Like those families where every kid plays a different instrument, and they all jam together in their spare time. Or the ones who participate in historical reenactments as a family and their children don’t hate them for it. Or… certain families whose kids happily turn down pizza in favor of paleo fare.
What’s the secret? Why do some kids accept their parents’ ‘crazy’ ideas as cool when other parents earn only withering glances for the merest suggestion?
The truth is, there are no magic wands in parenting, but there are techniques and attitudes that can help any parent minimize the amount of groaning and eye-rolling they elicit from their kids.
In this guest post, paleo blogger Leslie Klenke – whose new book Paleo Girl is a great resource for parents and girls interested in the paleo lifestyle – shares a few tips to help paleo parents keep on the cool side of their kids.
10 Power Points On Raising Healthy Strong Primal Girls Every Paleo Mom Should Know
You’re a cool mom. You pride yourself on the fact that you know every word to your daughter’s favorite songs, that your house is the place all the girls want to have slumber parties at on the weekend, and that you still haven’t leased that minivan all the other moms at soccer practice rave about. (Okay, you test-drove one a few months ago, but no one needs to know about that.) Being the coolest mom on the block doesn’t mean you have it all figured out, though—that’s a condition known in the medical community as “being human.”
So, while you were out there being Super Mom, I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 Power Points for Paleo Moms bringing up primal/paleo girls. Maybe you already implement some of these ideas in your day-to-day home life, or maybe one of these concepts brings you to that “ah-ha!” moment you’ve been waiting for:
1. Lead by example. What kinds of modifications would you like to see in your child’s lifestyle? If you’re looking for your “Mini Me” to pick up some healthy paleo habits, odds are you are already paleo yourself. Good job! But if you’re a junk food junkie, how do you expect your kid to be anything more? After all, we truly are the product of our environment.
2. Don’t put your kid down—EVER. When you’re frustrated at the mess they leave in the kitchen, what a pain in the butt they can be to get them out of bed in the morning, or the attitude they can throw your way, it’s critical to never put them down for it. (You get to be frustrated whenever you’re upset, so why are you holding your son or daughter to higher standards?) If you bombard your kid with negative chatter, that’ll become the only voice they hear in their head and they’ll never believe they can do better.
3. Upgrade the junk. If your child’s favorite foods consist of processed garbage, sodas, candy, sugary snacks, convenience foods, and so on, finding fun ways to “upgrade” their beloved toxic treats to paleo friendly nosh will be key. Their taste buds have developed a preference for these chemically altered foods, and to just abruptly decide they can’t have them anymore will feel like a punishment and make it harder to stick to for the long haul. Is your daughter a chocoholic? Introduce her to dark chocolate (70 percent or higher), or bake a batch of paleo chocolate chip cookies using Enjoy Life Mini Chips. Is your son obsessed with pizza? Make paleo pizza dough using Paleo Pizza Crust instead of wheat flour, or whip up some Zucchini Pizza bites. It should be noted I’m not endorsing a diet of “paleo junk food,” but offering your child some familiar flavors will help them not feel deprived. Always encourage your kid to try a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and let them know that they don’t have to like it, but that they have to try it!
4. Barter. Trade one week of chores for one trial week of Primal living. I’m not saying your kid needs babied or tricked into eating right, but think back to when you made the switch to paleo. How did you feel? Did you experience carb flu? Have a headache? Feel low on energy? The first few days can be tough on adults, and the same goes for kids and teens. If you truly want to see them feel empowered to make lifestyle changes on their own, give them a little breathing room with a break in their household responsibilities. It’ll make the transition smoother and the initial bribe might be all it takes for them to agree!
5. Teach your kids to cook! Knowing how to cook is a vital part of life—it’s how you’re able to take care of yourself and those who depend on you. Introduce these skills to your kid at an early age, instead of making the lesson a daunting and intimidating task their first year off to college. When your son or daughter are able to cook for themselves, it encourages them to make independent choices, and gives them a sense of accomplishment when they can see and feel improvements they’ve made in their health from their own actions.
6. Pack lunches and plan menus together. A part of teaching your kid how to cook is meal planning, prepping, and packing! Involve them in creating lunch menus for the week and organizing family dinners. Help them feel comfortable in the kitchen and teach them how to navigate the grocery. Arming your son or daughter with skills like these will be satisfying to the child, and take some of the burden off of you. (An added bonus!)
7. Make a weekly tradition. Some families have movie and pizza night. Other folks have snacks and board game night. I suggest having a Primal Night! Let the entire family collaborate on a meal they’d like to try, and cook it together. Talk about your day. Share something you’ve learned. Tell a funny joke. When the meal is ready, sit the whole family down at a real table (not parked in front of the TV) and continue the bonding time distraction free. I understand the members of your family probably have crazy, jammed packed schedules and getting everyone in the same room can be tough at times, but at the end of the day, togetherness is vital and these are the moments that really matter—so make an effort!
8. Be open. That might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often this is overlooked. Since kids and teens can sometimes have a difficult time truly conveying the way they feel, consider journaling. In a journal, they can use words and images to think critically and express their feelings, goals, dreams, likes, and so on. CAUTION: their goals should NEVER be about the scale. Teaching (or even allowing) your kid to develop an unhealthy fixation like obsessively weighing themselves at an early age will stick with them for life and can very easily turn into low self-esteem, an eating disorder, depression, or even suicide. Raise your child’s spirit and self worth with positive affirmations. If their goal is to lose weight, find healthy ways to monitor the loss, like noticing how clothes fit differently.
9. Empower your child. You are in charge of teaching your child about food, that’s not the responsibility of their school! Help them understand what the right choices are, and more importantly why the choices they make are right. Think of the classic saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” You can make healthy choices for your son or daughter while they live at home, but if you teach them how to make those healthy choices they’ll be set for life.
10. Order my new book, Paleo Girl, and read it with your daughter. Want to educate your daughter on more topics than just diet and exercise? What about sun, sleep, play, puberty, peer pressure, bullies, eating disorders, motivation, and paying it forward? All of these puzzle pieces fit together to make an awesome and complete teen! You can give your daughter (or sister, nice, cousin, granddaughter, friend, etc.) the gift of wellness. Paleo Girl is available through Primal Blueprint and other retailers.
What about boys, you ask? Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about them! My next project is a boy’s book targeted towards the teen demographic in which I will co-write with my husband (who clearly has more experience being a boy than I do!) To keep up to date on Paleo Girl and my future projects, you can find me at LeslieKlenke.com and on social media: Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
If you know a mom (or dad) who could use a little friendly support in their quest to bring up Paleo kids, please share this blog post. Buttons to the left and below. Your friends will thank you!