Authored by Adrienne Gallant, Let’s Go! Knox County Coordinator
A couple of months ago, I was feeling under the weather. I was forced to stay upstairs in my room secluded from the rest of my family so as not to contaminate them with my germs. My throat was feeling awful and my stomach wasn’t so great either. I did what many people do when they’re sick. I drank a can of ginger ale. My daughter, who is almost seven, saw the empty can (along with a cup of tea and a glass of water) on my bedside table and exclaimed “Mommy, we don’t drink soda in our house! It’s not healthy!” She was quite appalled at the thought that I was drinking something that she knows is not the best option for our bodies. She hears me talk with families, childcare providers, teachers and community members all the time about healthy eating as part of my job as the Let’s Go! Coordinator for Knox County. Her exclamation made me smile because I knew she was listening but it reinforced the fact that she is also watching. She is not the only child who watches what the adults in her life are saying and doing. So many children have caregivers in their lives (mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, babysitters) who make choices everyday about how they are going to act. In many cases, the lessons being taught to the child and the actions displayed by the adults are contradictory.
In Knox County, where I live, the schools, childcares, healthcare professionals and after school programs are doing an incredible job with teaching the children they come into contact with about making healthy eating and physical activity choices. For the most part, the adults running these programs are also modeling healthy behaviors in front of the children. These adults often are trying to find new ways to improve their own behaviors to help encourage healthy choices in the children and the parents they come into contact with.
Children watch and learn from what they see adults doing. A child who learns at school that it’s important to get away from the television, get plenty of physical activity and not drink soda will feel confused when they go home and see their parents sitting in front of the television drinking sugary beverages. A parent’s actions and attitudes (positive or negative) towards healthy choices can have an impact on the health related choices children in their lives make now and in the future.
For more information on healthy eating, physical activity and being a healthy role model to the children in your life, check out our Parent Resource Page.