Childhood obesity is becoming a major health issue, and parents everywhere are concerned about teaching their children to eat nutritious meals and maintain a healthy weight. Here are some basic ideas for instilling good nutrition habits in your kids from an early age:
• Set the right example. Let your children see you eating good food, not junk.
• Provide a healthy variety. Don’t force foods on kids, but make nutritious food available in your home so they can choose what they want.
• Avoid power struggles. You can’t control what other children eat, nor what your child eats at a friend’s house. You can set the rules for your own home, so do it and don’t obsess about what others do.
• Involve your children. Take them to the store so they can see what you choose and so they can make a few selections of their own. Enlist them in helping prepare meals so they see what goes into a healthy dinner. Talk about where fruits and vegetables come from, and what goes into processed foods.
• Eat together. As much as possible, schedule dinners so everyone in the family can join. This helps you influence what your children eat at meals.
• Remind everyone to slow down. The faster people eat, the more they eat, generally speaking. Don’t let your kids race through dinner; urge them to take their time with every bite.
• Drink water. Water is better than soda and other sugary drinks, and helps kids feel full between meals.
A lot of people – particularly busy parents – enjoy dining out at a restaurant, but many parents can be decidedly nervous about going out to eat with their children because of how the children might behave during the meal. The good news is that there are a few tips that can help you make the scenario of the family eating out together a much smoother and more enjoyable experience for all concerned.
One good idea is to check before you go out to eat that the menu of the restaurant you intend to eat in will have something that your child will actually be willing to eat. Another good idea is to beat the rush by going to the restaurant at an off-peak time, such as between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on a weekday afternoon.
Choose to be seated in a booth if you can, as this usually makes it a lot easier to keep your children contained. Not all restaurants are prepared for children so bring along something to keep them entertained such as a coloring book and crayons.
Hope this helps and enjoy!
Returning to work after maternity leave or even several years away from the workplace typically means having to find childcare. With so many different options to choose from, however, just what can parents do to ensure that their chosen childcare provider can offer good-quality care facilities and guarantee their child’s safety? Here are a few tips to bear in mind when investigating your options.
- Check with the day care centers to ensure that they can fit in with your planned working hours and offer some degree of flexibility if, for example, you are running late.
- Consider what kinds of qualities would fit your child’s personality
- Talk to friends and family members about their childcare providers and always aim to get personal recommendations for any options that you consider.
- Always visit the nurseries, day care centers or child care centers that you are considering, to get a feel for the atmosphere and routine.
- Check the indoor and outdoor space available to the children, to make sure that it is adequate and safe.
- Check out the facilities and the equipment provided for the children, to ensure that these meet high standards.
- Find out the types of activities the facility offers.
- Ask about the safety and security procedures and precautions.
- Ask to see the childcare provider’s formal inspection reports.
The backyard is somewhere where quality time with the family can be spent all year round, but accidents can take place anywhere and it is important to make sure that you have taken all possible safety precautions to make sure the backyard remains a safe area for relaxation and play.
When it comes to your lawn, you should remove tree stumps and get rid of concrete footings so as to cut down the chances of people tripping over. When cutting the lawn, debris such as rocks can turn into flying projectiles so the yard needs to be cleared. If you have children and any potentially hazardous tools or chemicals they need to be stored well out of their reach in a locked garage or shed.
Fencing is important too, serving to protect children from outside dangers and keep toddlers away from ponds, hot tubs, swimming pools or away from strangers and traffic. Fences can also help to protect your pets by keeping other animals away and making sure that they remain in their own yard.
Reading to your children should start early. Really early. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting as soon as your children are born.
Reading stimulates brain development and language skills, as well as fostering a closer emotional bond between parents and children. Remember these tips:
• Read widely. Infants respond to voices around them, so start out by reading anything that’s handy—sports pages and cookbooks will do, as well as very simple picture books.
• Ask questions. As your child grows older, get him or her involved. Ask them what they think will happen next, or why a character behaved that way. You’ll start teaching some basic critical thinking skills, and you’ll make the experience more enjoyable.
• Read every day. Make reading a regular activity. Don’t just limit it to bedtime. Bring a book with you to doctor’s appointments and the store so you can read while waiting.
Keeping family relationships healthy can be more of a challenge than it should be in our workaholic, time-starved and cash-strapped society, and focusing too much on any one thing can often have a detrimental effect on family relationships.
We are supposed to work in order to live and yet far too often these days it appears that people are living for no other reason than to work. If this sounds familiar then you need to begin setting up positive relationship habits sooner rather than later. Allocate weekly time commitments for things that are vital to the health of your family relationships, including attending your son’s football match, scheduling date nights for you and your partner, and bathing your children at least once or twice a week.
Such commitments need to be non-negotiable and take precedence over anything happening at work. Time with your children is precious while they still are children, and you will not get to make time with your partner if they end up leaving due to neglect.
Children need consistency. After all, if the same action meets with smiles and praise one day and yelling and punishment the next, how are they supposed to make any sense of the world?
Parents need consistency too. Without it, not only do they make a rod for their own backs in terms of their children’s behavior, but they become exhausted trying to decide each time how to handle a particular situation. Although it is not always easy to be consistent, here are a few useful tips to help keep you on track.
1. It is impossible to have a strategy for every conceivable difficult situation, so decide which behaviors you want to prioritize and concentrate on those.
2. Choose a quiet and relatively stable time to bring in new regimes and disciplines so that you can give them your full attention.
3. Psyche yourself up for the times of day when bad behavior is most likely – mornings, the period after school, and before dinner and bedtime.
4. Write yourself reminders of the good and bad behaviors that you have chosen to prioritize, and post them where they are always in view.
5. Expect your children to test you and for there to be temporary setbacks. Persevere.
6. Keep reminding yourself that consistently reinforcing good behavior is not a form of punishment but teaches your children valuable life lessons.
7. Don’t expect miracles overnight, but remember that with patience and perseverance, change will occur.
Sibling rivalry may be as old as the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. Fortunately, most conflicts between siblings don’t lead to the same tragic result, but they can be distressing to parents and children alike. To keep the peace in your household, follow this advice:
• Start early. Involve the older child before the younger brother or sister comes along. Talk about how life develops in a mother’s body, discuss what changes the family should expect, and reassure the child of his or her parents’ love.
• Pay attention. Many struggles between siblings arise because one of the children feels neglected and wants his or her share of attention. Do your best to devote some special time to each child so he or she doesn’t feel less important or unloved. Avoid any behavior that might appear to favor one child over the other.
• Don’t compare children. Holding up one child as an example to the other can spark resentment and jealousy. Don’t expect them to become mirror images of each other. Appreciate each child on his or her own merits, and respect your kids’ individuality.
• Teach children to settle their own conflicts. If you impose a solution, or drop everything to mediate a conflict, chances are good that no one will be happy. Talk to children about how they can solve the problem on their own—by asking politely, taking turns, seeing things from the sibling’s point of view, and so forth. If you must get involved, try not to take sides; help the children negotiate their own solution.
• Hold family meetings. Bring everyone together once a week to discuss issues and explore solutions. Most of the time children just want to be heard. Give them a chance to speak and respond, and work together to resolve differences and disagreements.
Parents worry about their children; it’s a fact of life. Teaching them to be safe as they grow and explore is one of your most important jobs. But with so many potential threats to worry about, the task can seem overwhelming.
Here are a few basics to concentrate on:
• Discuss safety calmly. You want your children to be careful, not terrified. When you talk about safety matters, emphasize that your main concern is their welfare. Listen to their concerns, and answer their questions as clearly and honestly as you can.
• Highlight important information. Be sure your younger children know their home phone number and address, as well as contact information for another relative or trusted adult.
• Don’t just talk about strangers. Attacks or abductions by total strangers are (thankfully) very rare. Let children know they should tell you anytime they’re made uncomfortable by someone’s behavior, even if they know the person well.
• Play “what if?” Rules and advice can be too abstract for young minds to understand. Make it real by asking children what they would do in certain situations: If a stranger tried to get them into a car, for example, or if they got lost in a shopping mall.
• Discuss body issues. Let your children know that no one should be allowed to touch them in personal areas. Teach them what areas you’re talking about, with the proper names, so they can tell you accurately if something happens.
Few parents can resist the temptation to let their little ones snuggle in bed with them, but persuading them to sleep alone at a later date can be a challenge. With patience and persistence, though, it can be done, so here’s how to reclaim your own bed.
- Choose a settled time to start your new regime, rather than just before a vacation or a house move.
- Set a specific date, mark it on a calendar and then get the child to cross off the days leading up to it.
- Talk about the day with enthusiasm so that your child becomes excited about what is happening. Use positive language like “You’re getting so big that you’re going to need the whole of that new bed to yourself!”
- Talk about your own experience of moving into your own bed, so that your youngster understands that this is something we all have to go through.
- Let your child pick out a new cuddly toy that will be reserved for nighttimes and only when he or she sleeps alone.
- On the big day itself, put your child to bed, read a bedtime story, give a good-night kiss and then retreat from the room. Leave a nightlight on or the door ajar as necessary.
If the child gets up, put him or her gently back into bed without any fuss or attention and keep doing this as often as necessary.