5 Ways to Raise Natural Children

5 Ways to Raise Natural ChildrenAs your children get older and venture out into the world, making their own decisions, you wonder if they will adhere to the values you taught them at home—especially when it comes to living a natural lifestyle. “Will they choose the fruit over the ice cream?” or “Will he remember how to treat his headache without Tylenol?” are the types of questions we ask ourselves when one moves out of the home. Training our children to choose this lifestyle needs to begin at the beginning—from the time they are little children. Following are 5 ways to do that.

1. First Foods

God has provided the perfect food for babies in mother’s milk and that is all they need for the first half year of life. According to the La Leche League International (LLLI) website:  Human milk is the only food that healthy, full-term babies need for about the first six months of life. Human milk provides immunity factors for as long as the baby nurses, and many of the health benefits of breastfeeding continue well into childhood and beyond…. Most solid foods are lower in calories than human milk, of lower nutritional value, and can be difficult for young babies to digest. Introduced early, they can cause unpleasant reactions and even trigger allergies. These problems can be avoided by waiting until your baby is ready for solids.

However, it is what your child is fed after mother’s milk that shapes a child’s tastes for the future. The LLLI recommends soft fruits and mashed vegetables to start. Avoid introducing processed foods of any kind for as long as you can. Sugary treats, especially, should be avoided. Babies do not need any kind of beverage other than mother’s milk and water. Putting sugary drinks into a bottle, or starting a child off on puddings and ice cream is asking for trouble down the road. If you want your five year old to eat his vegetables, you must introduce those vegetables to him from the beginning.

2. Gardening

Children are natural gardeners. They love to play in the dirt. They are fascinated by watching a seed sprout into a little plant or an earthworm squirm when you hold him in your hand. And what child can resist eating green beans as he picks them? In his book Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv identifies a phenomenon found in children that he’s coined as “nature-deficit disorder.” He shares that the lack of nature in children’s lives is a direct cause of such things as childhood obesity, attention disorders, and depression. Who needs any other reason to share a garden with a child? But if you do not want them wreaking havoc in your garden, give them a little plot of their own. Give them seeds and potting soil and containers if you don’t have a large enough piece of earth. Just teach them to love the garden early so that when you need the potatoes hoed a few years down the line, they will volunteer to do it.

3. Animals

If you eat meat, teach your children where it comes from. Give them animals to care for. If you live in the suburbs, try a few meat rabbits. Stress that they are not cute little bunnies; but that they are rabbits for the stew pot. If you do not know how to raise animals for meat yourself, find a 4-H club and get your children involved. Visit small farms where animals are raised naturally and organically. Also visit large commercial operations and discuss the differences between the two. Ask them, “Which chickens would you rather eat?” To find a 4-H club in your area, call your county’s Cooperative Extension Office.

4. Cooking

Teach your children to cook. My youngest has been scrambling his own eggs (with supervision) since he was five. My ten year old is responsible for making lunch for those of us at home during the day. Children love to cook. Start with a children’s cookbook if you need to. Just teach them, boys included, to accomplish this basic task. Certainly it’s easier to just get the job done yourself. But, as Barbara Frank says in her new book Thriving in the 21st Century, “It’s been a long time since I had flour-covered toddlers in my kitchen. But it was worth all the messes and chaos to see them as more-than-competent cooks now.” Let them experiment, and no matter what, eat what they prepare.

5. Cleaning products

Several recent studies have linked pesticides with Parkinson’s disease. Discuss this fact with your children. Research the effects of other toxic chemicals on the body. Then, if you do not do so already, obtain some recipes for natural cleaning and pest control products and have them mix them up for you. Chances are they will want to try them out for themselves, too. What a sneaky way to get the counters scrubbed.

Living the natural life as a family is the best way to teach it to our children. So by consistently modeling what we them want to do as they grow older, we are raising natural children without even thinking about it.


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