6. Questions & Answers
What should you do when you discover your child going against the teachings you gave him? My youngest son who is twelve has been chewing tobacco with his friends.
The best reaction is to be unemotional and logical when you talk to your child about such a problem. By the age of ten or so, you can start treating your child as an adult. You tell him that he alone will have to take full responsibility for his actions, and that if he suffers or becomes sick because of his habits, then it is his fault. Many people, both adults and children, indulge in destructive habits because they do not understand the eventual outcome, or they believe that the evil they do may be undone by medicines, doctors, or other treatments. If your child fully understands that he alone is responsible for his health and happiness or sickness and misery, then he may act more responsibly.
All children experiment with “bad” habits that they may pick up from their peers. If you do not overreact (which is what the child is sometimes seeking), then the habit may be dropped. Incidentally, children often do just the opposite that is told them in order to get some sort of attention. Show no outward concern and worry, but make sure that you increase the amount of love and attention you give a child that is indulging in bad habits. This positive reinforcement, instead of a negative and emotional outburst, will impress the child and lead him back to the healthful habits that you have taught.
I became interested in health after my children were in school. It’s hard to get them to change to my new life.
Why should you expect your children to make a change that took you twenty years longer to do? The people who first realize the truth about health may be the blindest when it comes to accepting the shortcomings of others.
The approach to take when this occurs is to make all of your new healthful habits part of your old lifestyle. Children distrust and fear radical changes in their parents, and it may confuse or repel them. They may react so negatively to these changes in a parent that they will overindulge in destructive habits, as a way of asserting their own independence from the parent.
The best way to handle this is to try to get the entire family involved in your new healthful lifestyle. Let them discover the advantages of healthful living along with you, instead of you presenting it to them. Involve them with your hew lifestyle, diet, and exercise program. Let them help plan the meals, exercise along with you, and just be generally a part of an exciting new adventure in health.
At this stage, it is important to emphasize the positive sides of this lifestyle, and not dwell upon the old negative habits. For example, instead of telling your children that there will be no more candy in the house, tell them that you will be getting delicious dried fruit, dates, raisins, and nuts for them as a snack. In other words, always make the child believe that healthful habits mean more fun, more life, and more things to do. Don’t make health a “negative” experience by telling the child he can’t eat that or he mustn’t do this or he shouldn’t act this or that way.
Children react strongly to positive, new changes. If you present your new lifestyle as a way of having more fun instead of denying old pleasures, then the children will follow you gladly.
The only problem I’ve had in teaching my child is that he doesn’t want to be different from his playmates. He can’t understand why he can’t have a “Kool-Aid” sales stand or eat candy bars, and he doesn’t like the kids making fun of his lunches.
You will have to be more creative. You can make your child “candy” from various dried fruits, or suggest that he sell fresh fruit juices instead of junk beverages with the kids. Invite his friends over to lunch some day and go all out for a great Hygienic meal.
Don’t let your child become isolated because of his healthful habits. Encourage him to play with his friends, regardless of their differences, and make sure you give him enough support when he needs it. Also, try to anticipate any situations that may make your child feel uncomfortable, and do your best to smooth the way.
Every child, at some time or the other, will be teased for being different in some way. If you remain supportive and demonstrate unreserved love for the child, then such situations will not be harmful.