Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Baby and Modeling

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As my wife (Kasey) and I prepare for our first run at parenthood, we anxiously wait for our little girl (Ainsley) to join our family. Knowing the last trimester will zoom by, the honey-do list is growing rapidly with nursery projects, shopping, financial planning, etc.
Aside from the tangible necessities of preparing for a baby, we are often discussing the intangibles of parenthood. I’m a firm believer that it is up to us as parents to mold our children in a positive fashion. The easiest way to do this in my eyes is to role model the behavior and habits we want our children to replicate. Respect, manners, education, friendliness, self-confidence, work ethic and family values are a few behaviors we will need to teach her. Additionally, we must make practicing healthy nutrition and physical activity habits a priority...

As it is now, we have pretty healthy nutrition habits. Ainsley will be exposed to a variety of healthy foods – on some level she won’t know any difference other than to have a healthy balance of “everyday” and “sometimes” foods. Kasey and I are also big fans of dedicating dinner time to the kitchen table. I don’t know if you can measure the benefits of this practice, but something good must come from that family bonding time! Known as portion distortion, people often try to eat everything put in front of them – or as parents we require our kids to eat everything on their plate. One thing I want to focus on is to not make her clear her plate. Now, I do believe in teaching her the value of eating enough food during meal time, but want to make sure I have a good gauge of her fullness versus her stubbornness.

Physical activity is probably what I look forward to most with Ainsley and Kasey (and of course our dog Cali). Although Cali and I frequent trips through the neighborhood on a skateboard, I don’t think Kasey will approve of this practice with Ainsley anytime in the next… say 18 years. So Cali and I will likely progress from trips in the wagon, to walking, to bicycling over the next 5 years so we can include Ainsley. Also, I’m a big fan of just spending time outside with no agenda. Kids have such great imaginations; I like the idea of just going outdoors and encouraging her creativeness to grow. Growing up playing sports, I plan to introduce Ainsley to a variety of competitive and non-competitive sports. Aside from the physical benefits of play, I think play promotes a unique opportunity for social development.

Although completing the nursery is a priority now, positive role modeling is a priority for life! I feel very strongly that environment influences behavior. It is our duty as parents to be cognizant of the influences we have on our children … and the neat thing is, we get to build that environment as parents and as a family.

“Children’s work is play” – John Krampitz, PhD.

Written by Chad Misner, BA
Research Associate