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Healthy Living and Your Child's Future - Start Now

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Holistic Health and Your Family

Of course you want the best for your little chip-off-the-old-block. In your mind, she's healthy, wealthy, and wise. Whether or not that vision develops depends on you - and a long series of seemingly insignificant small choices.

You're in the grocery store with your 8-year-old. He wants an ice cream treat. Assuming you can afford a treat and your kid isn't allergic, you have several options. You could deny the treat (with or without an explanation about his behavior that afternoon), figure "oh well - it's summer - why not" and agree to a box, or indulge your kid to the max and snatch up all the packages the store has on the shelf.

You're in the kids' clothing section of a major retail establishment with your 11-year old. She reminds you that she's grown 2 inches since her last pair of summer shorts. (Yikes!) She tries on a couple of items before selecting the one she likes best. Again, you have options. You could leave the undesired clothes in a heap on the floor, re-hang them to hand the attendant, or take the extra step and re-stock them yourself.

Simple choices and your state of health

As you choose between these options in the moment, you are teaching your child how to manage his or her health. It's true. Simple everyday choices like these influence not only your child's future ability to get along with others, but the level of stress he experiences from day-to-day and ultimately, his vulnerability to chronic disease.

For most of us, it's easy enough to look at the options we've just presented and see which one you "should" pick. But don't be fooled. Looking at this article on the page (or your screen) is not the same as being in the situation. What do you really want to teach your child?

Consider this. If your day-to-day choices consistently reflect comfort and convenience over what you believe is best, your child will learn to value "easiness" over nutrition, homework, dental check-ups, and taking her vitamins.

If you deny your child nearly everything he wants, he'll learn that there's not much point in trying for what he perceives as impossible. Unfortunately, he may also come to believe that most of what he wants (a decent job, to feel good, healthy relationships) is out of reach. He won't bother taking the extra steps to dress for the interview, exercise, or apologize because he figures his default position is no-win.

The smart way to cultivate self-esteem

As a wellness educator, I work with people every day who have grown up into wildly dysfunctional belief systems. Everyday folks you'd meet on the street for the most part. They don't feel good, yet they lack the basic skills and expectations necessary to create a healthy lifestyle. Things like the sense of self-worth that comes from being generous with others or the confidence that comes from successfully meeting a head-on challenge. And they're paying the price with their health.

How have you consciously explored the values you're passing on to your child? Even as we speak, those values are creating his or her future state of health. It may sound intimidating at first, but the reality isn't so complicated. When in doubt, just start with yourself. The health guide, Transform Stress Into Power offers insight into 6 Wellness Opportunities that can empower your family to better health.

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