by Randi Rubenstein
“Kids learn from our example, not our advice.” Years ago, when I was a student of the program Conscious Discipline, the central theme as I understood it was: “Adults must walk the walk first before we have any business talking the talk to our kids.” In other words, practice what you preach, because kids learn by the behavior their parents model rather than the words we use to lecture them. This is also relevant in terms of living a healthy life involving green habits.
Green habits are exactly what you are probably thinking — replacement habits involving something greener. Healthier.
If you want your kids to eat healthy, be athletically fit, have body confidence, and respond calmly and rationally when upset rather than having explosive tantrums, then incorporating green habits into BOTH of your lives will support you in achieving these goals. There is a reason why eating clean and exercising daily is on everyone’s to-do list or at least everyone I seem to hang around.
As the cutting-edge functional medicine movement teaches us, food, exercise, and mindful practices combat sickness and disease and can really add to living a fulfilled life. The science is finally supporting what many wise folks have long known. Green habits support optimal health and living a beautiful, LONG life.
Often as parents, we have expectations for our kids that we haven’t met ourselves. It comes from a good place because we want the world for them. Of course, we don’t want our kids to be addicted to sugar or their screens. We know how much of a struggle it has been for us to battle the belly bulge or to develop healthier lifestyle habits. We would never want that for the people we love the most.
To make greener choices for you and your kids, here are three quick tips to get started:
1. Walk outside with your kids for 15-30 minutes after dinner. If you have a dog, then even better — Rex will get some exercise and bonding time, too, as you create a green routine with your kiddo.
There is something about walking side by side with your kids that invites a great conversation. I like to say that peripheral vision is like truth serum for boys and teenagers. Don’t force the conversation. Allow silence and space and the conversation will organically happen.
This green habit is a heck of a lot of bang for your buck — fresh air, connecting convos, moving your bodies together, and maybe even time with poor neglected Rex, all at the same time!
2. Throw a handful of spinach leaves into a fruit smoothie. No one will be the wiser – especially if you add a little chocolate protein powder. It takes me back to the delicious Wendy’s Frosty of yesteryear but oh so much healthier.
3. Breathing is like, the greenest habit ever. Life literally begins and ends on a breath. There is nothing that gets more basic and un-fluffy than breathing. Breathing lowers stress hormones. It’s our own way of creating the natural version of an anti-anxiety med.
Learn how to take a deep nourishing breath. Seriously. If you aren’t into yoga, look up the box breath and watch a quick video on it. Teach your kids how to breathe too. Tell them that Navy Seals use the box breath to remain calm in the field during a high-stress situation.
Next, use this breathing technique any time you feel like you’re about to lose it as a replacement for yelling and losing your stuff. Sounds simple, right? Practice taking deep, audible breaths any time you feel triggered and notice the diffusion of the tension in your household. This is a game-changer.
Green habits will support you and your family in more ways than I can sell you on here. It’s easy to get started. Simply take baby-steps rather than making a mountain out of a molehill. You can begin today by simply replacing yelling moments with the breath. Your kids will love the results — and oh, I forgot to mention that you’ll sleep better too without the guilty racing thoughts spinning through your mind. Are you sold yet?