3. The Tools For Teaching
Although some hints were given about how to teach a child the basics of healthful living, additional mention about the ways you can use to instruct young people should be helpful. Many of the ways used to teach children are counterproductive. For example, if you punish and scold a child every time that he or she does not live up to your teachings, then the child may become increasingly rebellious and never learn the methods for a happy and long life. You are a partner in the child’s preparation for life, not his taskmaster.
How we teach a child is as important as what we teach him or her. There are four general, effective, and harmless ways that you can use to teach children about healthful living.
3.1 Teaching by Example
“Don’t do as I do; do as I say,” is a remark often used by parents when instructing their children. The truth, however, is this: if a parent wants the child to act positively and develop lifelong healthful habits, then the parent must be a strong example of this as well.
Children learn by imitation. Reasoning and logic are not yet fully developed in a young child. They learn to do things by imitating those around them. If you want your child to have healthy habits, then you must demonstrate these habits in your own life so that the child can imitate them.
You cannot tell your child to behave in a certain manner if you will not following your own strictures.
The health and well-being of a child is intimately and irrevocably linked to the health practices of the parents. Your children will only turn out as “good” as you yourself are good. You should not expect more from your children than you yourself are willing to do.
You must be an unquestionable, strong, unfailing, and dedicated exponent of healthful living practices if you want your child to adopt the same. You cannot give your children health; you must show them how to live it.
Here is what Dr. Shelton has to say about the parent as example: “Children pattern themselves after their parents as naturally and spontaneously as they eat or sleep. This is the reason that the right kind of home influences are so important. The child does what he sees his parents do and says what his parents say. See that you are a real parent and a good example for your child, and not merely an occupant at the same house with him.”
3.2 Teaching by Association
Children learn not only from their parents, but from other adults and children as well. Whenever possible, you should have your child in the company of similar health-minded people.
If a child is shown that other people besides those in his immediate family also practice healthful habits, then he will be more likely to imitate these positive actions. Finding similar-minded people, however, may be difficult for those that live in rural areas or small towns.
Your best bet is to try to visit other families that have expressed health interests similar to your own. This can be done by contacting other Life Science students who life in your area, or by getting in touch with several of the Hygienic communities or networks that exist throughout the country.
Some families who are intently serious about their well-being often find it advantageous to live in a community situation with other Hygienic families. If nothing else, it is always beneficial to live within the same locale as one or two other Hygienic families so that information can be exchanged and support given during the child-rearing years.
If these suggestions are impractical, then at least try to take a health-minded or Hygienic vacation or
trip where your child may meet other children that come from similar backgrounds.
However you approach the problem, it is vital that the child does not feel totally isolated from other people. Any type of social activity, gathering, or family events where health-minded people get together is an excellent opportunity for your child to see others practicing what you have been teaching.
Community and companionship is one of integral requirements for a healthy and productive life. You must not insulate your child from the world, but instead find some type of social situation that will promote the healthy habits that you are trying to instill.
A man may be judged by the company he keeps, but a child’s character and habits are molded by the company he is exposed to. Try to choose your friends and associates carefully so that any teachings you may give to the child are also reinforced by those around him.
3.3 Teaching by Instruction
As your child grows older, he or she may be taught the precepts of healthful living through the conventional methods of books, stories, and field trips. Although there are very few Hygienic materials written for children, there are now other children’s books that teach healthful living habits.
For example, there are now several books published on vegetarianism for children of all ages, as well as for preteens and early adolescents. There are storybooks that reinforce such teachings as kindness, consideration, fair play, and other positive values. By carefully selecting your child’s reading, you can expose him or her to some character-building ideas.
Movies and television can also be used to instruct. Much care and caution should be exercised because most commercially-produced movies and T.V. shows are simply reflections of a culture obsessed with material goods, stimulation, fast foods, money, and exploitation. There are some good children’s programs and instructional video tapes, however. Be alert for any of these in educating your child about healthful living.
Perhaps the easiest and most inexpensive way to teach by instruction is a carefully planned field trip. If you want a child to reject meat eating overnight, take them on a tour of an animal stockyard or slaughterhouse. Show them how poorly the animals are treated, and emphasize that if you don’t eat animals, such things would not occur. All children can understand and deeply sympathize with cruelty to animals. This is an extreme example, and should be used with caution so as not to shock or traumatize the child.
More positive and enjoyable field trips can be made to parks and wilderness areas. Use the opportunity to show the child how animals live in the wild, and how they take care of all their needs naturally. Encourage the child to identify with such natural living, and to enjoy the outdoors.
Another excellent field trip can be made to orchards and home gardens. Many gardens and orchards in the summer offer outsiders a chance to pick their own fresh produce. Taking your child to a fruit orchard where he can pick his own lunch from a tree will greatly excite him and educate him about man’s natural food.
Children love adventures and trips, and they needn’t be expensive or far away. By using your imagination, you can take your child to see various sights that will deeply affect and shape his mind toward healthful living habits.
Give the child beneficial, direct experiences in healthful living, and these will make a far greater impression than simply words and advice.
3.4 Your Child As Teacher
You’ve heard it said that the best way to master a subject is to teach it. So it is with kids and healthful living. After your child has learned some of the facts about healthful living habits, you should encourage him or her to share these truths with a younger brother or sister or with their friends.
You don’t want to make your child into an obnoxious brat who continually badgers people about their unhealthful habits, but you can let your child share his new knowledge with those around him.
If the child has a younger sibling, then give the older child the responsibility for teaching the younger one about healthful habits. Encourage your child to explain to his friends, and, playmates why he doesn’t eat meat or take, shots. If this can be done in a nonargumentative way, then the child will feel as if he is sharing privileged knowledge and will be eager to learn more from you.
Do be careful, though. One beautiful Hygienic girl of nine had soon convinced her entire class at school to become vegetarians and no longer eat their friends, the animals. The meat-eating parents of the other children were enraged and threatened by the young girl’s behavior, and soon forbade their children to play with her. Your child can learn by teaching, but let such experiences come naturally from the child’s desires instead of from your urgings.