So we all the know the old adage that it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks, right? Basically it is saying we need to start the training and the habit forming at a young age. I know I find it hard now to break bad habits or start good new ones at my age and I am still pretty young at only 33 yrs old. I decided I wanted to do things a bit differently and start her on a path of healthy habits while she is young. Adding healthy food has been a bit difficult and breaking the sweet tooth as well. I think this might be genetic as I and my husband both love our desserts. This is still a work in progress but I started on a couple other healthy habits: taking a daily vitamin and oral care.
First, we started with the teeth brushing. This was a bit easy because Bree loves to watch what we do and say and follow along. When she sees mommy brush her teeth, Bree also wanted to try this out. Bree also loves Peppa Pig so we had a Peppa Pig electric toothbrush and toothpaste. She got excited just to hold something Peppa. I would brush her teeth every night to show her how and then let her try to do it herself. We made a routine out of it and a time for us to do something together and for her to do something adult like me. Gradually it got to the point where she would ask on her own to brush her teeth. It became an exciting habit. I then gradually started to let her take this over completely and she brushes her teeth on her own every night right along side me. She started trying to "spit" just like me and also clean her toothbrush off at the end. I am so happy that this menial little hygienic habit has become an exciting and fun experience. She continues to ask to brush her teeth every night. I found a pack of Peppa Pig manual toothbrushes that she uses every night to keep the excitement going. Hey, if she is going to have a sugar tooth she might as well have good oral hygiene to make up for it!
We also started getting Bree used to taking a vitamin. It has become a daily ritual that when she gets up she asks for her milk and vitamin. I remember taking a vitamin when I was a kid. I had the Flintstone vitamins and loved them. I bought Bree the Walmart brand and she gets half of one a day. I know she loves the taste of them and probably thinks it is just a yummy treat but every time she gets one I remind her that these are to make her healthy and strong.
Besides her vitamin, she is really good about eating her fruit. We have a fruit cup alot in the morning or as a snack, eat some applesauce, and make sure we drink alot of milk to keep bones healthy for a growing little girl. I praise her when she makes healthy food choices. For her snacks, she is usually the one choosing (because she says "Aubrey do it" and it is the kind of battle I don't want to fight, and it WILL be a fight). I try to offer the food choices and I will veto any choices at bad times or when she has had too many bad foods. She likes to be praised for doing good things, like any animal or human or would want, and so it continues to encourage her to make those smart, healthier choices. Bree is at this stage where she is trying to see what she can be independent with and I am trying to encourage some of that independence.
We are constantly trying and growing. She is trying and growing as a person and I am trying and growing as a parent. Not everything will work for either one of us. We both have to give in a little, even though I as an adult have the ability to rationalize that and Bree is only able to act on her emotions. We all have to praise the small victories. These daily vitamins and the daily excitement of the teeth brushing are 2 small victories worth praising.