Hello, everyone! As you know from previous posts I don’t have children, but I think my perspective as a young adult looking back on my childhood really helps to illuminate what works and what doesn’t when it comes to parenting. I’m sure some of you can do the same.
Today I want to talk about the importance of habit formation. Before recently switching majors, I studied psychology. Habit formation was my favorite topic to learn about because it is so relevant day to day, whether it’s concerning dieting or the impressionable routines of children. In short, habituating activities eventually transfers your conscious decision to perform said activity to a different part of your brain so that you continue to practice the activity without really thinking about it. This is why we are able to mindlessly eat an entire bag of chips in one sitting (I’m not the only one, right?) and multitask while brushing our teeth.
That being said, it’s easy as a parent to develop good habits for your children because you are a huge part of their lives and schedule. A great way to start is exercise. As I said, the first few activities might be a challenge to enforce, but after that it will start to come more easily. Exercise can be fun, and some of my fondest memories and oldest traditions with my parents come from moments like these. To this day, my dad and I enjoy bike rides on a local trail that we take to a diner to have breakfast before riding back. Not only did it make me feel special to have this one on one time with my dad, but it established a meaningful tradition that also shaped the type of activities I involve myself in now. Once your body gets used to being active, it will crave the endorphins that such activities provoke, creating the habit to get out and move in some way. In the same way, watching TV on the couch all day will cause your body to be automatically lethargic and unlikely to engage in exercise.
Bonding with your kids or the kids you mentor is rewarding in itself, but helping to create these habits will have a positive effect on the rest of their lives. Exercise doesn’t have to be the forever-dreaded treadmill running. My parents had access to a bike trail, but endless activities like yoga exist today that will disguise exercise in a fun and beneficial way.