7 terrible habits you are unknowingly teaching your children

What kind of example are you setting for your children? If you've fallen into one or more of these terrible habits, it could be time to make a lifestyle change for the good of yourselves and your children.

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  • As your child's number one teacher and role model, you have a lot to live up to. Your children learn from you how to deal with life's trials, make healthy choices, interact with others and grow up to be responsible, civic-minded citizens.

  • No one is perfect, so it's a good idea to step back and look at what kind of example you're setting. Test yourself with this list of bad habits to see whether it's time to make a few parenting and lifestyle changes so your children can have the right type of model to pattern their lives.

  • 1. Being too self-critical

  • Good self-esteem starts with parents who model the art of appreciating yourself for who you are.

  • Instead of pointing out your flaws the next time you look in the mirror, try complimenting yourself out loud so your children hear you. The next time you achieve a goal, share your triumph with your children and celebrate with them. Then encourage them to do the same.

  • 2. Getting too attached to electronics

  • Electronics are prolific enough already in our society, and children don't need to see their parents glued to their smartphones, television and social media feeds. When you're with your children, make an effort to lay aside electronics and focus on human interaction. Instead of beating another level of Candy Crush or catching up on the week's biggest news stories, break out a board game, paint your daughter's toenails, or read a story aloud with the family.

  • 3. Gossiping about family members and friends

  • Gossiping might be one of the easiest habits to fall into, and the hardest to break. Don't set that bad example for your children. Instead, after visiting with friends or extended family members, make a goal to talk about all the fun things you did with them, compliment their homes and personalities, and save adult discussions for a time when you and your spouse are alone.

  • 4. Disrespecting your spouse

  • Showing disrespect to your spouse, even in a teasing manner, could be one of the worst habits you ever pass on to your children. Even when you think they aren't listening, your children pick up on your relationship with your spouse, and they mimic you. You'll notice it when they pretend play and even more so when they start dating. But by then, it might be too late to take years of disrespectful words and actions back.

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  • Always treat your spouse the way you'd like your children to treat their future husbands or wives. That doesn't mean you always have to agree with each other, but it does mean you're never rude or insulting in your conversations.

  • 5. Distracted driving

  • Don't get distracted. Remember your little ones are more precious to you than anything else in your life. Texting while driving, trying to eat breakfast at the stoplight and yelling or honking at other drivers are not only bad habits, but they could be dangerous for you and your children as well.

  • Pull over to write a text if it has to be done, eat at the restaurant instead of ordering food to-go and bite back your angry diatribes. Setting a good driving example now could save your child's life.

  • 6. Eating unhealthily

  • Do you eat when you're stressed or when you're sad? Do you pass the bowl of veggies down the table at dinnertime without serving yourself any? Chances are, these are habits your children are likely to fall into as well. According to WebMD, it is important to guide your family's eating choices rather than dictate the foods they eat. Encourage your children to eat slowly during mealtime and to involve them in food shopping and preparing meals with you.

  • For the good of your children and your health, be more aware of how and what you're eating. Avoid emotional eating and spoon up an extra helping of veggies at dinner. You'll be healthier and your kids will subliminally be affected by your example.

  • 7. Neglecting fitness

  • Fitness and healthy eating go hand in hand. If your children see that taking care of your body is important to you, they're more likely to be inspired to take care of themselves. According to bumblebee, it is important to set an example for your kids in developing an exercise routine. It is important to let them choose what sports or exercises they participate in so that they view exercising as something fun versus a chore.

  • It's one thing to tell children they need to go play outside. It's quite another to head out with them and kick a ball around the yard or shoot some hoops for half an hour. Even a few extra minutes of fitness activities can make a big difference to your health and the health of your children.

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  • For more ideas on how to have fun interactive family time in the sun, check out Del Sol's line of color-changing nail polish, sun glasses, t-shirts, and more.

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Katie Nielsen received her bachelor's in English with an emphasis in technical writing. She has taught English and is a published writer.

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