this can happen and we may need extra help in the form of medicine to get us better. With this my son told me “next time I ask for some sweets, Mum, can you remind me of our conversation”? My job is done.
It is not always easy to persuade your children that you know best, particularly as they reach teenager-dom (I have one of those too!) but I think if we can subtly bring small tit-bits of information in the way of story telling that relates to themselves, they will listen and understand to love their little bodies more and that will hopefully lead them down a path of willingness to be healthy.