3 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make When It Comes to Kid’s Healthy Habits

(or lack thereof).

Ok. I’ve been holding in this blog/video for a long time now. Mostly, because I’m not a parent. So, who am I to be sharing advice on how to parent? But here’s the deal, I have been working as a nutritionist, with teenagers for the last 7 years at a private treatment center that helps kids that suffer with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other behavioral issues.

After 7 years and counseling hundreds of teens, I see patterns. And I know, that we can all learn from patterns and we can all learn from hindsight. They unfortunately, don’t come with a manual and if I can provide just a few tips and encourage you to consider some simple changes, you can create better outcomes. If you have a teenager, care for one, or have a kid who will be one soon, then you appreciate learning from the experiences of others. You get to learn from the patterns that I’ve observed over the past 7 years.

First and foremost, I want to convey that this is not a criticism. I’m sure parenting is the hardest job in the world and everyone is doing the best they can to juggle parenting, careers and other life challenges. So, I’m hoping by sharing this that someone will be able to take a wider lens view of how they may be able to positively impact their kid’s health and wellbeing.

This is my compilation of the 3 biggest mistakes I see many parents make. These families span all kinds of backgrounds, wealthy, not wealthy, educated and from different cultures. You can watch the video to hear more, but here they are laid out briefly:

Kids nutrition should not be left up to their whims.
I can’t tell you the number of kids that eat whatever they want, whenever they want and their parents provide no guidance, no guidelines and many times, don’t prepare meals for their kids. Kids skip meals, mainly breakfast, eat junk at school, order Ubereats at dinner and are expected to perform well in school? Your kids nutrition is your responsibility. I’m happy to offer more tips in future videos, if you want. Please leave a comment for more.

Your kids are going to pick up on your obsessive behaviors.
So, please stop. Kids are watching your every move. They see you weighing yourself obsessively and using this as a guidepost of success or failure, they watch as you restrict food or use exercise as punishment. They hear you call yourself fat and talk about how many calories are in the dessert that you refuse. Being fit and healthy is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. But obsessing to the point of disordered eating, restricting and/or body image issues is not healthy. Not for you, and not for your kids (especially your daughters who have enough societal pressure to look a certain way). I know changing habits is very difficult but replacing them with healthier, confidence building ones is worth the work for you and your children.

Lack of family dinnertime/meals.
I always ask my clients what dinnertime looks like at home. It blows my mind at the amount of kids that are allowed to take their food and go to their room to eat. Or, everyone in the family takes their food and scatters into different rooms, mostly in front of screens. Family dinnertime is so important when it comes to building healthy eating habits and socialization skills. Healthy habits don’t just include nutrition. Healthy habits include digestion, feeling relaxed, supported and loved. Screens rob you and your kids of bonding and just pull them deeper and deeper into social media pressures, anxiety from dreadful news cycles and gaming. Self confidence is a priceless gift you can give yourself as an adult and build upon as a child, you and your kids are worth it. Please establish mealtimes together. Scheduling can be challenging for busy families but it is one of those things that I so highly recommend. It was mandatory in my house growing up and when I look back, it’s what keeps family feeling like a  family.

I hope this was helpful. My work with my clients is all about changing the way they show up in their lives; to feel confident inside and out.  Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.