Reinforcing Healthy Behavior

Namaste, readers! Today, I’m going to talk about how to get kids to do things they might not want to do. That sentence sounds a little bit terrible…but I’m talking about things like putting down the remote to play outside. I don’t have children myself, but I now retrospectively see how all of my mother’s little tricks worked on me as a child, and have started utilizing them as a part time nanny.

We always hear and advocate for the healthy living of our children (or the kids we babysit or teach), but it’s difficult to pry them away from something they’re enjoying so that they can begrudgingly, at first, get active. My mother made everything into a game to counter this notion. I’m sure you’ve heard of the “clean plate club,” in which eating your entire dinner meant mom could dub you a worthy member of this prestigious club.  What about the quiet game? How did I ever fall for that? The point is, it works! You sneaky moms!

I’m sure there are hundreds of ideas like this out there, but I’m going to tell you about how my mother got me to wear an eye patch 3 hours a day for a year. No, she’s not a crazy lady that wanted pirate children—the doctor recommended that I do this to ensure I didn’t get a lazy eye (I feel like I should attach a picture of myself or something to prove that I’m relatively normal, but you’ll just have to trust me).

Anyway, my mom made a weekly calendar where I would put one of the many stickers she had for me every day that I wore the patch for the allotted time. Once I had a whole week completed, I could open the little flap at the end and see my prize. Prizes like “1 trip to the park with just you and Daddy,” or “pick out a snack at the grocery store” coupled with an “I’m so proud of you, Cassie!!” quip from my mom. It worked like a charm.

Today, my mom admits that it was terribly hard for her to watch me hate that eye patch, but she knew it’d be better for me in the long run. Getting children active from a young age is equally if not definitely more important than my mother preventing my potential crazy eyes. No matter how you go about it, positive reinforcement for positive actions will help your kids, no matter what setting you interact with them in, grow up into a healthier and happier lifestyle.

Good luck!


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