Do You Want Active Outdoor Children?
Lead By Example.
Parents Can Be Masterful Role Models in the Battle Against Childhood Obesity
and Environmental Advocacy
By James M. Bullock
It’s been said that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Well, a child’s odyssey to a more active and rewarding life outdoors does literally start with them taking that all-important first step outside. However, kids today cannot be expected to walk along this path of personal fitness and environmental advocacy alone. Parents and caregivers should to be right in- step and involved with their children all along the way.
When it comes to shaping a child’s fitness and outdoor aptitude, parents should remember one unchallengeable truth and ultimate game changer in the battle against childhood obesity and outdoor deprivation: parents can be masterful role models. The most pervasive and persuasive method that parents have available to them with which to teach children about health, fitness and the importance of being outdoors is their own demonstration of such values.
Actions speak louder than words so it’s not enough to just tell a child that they need to go outside, exercise and eat right– you must show them how you are following an active, healthy lifestyle, as well. Yes, lead by example. Parents should exhibit passion and enjoyment for exercise and partaking in the great outdoors. Get children into a routine of daily outside activity and elevate their environmental awareness while they are young; it’s a gift that keeps on giving not only throughout their lives but will surely be passed along to generations to come.
Parents have the unique responsibility of being the primary role model for their child when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle and being outdoors. How you behave, what you choose, your habits—good and bad - influence your child each day. Aspiring to improve the health of your children and the quality of the planet should not be conveyed through the proverbial parental lip service shouted from the comforts of dad’s favorite recliner (You know exactly what I am talking about!).
Being a role model and making good choices is not optional for a parent - it’s standard operating procedure. Children do as you do, not as you say and they are watching your every move - YIKES! A bit intimidating? Perhaps. Opportunistic? Without question. Our children can learn from our missteps but all too often they simply repeat them unless we demonstrate how to change their life by leading a better one ourselves.
So don’t just sit there and tell your children to live a more active and rewarding life outdoors; walk the talk side-by-side and take that first single step together and you will be on your way to a fantastic and fit family journey of a thousand miles and many fond memories.