May 26, 2010

Meal Times Should Never Be Battle Times

From today's Love and Logic e-newsletter:

* Model good eating habits (of course, this is the hardest part).

* Provide healthy meals.

* When your kids complain about the meal or refuse to eat, say, "Dinner will be on the table until 6:30. You may either eat it or see if you like what's served for breakfast a little better."

* Resist the urge to nag, remind or warn.

* With great empathy, allow them to be hungry until the next meal.

With most children, this approach works great. Sometimes they eat a lot, sometimes they eat a bit, and sometimes they eat nothing. Overall, they learn to eat what their bodies need to stay healthy.

Are you familiar with RIF?

Reading Is Fundamental is the oldest and largest children's and family nonprofit literacy organization in the United States.

The RIF web site has a Parent Section with all kinds of tips and activity ideas to help you motivate your kids to read.

The section for kids, Reading Planet, has all kinds of activities and online animated stories.

RIF is a great resource that encourages kids to read. I suggest you add using the RIF website to your list of summer reading activities.

May 24, 2010

Picky Eaters

Are meal times challenging at your house because your child is a picky eater?

If it's the eating habits of your toddler that concern you rest assured that toddlers are notoriously picky eaters. They'll go for a long period of time eating the same foods over and over then suddenly refuse that food. They may balk when you offer them a new food. What's a parent to do?

Sometimes toddlers are willing to try a new food if they see mommy and daddy enjoying it. If they don't want to try the new food keep putting it on their plate over the course of several meals. Some toddlers need to be exposed to a new food a dozen or more times before they decide they like it.

Toddlers like to fight over food so don't make a fuss about it or it will become a much bigger deal than it needs to be. As long as there's something on the plate that your toddler will eat don't worry. Over time they'll develop an interest in other foods.

If it's your preschooler that's picky about meals try taking them to the store with you and have them select a new food to try. Start with a fruit or a vegetable. Once you've taken that food home have your child help prepare the food. Children who are involved in selecting and preparing new foods are much more likely to eat them.

By instilling good food habits in your young child you will ward off your older child becoming a picky and demanding eater. Often parents try to accommodate their picky eater by making them a meal separate from the rest of the family. Don't allow yourself to become a short-order cook! "But my child will go hungry," insist many parents. It won't hurt a child to miss a meal now and again. He'll eat when he's hungry. Teach your child that you prepare one meal and everyone eats the same thing. If your child isn't used to you approaching mealtimes this way she may raise a stink. Don't give in. Stick to your plan and soon your child will realize they can no longer manipulate mealtimes.

Do not allow yourself to become your child's short-order cook.

May 11, 2010

Children and Anxiety

There are times when children deal with feeling anxious about things such as dogs, storms, the dark, being away from mom or being in new situations. Sometimes a child will suddenly become anxious about something that's never bothered them before.

When it happens there are things parents can do to help ease the anxiety.

* Pay attention to and acknowledge your child's feelings. Don't dismiss their anxiety, even if it's unfounded, because to them it's very real.

* Stay calm when your child becomes anxious about a situation or event.

* Introduce them to things they can do to calm themselves down when feeling anxious such as taking deep breaths, listening to calming music, etc.

* Don't punish mistakes or lack of progress as your child is learning to overcome the anxiety.

* Be flexible and modify expectations during stressful periods. This may include allowing for extra time if transistions are stressful for your child.

With time and patience your child's anxiety should steadily decrease. If it doesn't or if it increases you may want to consult with your pediatrician or a therapist.