2013-01-03 / Community

Exposing children to a ‘wellness lifestyle’

Cathy Kaltz Cathy Kaltz This is a tough one because in order for kids to develop a wellness lifestyle, they must be exposed to the proper role models in their lives. There are more and more programs out there and online that introduce proper nutrition, portion control, healthy snacks and there are after school sports and activities to keep them fit, but what about the rest of the Wellness Wheel? What about character development?

A child needs to learn these things and start practicing these skills early in order to make them a permanent part of their personal growth and wellness. They need constant positive reinforcement, to have hands-on experiences, and to feel good enough about themselves and their beliefs that they are well equipped to handle peer pressure.

Kids learn better and are more motivated when they are a part of the program – they need a choice and a voice in what’s happening. If they think it’s their idea they will be much more open to accepting what is being offered. Make it fun and they will look forward to learning new things. There are so many role models in your child’s life – parents, teachers, neighbors, babysitters, grandparents, just to name a few, and we all have a profound effect on children whether we know it or not.

If we create learning situations that are part of real life, that kids can actually relate to, they will be much more interested than if we just tell them something and expect it to stick. If we encourage our kids to be mentally and emotionally involved in the learning process they will become more and more motivated to learn independently and will develop positive attitudes toward learning. Most kids hear what you say; some kids do what you say, but most kids do what you do!

I am proposing a project for you to try with your own children or in your classroom. This project will work best for kids ages 5-6 and up. Each week or month, assist your child in choosing a word from the list below:

Respect, Honesty, Responsibility, Compassion, Commitment, Love, Wisdom, Health, Humor, Cooperation, Acceptance, Appreciation, Courage, Creativity, Environmental Awareness, Freedom, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Truthfulness, Gratitude, Generosity, Loyalty, Friendship, Understanding, Citizenship, Joy, Trustworthiness, Pride, Sharing, Caring, Fairness, Imagination, Sensitivity, Self-Responsibility, Connection.

Have your child print the word in large letters and post in various locations as a reminder. Together, look up and discuss the meaning of the word and share examples of situations when the wood would be demonstrated or used. Do not proceed until you are sure your child understands the definition.

Over the course of the week or month, demonstrate the word in your everyday life and encourage the child to do so also. Whenever you witness your child putting the word to use, recognize his efforts in a big way, I mean really make a big deal of it and mention the word often in your praise.

You could even together create a poster size “Get well card” where you could add stickers or stars. At the end of the week or month, ask your child to give you three examples of instances when he witnessed this word in action and three examples when he himself demonstrated this characteristic. If you both feel you have a good understanding of the concept of the word, choose another word and start over.

This is an “adjusted” version of a four year program developed by sandy Queen and is used in schools in Maryland. For more information you can contact her at: 5439 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, MD 21044; by calling (443) 812-6853 or email sjqueen@verizon.net.

Remember grandparents teach too. Go to grandparentsteachtoo.org for lots of information, articles and activities for grandparents and grandkids to do together.

If you are interested in a possible after school workshop based on this concept, please contact me at (906) 286-0985.

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You can reach Cathy Kaltz, Certified Worksite Wellness Specialist, at (906) 286-0985.

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