One of the things I love about my family is that we take regular walks together around our neighborhood.
It’s been during these walkabouts over the years that I’ve noticed three traits in our kids that my wife and I have tried to correct when they manifest.
Anybody who has walked with a toddler knows that they want to stop and look at every stone, sidewalk crack, bug and dried worm that might catch their little eye.
These constant side excursions often turn what should have been a brief 15 minute walk into a protracted hour-long shuffle that only managed to go 500 feet beyond our front yard.
I’m not talking about stopping to smell the flowers – that’s completely fine and encouraged. I’m referring to the times when the kids are distracted by something at every step. As parents, we strive to redirect them back to the main purpose of our walk and to keep moving forward.
As the kids have gotten older they have come to enjoy and anticipate our regular constitutionals as a family. However, while my wife and I hold hands – walking at a reasonable pace – our girls tend to sprint to the corner far ahead of us where they wait until we arrive to cross the street.
Once we arrive at the corner and cross together, the sprinting separation scenario repeats.
While that type of exercise and exertion is great, we try to remind the girls that we like to stick together on our walks and enjoy each other’s company.
Additionally, when they do jet ahead of us with the speed of Usain Bolt we encourage them to temper their energy with caution.
Family walks are no fun, when one of the participants has to be carried home or limps back to the house in tears from a skinned knee.
This final attribute is perhaps the most troubling to see manifested in youngsters and preteens. We haven’t really seen it yet in our own girls other than an occasional eye roll from our oldest when we announce the departure for our semi-nightly outings.
However, we really notice this attitudinal phenomena when we see other families walking. The parents might be pushing a baby in a stroller with an elementary-age schooler walking next to it while a preteen trails fair behind the pack.
If you didn’t know the family, you would easily assume the stragler wasn’t part of the group.
To try and forestall this attitude in our kids we reinforce the fact that we’re all on the walk together – we started it as a team and we’ll finish it as a team. In fact, one of our self-dubbed monikers for our clan is Team Constantino.
Not Just Kids
The ironic thing about these three observed attributes is that as I write this, I’m mindful of the fact that I’m not immune to displaying the traits of distraction, impatience and apathy myself.
It’s always easier to correct bad behavior in others than it is in ourselves. But that’s one of the other things I love about having a family.
They serve as a bi-directional feedback loop for me.
When I call our kid’s attention to a particular behavior that needs adjustment – such as cleaning up their respective rooms – I had better be able to receive back the same critique myself if my own conduct dips below our communal expectations.
Our young ones need to see my wife and I practice what we preach so we don’t come across as hypocritical blowhards regarding the little and big things in life.
None of us are perfect, but I’m truly grateful and blessed to have my family on this journey of life to help us keep each other on track.
Question: Have you seen similar traits manifested in your kids? Is there a favorite activity that you do with your family?