November 9th, 2008 Posted by David Lemberg
We are constantly searching the landscape for heroes, not to fill in a missing piece in ourselves, but rather to be a cause of inspiration, stimulation, and motivation. Even those of us who are self-starters, self-motivators, need coaches and mentors to cause us to reach ever-higher levels of achievement.As the old saying goes, “any doctor who has himself for a patient is an idiot”.
We all need support. We all need guidance. We all need fresh perspectives.
Children, in particular, need guidance. Kids need rules. Kids need structure.
Kids are like dogs. They want to be trained. And they will faithfully follow the training set out for them by their chosen leaders, whether that training is explicit or implicit.
Usually, a child’s parents are her leaders or role models. Other relatives, teachers, peers, and older kids may also be leaders and role models.
Let’s consider parents, relatives, and teachers – the adults in a kid’s environment. In America, one-third of all adults are obese. An additional one-third of adults are overweight. Almost one-half of American adults do not do any vigorous physical activity. Three-quarters of adults do not get enough physical activity to meet public health recommendations
The awful bottom line is that the majority of Americans are out-of-shape and overweight or obese. These adults are the role models for their kids.
The result is one-third of American children are overweight or obese. Juvenile diabetes is an epidemic that is spreading year-over-year. Type 2 diabetes, previously rare in young people, is now a commonly recognized diagnosis in kids. Hypertension is increasing in prevalence in teenagers.
Additionally, studies demonstrate that almost two-thirds of American kids aged 9 through 13 do not participate in any organized physical activity during nonschool hours. Twenty-five percent do not engage in ANY free-time physical activity.
We’re in the midst of a healthcare disaster. The apocalypse is happening now.
Kids mimic the habits of their parents or other significant adults. If the adults eat cheeseburgers and fries three times a week, so will the kids. If the adults eat fried chicken and biscuits three times a week, so will the kids. If adults don’t eat fresh fruits and vegetables, neither will the kids.
If kids see their parents putting on more and more weight, they will put on more and more weight.
If adults spend no time exercising, neither will the kids.
Luckily, the converse is also true, and this is where parents can become heroes to their kids - literally, saving their kids’ lives.
If kids see their parents choosing healthy behaviors and being positive and supportive about doing so, kids will begin to choose those healthy behaviors, too. If kids see their parents losing weight, they will begin to lose weight, too. If kids see their parents exercising and becoming active, they will too.
Let’s start to teach our kids that exercise can be fun. Strength training, aerobic exercise, core exercises can all be incorporated into family games and fitness activities.
Let’s start to teach our kids that healthy eating can be fun – nurturing as well as nutritious. Shopping, cooking, and mealtimes can all become key components of a healthy family lifestyle.
All children need the love and support and guidance of the important adults in their lives. It’s up to us, those important adults, to really BE the role models kids so desperately need and want.
As adults, we can name our heroes. Abraham Lincoln. Martin Luther King. John F. Kennedy. Rosa Parks. Nelson Mandela. Winston Churchill. Emily Dickinson. Marie Curie. . . .
When our children name their heroes, let’s ensure we are on that list.
Let’s take pride in making ourselves be the best heroes we can be for our kids. The world, after all, will be in their hands very soon.