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Keep'er Fit

Gary Wallace

The Child, The Family and Me (Part 3)

In the first part of this series we looked at your own health and well-being and how we should remember to ‘put our own oxygen mask on before helping others.’

Last week was our chance to explore the child. What are they going through and how can be become more aware in our thoughts and actions to help them develop?

This week we are going to merge our two pervious articles together and look at the family.

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This article isn’t just for parents, it’s for anyone who can play a positive role in a child’s life. It could be a brother, sister, gran or granny, your friend’s children, a teacher or coach.

It doesn’t matter about the role you play; you can be that child’s ‘One Good Adult’.

The concept of ‘One Good Adult’ is to emphasise the importance of a dependable adult who can support and protect the mental well-being of a young person.

The presence of One Good Adult has been found to be a key indicator of how well a young person copes with their struggles.

We would automatically think that a child’s parent is their ‘One Good Adult’ but sadly that’s not always the case.

When I run coach education courses I always tell the coaches that we don’t really know every child’s background or what home they are coming from. But what we can do is be a positive role model, we can be their One Good Adult.

I was very fortunate to have more than One Good Adult in my life growing up.

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I’m even more blessed to have such a supportive family. As a family we are very close, it isn’t always roses but the majority of the time it’s very good and we would do anything to help and support each other.

One word which plays a huge role in my professional and personal life is ‘empathy’. Considering things from others’ point of view is a powerful way to help develop friendships, trust and understanding.

Children will copy what we as adults do. If we lead healthy, happy and actively lifestyles the there is a higher chance that a child will follow. On the other hand, if you don’t, or even worse, if you force a child to try and copy us, then there is a higher chance of having a negative effect on their own personal and physical development.

Keep repeating your healthy habits in front of your child. Tell them why you are eating healthy, going to the gym, meeting up with friends, whatever it is, take the time to explain why and if they have any questions then fantastic, it means they are engaged.

Other things to consider…

Have set times for activities

Do you have a certain time in the day or in the week when it is family time or you spend with an important person in your life? Throughout the week my son Josh and I try to keep active but every Saturday we will do at least one active activity followed by Saturday Bagels.

The activity is really just the filler for the bagels, but even sitting down sharing a bagel together gives us the opportunity to chat.

Set the phone down

This is something I have had to work on and Josh is the first to tell me. When it’s father and son time that means the phone is down. It can be hard but it is showing a level of respect and interest for what we are doing. So put the phone away for a while.

Try new things together

Exploring new places and trying something new together is a great way to bring the family and others together. During lockdown Josh and I have been learning the guitar. It’s something we can do at the same time or on our own. We have been doing Zoom classes with Matt McGlinn and I would highly recommend him. He’s got a fantastic and relaxed teaching style.

Do what they enjoy, not what you like

This is key: Josh is loving basketball and cycling at the minute so those are the activities that I try and do with him. He also loves playing the Xbox so I’ve had to teach him a few lessons on that as well. He still hasn’t beat me in a game of FIFA, so that’s something he’s going to have to earn.

Support meeting family and friends

Josh has a fantastic relationship with our next door neighbour’s boy Cillian. The two of them enjoy each other’s company.

We do have to keep giving them a gentle nudge to go outside and away from the Xbox, we have even let them set up their own YouTube Channel under the conditions that they have to film themselves being active.

I also encourage Josh to play with his little nieces and nephews, this can be a hard one for him at times as they are so young but he understands that they think he is superman and just follow his every move.

Get outdoors

For me, it doesn’t matter what you are doing, if you are outdoors you are already winning. There are so many benefits from be active or even resting outdoors.

Be a child – never give up play

Don’t think that you can’t build Lego, colour in a book or roll around the ground because you’re an adult. If anything this will benefit you just as much as the child.

Play with them at their level, be silly, jump around, use your imagination and play along with theirs. We don’t want our children to grow up so quick so why should we.

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