The secret to healthy kids can be found through a whole-person approach to the needs of your child.  By addressing the emotional, relational, physical, and spiritual needs of children, parents are able to provide a balanced, caring environment that contributes to lifelong happiness and health.

I call this helping a child to SOAR.  As parents, we must strive to allow our children to grow up in an environment where they are provided with intentional guidance, assured of a bright future as they grow, an active plan where they can achieve success, and an understanding of their personal responsibilities.  And the first “S” in SOAR is all about support.

How do you help someone?  What form does support take?  How do you know if what you’re offering is really what the other person needs?  Even if it’s needed, how do you know if this is the right time to offer it?

Saying you will offer support is one thing; having that support accepted and utilized is another.  The support you provide for SOAR must be both accepted by your family and utilized by each member.  Therefore, we need to consider the kind of support you’ll be giving and how to offer that support in order to have the highest chance of it being accepted and utilized.

A healthy life through SOAR is of benefit to everyone and is not meant as a punishment for being overweight, inactive, or unhealthy.  How your support is packaged is important.  If it is wrapped in condemnation, frustration, disappointment, or criticism, it’s no gift.  Your child and your family need to integrate healthy habits, behaviors, and lifestyle; these are good things.  You don’t want to package these good things so they appear bad and are rejected.

Listen to Luke 11:11-12: “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?”  You’re probably thinking, If my child asked for an egg, of course I wouldn’t give him a scorpion!  Two perspectives, however, should be considered — yours and your child’s.

Unfortunately, in our desperation for change and frustration over past failures, we can cloak our good intentions — our fish — in critical, demanding camouflage that causes them to look more like snakes.  Is it any wonder, then, that our good intentions are rebuffed?  This only makes us more critical and frustrated.  We think, What’s wrong with that person?  Why did he turn down my fish?  The way he reacted, you’d think I’d tried to give him a snake! 

Motivating your family to accept positive, healthy changes is no different.  You’ve already determined that your family needs these fish and eggs; make sure you don’t present them as snakes and scorpions!  Support for SOAR needs to come through the positive components of stability, love, and acceptance, not through desperation, criticism, and frustration.

Take a moment to think about your pattern for providing direction and instruction to your family.  How do you frame your comments?  Are they focused on negative behavior?  Or are they focuses on reiterating the positive characteristics you believe about the other person?  What is your pattern of motivation?  Do you tend to raise your voice or vent your frustration?  In order for you to provide your family with stability, love, and acceptance, you must ask God to help you grow in those areas of yourself.  If you have developed a negative pattern of criticism, sarcasm, frustration, or anger in motivating and instructing family members, you’ll need to intentionally change in order to SOAR.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.