Kids mimic their parents and because they do, it is likely that if parents live a sedentary lifestyle, so too will their children. Even before babies can speak, they watch their moms and dads intently, always observing.
A study conducted by Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine illustrates just how much children hone in a certain behaviors of parents. Over 120 children from the age of three to six were among the study group. Dolls were used to role-play. In this one scenario, a researcher gave the children one doll and kept the other. Asking the children to pretend they were one of the dolls, they were told they were going to spend an evening watching TV. When the researcher commented there was nothing to eat, the children were asked to go shopping. Out of the products purchased, 28 per cent of the children bought cigarettes and 74 per cent purchased alcohol.
Startling? Yes. This scenario was implemented to show that kids do in fact observe their parents and mimic not only what they do but copy their habits as well.
One can certainly make the claim that children who live in a home where diet and exercise are non-existent, children will not learn the importance of exercise and proper nutrition, as they grow older.
Let’s assume for a moment that a different study was utilized. For example, let’s take these same 120 children who are growing up in a home where mom and dad exercise often, consume healthy snacks when watching TV and are void of any “bad” habits their children may copy. When asked to go shopping, what do you suppose they will purchase? Odds are it will be popcorn, fruits and other healthy snacks.
Although the aforementioned study was based on smoking and alcohol use among parents and the effects on children, it does bring home the point that children do mimic their parents in many ways. Even the most subtle and seemingly harmless event is captured in the mind’s eye of the child because they want to be like Mommy or Daddy.
If parents live a lifestyle that is healthy, their children will mimic this behavior and grow up to live a healthy lifestyle as well. The evidence is clear. Learned behavior starts from the moment a child is able to make the connection. Monkey see monkey do is a literal and viable recourse for children who cannot make the rational distinction between what is good and what is bad.