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Physical and mental health are crucial for everyone for happiness. As parents, what can we do for ensuring these in our kids as they grow up?
As a parent, I sometimes wonder what can we possibly give to our kids as inheritance – money or learnings or grooming (or just simply raising them is good enough!)? Will wealth, houses, cars etc. help them lead a good life? Will all the money-oriented belongings be sufficient to make them happy? Personally, I do not really think so. I do not believe in giving every worldly object to our kids, so that they never get to understand the feeling of not having something that their heart desires. That would mean, no personal goals or dreams of their own.
In today’s time, most of us invest in quality education and surely, that would help our kids in order to make a decent living for themselves when they grow up (I say decent because that is the least that I desire, one could want fine or good or great, it’s all very subjective). But above all the stuff that ‘money can buy’, it is their physical and mental well-being which would actually make a difference to the quality of their life.
Health is the keyword that I am referring to in this write-up and when I say health, I mean both physical and mental health. Without them, anyone’s life is nothing but miserable.
Primarily, enough nutrition when they are growing up will help them in their middle age and beyond and one day, they may even thank you for the same! Enough has been said and written about green vegetables, salads, milk, yoghurt, fresh fruits, dry fruits etc. and we all are very well aware of healthy foods and their benefits, so no more gyaan on that here!
Since feeding is the most important part of the initial years of child care, as a parent we must make it a point to include all the healthy food items in their meals and make them a part of their eating habits. Because these habits developed in the early age would stick with them for a long long time. Given the level of activity in childhood, one may not always see the harmful effects of unhealthy eating habits but at a later stage, they would cause harm for sure and then that becomes the most significant factor for one’s success or failure.
A healthy body is a prerequisite for achieving anything in life. There is no choice here, you have got no alternative at all. A daily routine of exercise, yoga, walk or some sports is equally important to be included right from an early age, so much that it becomes a part of their life, a compulsively habitual part even when they grow up and get busy in life.
It is a very broad topic to be covered in one go. I would stick to two basic qualities that I believe are the most important ingredients of mental health leading to a confident and self-assuring adult.
First and foremost, make them responsible. Because when you feel responsible for a thing or a person or a job only then you put a whole-hearted effort towards the same. Not everyone will have same aptitude to cope with all that one may face in life but a responsible person will always endeavour to move in the right direction and to make best use of the available resources which would make him or her happy and satisfied irrespective of the end results. A responsible person will always be earnest in all the interactions, be it with family, friends, spouse, children, colleagues, surroundings, country, environment and so on. It is when we shun our responsibilities that we become indifferent, unresponsive and apathetic and then there is no desire to do anything or to take ownership of even one’s own life.
Starting from an early age, kids should be encouraged to take responsibility of small things to start with like their school bag, toys, books, clothes, shoes etc. Later on, they can be involved in various household chores and then further, in making choices, in planning a trip, in grocery shopping, in bills, payments and money matters, in managing parties and get togethers. There would be so many such events and instances where we can include them in planning and execution and make them fully responsible for a certain task or a part of it. They may do it right or totally wrong initially but they will value the learning forever!
They must experience, learn and practice independence, which I believe, is the second most important ingredient. They should be given enough opportunities to do things independently and to relish the joy of being self-independent. We as parents, go overboard at times and try to do everything for them, at times to save time or to be sure that it’s done properly or to avoid the mess that they may create, but by doing so, we are making them a dependent person which eventually would hamper their decision making, their judgement acumen and in turn, will make them less confident. None of us want that for our kids, right! But unknowingly, we create a well-meaning, cohesive, comfortable environment around them which leads to such inherent personality issues.
Our kids, slowly and steadily, must learn to move out of the comfort zones of our presence, of our resources, of our authority and ownership, to understand the world and its ways on their own. As adults, they must be able to fend for themselves and their loved ones under any circumstances. Looking up to their parents for support when required and depending upon parents to manage all their affairs, are two different things altogether.
As a society, our world needs responsible doers and independent thinkers and we as parents must work towards the same. We are responsible for developing our kids into such fine grown-ups who are able to live a soul fulfilling life and not just float around in this magnificent but chaotic world.
Image source: pixinio
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