There are lots of things that kids don’t have control over; however, they do have control over their own bodies.  Knowing when to push your kids and when not to can be essential to teaching them autonomy and limit push back.

Know when not to push - Keep Calm and Let Go
Teaching kids autonomy and allowing them some control over important choices can limit push back now and later in life.

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Kids really don’t have very many choices.  How can we as parents make sure that they are set up to make the best choices over their lifetime without pushing them away from healthy choices.

We have to teach them autonomy.  They have to have some form of choices in their daily lives.  We  have to teach them healthy choices and options.

Obviously we have to push about some things like brushing their teeth and taking a bath.  However, we can still offer choices most of the time.  Like what kind of toothbrush/toothpaste do they want or what soap scent they want to use.

When it comes to healthy living choices it can be a struggle to give them choices without pushing them too hard.  Pushing too hard can backfire to the point that they push back and refuse to follow the rules that we have set later in their life.

I don’t know about you, but I know for myself if someone says that I can’t do something that I want to do I push back and am more determined than ever to do that exact thing.

I’ve witnessed the same thing with my kids.  Especially from Kitty with our latest vegan eating endeavor.  She’s literally said “Enough with this vegan stuff mommy.”  And when asked if she likes something asked “Is it vegan?”  My answer, avoid the question.

It’s funny because we ate some veggie burgers with fruit the other night and she said it was so yummy and she was just glad it wasn’t vegan cause it had cheese on it.  It was vegan, my son just looked at me and I just shook my head.  What she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.

I do offer her options as to what she eats, we also discuss nutrition often, and I don’t fuss about what my kids eat when we are out.

All of this is to limit the push back both now and later in life.  I want my children to be educated about what they eat and do as well as why.  I want them to be able to make the best possible decisions for themselves.  I also don’t want them to go feel the need to push back once they’re adults and go to a fully fast food diet as a result of being forced to eat healthy as kids.

In another example with my oldest daughter was going to the gym to lift weights.  However, she has said that she was only truly doing this because she felt pressured to do it.

It’s time to back off.  I don’t want her to feel pressured to be healthier.  We have endless discussions about health and wellness, fitness and nutrition.  She’s 14 and knows more than most of her friends combined because of these discussions.

So is she going back to not doing anything?  No, she wants to try out boxing instead.  So for Christmas she got a kickboxing stand, gloves, and videos.

We also try to do things like going to the park and walking the dogs when the weather is nice.

Overall it’s about knowing your children.  You need to know when they are going to push back and be ready to offer them choices.  Sometimes it’s even about little white lies (like the cheeseburger).

So here are some choices that can be offered to kids to increase autonomy and decrease push back:

  • Let them choose the fruits and veggies that they eat.
    • Try some new fruits and veggies frequently.
  • Set rules that they have to eat a fruit or vegetable with each meal or snack.
  • Limit sweets, but don’t completely ban them.
  • Let them choose a game to play.
    • If it’s something inactive change the rules to make it more active.
  • Go on family outings.
    • Let them choose the park to go play at.

Unfortunately, we parents are always going to have some push back from our kids, but we can minimize it by giving them choices and letting them have some control.

Have you experienced push back from your kids?  Any tips that you can share on how you’ve minimized this?  Share in the comments below.

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