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My son, Elliot once told me that he didn’t want to grow up. He said, “I don’t want to be a kid in school my whole life, but I definitely don’t want to be an adult.” I asked what he meant and he responded, “Well, first you have to get a job you hate and then you don’t get to do anything you want to do.” I of course asked him to clarify, to which he said something like this:

“Well, you and dad complain about work all the time and you both say you never get to do things you want. Like, you say you wish you could hang out with friends and family more and go play soccer and dad wishes he could play guitar more. So, why can’t you?”

It wasn’t long after this conversation with Elliot that I signed up for soccer again and started my journey to follow my passions and purpose. That one conversation was a defining moment in my life. One that changed my course and has now changed many others as well. Elliot’s comment to me became part of an important lesson for my clients. Some of my favorite clients are the ones that say things like this:

“I wish I could do more of what I want but I don’t have time.”
“I want to be healthier but it’s so hard.”
“I have always wanted to try that, but I don’t have time or money.”

Most of my clients say they don’t have time or money because they have kids. If you can relate, I ask you this…how will they ever learn to follow their dreams if they don’t know what it looks like? How will they learn to move their body and exercise if no one shows them how? How will they ever be empowered to eat healthy and nourish themselves if their own parents don’t? How will they learn to be happy and positive if the ones teaching them are crabby and negative?

We all want the best for our kids and one of the best things you can do as a parent is to show your kids what it means to be happy and healthy. Stop telling and start showing. Set an example by making time to care for yourself and do the things that feed your soul. If you lead, they will follow.

Here are some things you may be teaching your kids that you don’t even realize:

That they are fat and ugly.

When you complain about your weight, your wrinkles, or your body in general…you are teaching your children to do the same. I remember one morning my son came in my room all upset and said, “Mom, I am fat.” I responded, “Elliot, no you aren’t! What would you think that?” He said, “Mom, my pants don’t fit and when yours don’t fit you say you are fat.” Elliot simply grew into the next size pants. That was such an important lesson for me to be mindful of what I was saying about myself. We need to honor and love our bodies so our kids do the same.

That they can’t follow their dreams.

When you say “ugh I have to work”, “I hate my job” you are teaching your kids that when they grow up they will have to get a job they hate and will be miserable. If you are in a job that you don’t like, learn to love what is right now while you work towards what you want. Talk about all the great things your job is providing. Teach your child about what you do so they can be proud and have a role model to look up to.

That marriage and having kids is stressful, hard, and expensive.

When you do more fighting and less loving, you aren’t teaching your child what a loving relationship looks like. Their guide to what a healthy relationship looks like will come from fairytales and romance movies. When you complain about how expensive things are or how stressful life is, you can expect your child to grow up with lessmotivation anddesire. Who wants to grow up and be stressed?! If you are struggling in your relationship, teach your child how to work through it. If you are struggling with finances, teach your child how to manage money. If life is stressful, find better healthier ways to cope like meditation, exercise, spiritual practice, and positive thinking.

That they need to compare themselves to others.
Be careful of what you say when asking your child about their day at school or sports. So many of us say things like, “How did you do in your game or presentation?” and then after our child responds we say, “Well, how did everyone else do?” STOP DOING THIS! Focus on your child and your child only. When you ask about the other kids, you are teaching them to judge themselves based on others. Love your child for who they are and the only person they need to compare themselves to is themselves.
That if they don’t start on the team, get A’s, and have a lot of friends then they aren’t good enough
Your child does not need to be the star player or the starter or the one with the most points to be awesome. Your child does not need straight A’s to have worth. Your child does not a lot of friends to be succeeding at life. Your child is awesome because they are. It’s that simple. Your child is your child…and that in itself is enough. Your child is a miracle. Your child is amazing because they are. PLEASE stop doing this. In my classes now, I have educated adults that have false beliefs that they are failing my class in some way or that they aren’t good enough because of messages they were given when they were younger from parents, teachers, and society. You don’t need trophies and medals. Sports is about playing for fun, connecting with friends, and competing with yourself. School is about learning and a grade does not define you. And friends is about quality – not quantity.