We can lock them up and throw away the key or give them the death penalty. We can talk about how they should be shown no mercy, that they’re ‘monsters’, evil and deserve no compassion. How though, did innocent children grow up and turn into these infamous lunatics?
No one wants to think that their child eventually do something sinister and terrorizing. Why would anyone want to believe their child could be capable. The fact is that the number of mentally ill children in the US
According to the CDC in their first ever report on mental illness, children as young as 3 are being diagnosed with:
* ADHD (6.8%)
* Behavioral or conduct problems (3.5%)
* Anxiety (3.0%)
* Depression (2.1%)
* Autism spectrum disorders (1.1%)
* Tourette syndrome (0.2%) (among children aged 6–17 years)
If you spot any of the following in your preschool child, seek medical help:
* Temper tantrums
* Excessive nightmares
* Behavior problems at school
* Aggressiveness or cruelty
* Trouble sleeping
* Very fearful, cries a lot or worries
* Repeated separation anxiety
The above symptoms are a red flag for mental illness but could also signal other serious medical conditions. Hopefully the behavior is temporary and nothing to worry about. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take action now so you can help if your child has a problem. Years from now it may be too late. You don’t want to be sitting around at that time wondering what went wrong or beat yourself up for not reaching out.]]>
- Offer more fruits and vegetables, less of the main course. Children will eat more balanced when not given a large portion of their favorite item.
- Cut the salt. Children are developing taste preferences. Giving children salt laden food assures that they will develop a stronger desire for it later
- Watch fatty snacks. Chips, churros, french fries, cupcakes and cookies take the place of much more nutritious snacks.
- Come up with special names for the foods you think your child won’t eat. For example, super strong squash, mighty mushrooms, power pancakes
- Replace 100% juice with diluted versions or better yet, offer water
- Change it up. Variety helps build a diverse diet that is more likely to meet nutritional needs.
- Textures are fun. Include foods with different textures like crispy celery, creamy hummus and chunks of cheese
- Get in the calcium. Children need calcium daily. Send low/non-fat milk, low-fat cheese and/or yogurt.
- Let them serve themselves. Kids eat less when they choose their own portions.
- Eat with your child and model eating healthy foods vs. fast food.
- Let children know it’s ok to stop eating if they are full. Insisting that kids clean their plate starts the unconscious habit of overeating.
- Send your child to school after eating a healthy breakfast. Forget the doughnuts, gobs of syrup and sugar cereals so your child can to use their brain optimally upon arrival.
Just paying attention to what your child is eating goes a long way towards healthy lifestyle habits. If you see the school is not serving quality snacks and lunch, bring it to their attention. If your sack lunch does not offer a serving of fruit, vegetable, calcium and protein without lots of fat, salt and sugar you need to pack it again. Your child is worth it. And, it’s more than just one lunch. It’s the basis of their lifetime eating habits and preferences.
Tell us your tips for building a healthy preschool lunch:]]>
1 – Read. Buy or check out a book from the library and read it to your child. A book of classic fairy tales that can last for a week or so would be a good choice. Or newer, short stories that only take a few minutes of time. Either way, your child will love to sit next to you and hear you read. Plus, reading is good for your child’s speech skills and learning.
2 – Play. Take your child to the park or go skating. Do something physical as a gift. It doesn’t cost much to rent skates or a bike if you don’t have them. And your child will enjoy seeing you do the activities too. You’ll be teaching lifelong athletic skills that will help make sure they stay active for life.
3 – Plant. Get some seeds and grow a little food garden, flower bed or herbs. Your child will be amazed when the plants sprout and see how fast they grow. Gardening is a good way to teach your child about food, where it comes from and how good it is, especially fruits and vegetables. You can both take care of it each day making sure to water, weed and feed your selections. Imagine the joy when you get to taste the first bite of food or enjoy a bouquet of flowers on your table.
4 – Walk. Just a walk around the block can be the highlight of your child’s day. It can be a special time for the parent who gets little time to spend with their child. When my son was only 3 he loved going for a nighttime walk so much he used to go to the door at dusk, grab the door knob and exclaim, “Go walk now!”. Maybe you’ll need to carry your preschooler but it’s a guaranteed winner. Good gift from Dad during the holiday season, enjoying all the neighborhood lights.
5 – Cook. Cook or create something healthy. Plan something special to eat with your child. Decide together what would be a good lunch, dinner or treat. Shop for the ingredients and then make them together. Your child will be more likely to eat nutritious food if involved in the preparation. Make anything from funny face sandwiches to veggie stick creations. The possibilities are endless, just search the web and offer a few choices. Go with the one that most excites your little one.
6 – Recycle. Make a ‘Heavenly Trash’ box to put trinkets and other interesting things inside. Create beautiful art projects out of things you would normally throw out. You can even make a special ornament for the Christmas tree with old jewelry, toys and other things you’re thinking of tossing out. This box can be revisited on rainy days and other special times during the year (i.e., when your child is ill) if you keep adding to it.
7 – Re-Gift. Tell your child that there are a lot of children who don’t have any toys. Ask if they are willing to give one of their toys to a child who doesn’t have any. Help them choose and then find a needy family to give it to. Go through the rest of your house and see if you can find other new or gently used items that you no longer want as well. Check with the local school district or church to find an impoverished family and take the items directly to them. Let your child hand over their toy so they can witness the other child receiving it and see the glee that they were able to give with their gift. Do this each year and your child will soon learn how much fun it really is to give as well as receive.
There are many more ideas like the ones above. These are just a few to get you started. They all give the most important gift you can ever give your child. You. The relationship that you develop doing any of these things will last a lifetime and most certainly can be passed down to many more generations. These things help keep your mind and body healthy. They teach your child that their mind and body is important enough to take care of daily. And, every child needs to learn compassion and respect for the environment.
These things don’t cost gobs of money. There are no apps. No batteries. They don’t require that you work extra long hours or stand in line at the store. They just rely on your time. Time with your child to show that Christmas is special to share with the ones you love and to help give to those who need it most.
1 – For carved pumpkins, cut a third of the top [...]]]>
1 – For carved pumpkins, cut a third of the top off. Go to the nursery with your child and pick out your favorite bedding plants to place inside. Use the pumpkin as a planter and display it outside for several days (or weeks if it’s cold). Then, plant the entire thing in the ground. The pumpkin will turn to compost and the plants will thrive.
2 – If there is wildlife in your area, cut your pumpkin into large chunks and spread them on the ground away from your house. Watch daily and you’ll soon see some of the animals coming around to munch on them.
3 – For those that are not carved, try taking off the stems and use them to roll across the yard. Ask your child to guess which one will roll the fastest when thrown like a bowling ball. If you have the very small round ones, your child can practice bowling with them. Just cut a few finger holes in them in the same fashion as you would see on a bowling ball.
4 – Pretend to be at the gym and use your pumpkins as medicine balls. You can use a large one while your child uses a small one. Show your child how to lift and lower them using their arms muscles, hold to their chest while doing an abdominal crunch or sit back to back and circle the pumpkin around your bodies to use the waist muscles.
5 – Small uncut pumpkins also make great baking dishes. Cut the tops off, clean and then make a stuffing mixed with chicken chunks or chicken sausage baked directly in them at 350 degrees until soft. Each person will eat get their own pumpkin dish for dinner and you can throw away the bowl.
6 – You can always take out the seeds and roast them. Every child needs to experience the smell, taste and goodness of roasted pumpkin seeds. Just wash away the stringy fibers, spray a cookie sheet with non stick spray and roast them at 250 degrees until crunchy. Top with just a sprinkle of salt and enjoy a healthy treat or mix with raisins, cranberries and other nuts for a unique trail mix.
7 – Enjoy some pampering. Turn your pumpkin into a facial mask and put it on both of you while you pretend to be at the spa. Use this simple recipe to make a scrub you can use and keep refrigerated for a week. It’s even edible in case your child decides to eat it instead of wear it. Use 2 cups pureed pumpkin (after you’ve cooked and cooled your pumpkin), 4 Tbsp. Greek yogurt, 4 Tbsp. honey, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1/4 cup ground almonds. The vitamins in pumpkin are great for skin and your child can feel grown up if you wear the scrub on your faces together.
There’s so much for children to learn by using some of these ideas. Pumpkins are only around for a few months each year so make the most out of them. Your child will love it!]]>
1 – Designate An Eat-At-Home Week. Ask for suggestions and help [...]]]>
1 – Designate An Eat-At-Home Week. Ask for suggestions and help making dinner at home for an entire week. Make it fun by involving children with the shopping, cooking, cleaning and the taste of home cooked meals. Your family will not only save money but save time if meals are planned out. Pair this with fun stay at home movies or board games to make the experience even more fun.
2 – Move Every Day. Take a short walk, a bike ride, hike, go to the playground, etc. Whatever your child thinks would be fun and do something physical every day. This can be a real calorie burner and great mood elevator for both of you. You’re also bound to find an activity that your child is naturally good at so you can encourage more participation in that area. Finding that one special activity can mean the difference between a lifetime of physical activity and sitting on the couch.
3 – Read Labels On Food Packages. Learning how to read a food label can be one of the most valuable skills in terms of eating nutritiously. Aim for foods that contain no more than 3 gms of fat per 100 calories, those low in sodium (no more than 100 mg per serving for a child), high fiber (must say oats or 100% whole grain) and low in simple sugars.
4 – Balanced Meals. Remember to make sure children get a balanced meal and eat from all the food groups instead of just a few. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy are a must for building a strong, healthy body. If the color of your meals is golden brown, chances are you’re eating too many fried foods and those high in calories but low in nutrition.
5 – Teach About Vegetables And Fruits. Lacking most in the American diet, especially among children, are fruits and vegetables. Children who don’t taste and eat a variety of these selections from a young age will not develop food preferences for them later. The food we expose children to the first few years of their lives shapes what they want to eat from that point on. Offer a different vegetable and fruit to your child each day. Pick some of their favorites and make sure they’re part of your regular diet.
6 – Take A Break From TV. One day, or more, keep the television off. See what other fun, interactive activities you can come up with to do with your child. Anything you do will give them more exercise and produce more communication in the family. Social relationships are important to develop. Too much screen time can limit personal interaction and lead to inactivity.
7 – Promote One New Physical Habit. Come up with at least one healthy habit to integrate into your family life. Will you park further away and always walk more to the store? Or, have a “Fitness Time Out” when sitting for too long. Get up and move around briskly for 5 minutes for every hour of sitting. Maybe play a balance game every morning while brushing teeth by standing on one leg with an eye closed. Whatever you like, just build in a little extra movement into daily life.
8 – Be Aware. Be aware of how you may be unconsciously teaching your child to be inactive or to eat unhealthy meals. Think about your own behaviors and listen to your words. Do you welcome and encourage your child to move and be active? Or are you more concerned with them sitting and doing quiet activities? Your actions and words mean more to children than anything else in terms of producing lifelong habits. Check yourself this month and see how you may be inhibiting regular activity and healthy eating. It will help your child and your entire family.]]>
Proper nutrition and adequate exercise are vital to your child’s growing body. Choosing the school that fits your child best requires more than just visiting and getting a tour. Here are some things to ask the staff at any prospective school:
1 – What do children do for physical activity? Is it structured or just go outside and play? Are all children exercising moderately at least one hour during their day? Children need at least an hour of physical activity each day.
2 – What kind of snacks/lunch will your child eat? Ask for specifics. Know if the selections are heart healthy (fruits, whole grain products, vegetables) or loaded with sugar, salt and fat. Exposing your child to the latter in excess will set up a lifetime taste preference for those unhealthy foods.
3 – What about rest? When is nap time and for how long? If your child is already attending, how long does he/she typically sleep?
4 – What is the philosophy of the school regarding discipline? Do you agree with it? Are you comfortable knowing your child may be reprimanded according to the established practice?
5 – How does the staff respond to children being brought to school when sick? Having children in class who have coughs, colds, flu and other illnesses will impact your child’s health. And, will be brought home to the rest of the family and expose those who may be highly susceptible to illness, such as infants and the elderly.
6 – How does the school look at academics? Will there be daily “homework”? Young children can feel a tremendous amount of pressure when burdened with forced learning.
7 – How much does the school want parents involved? Are they eager to have you come and help out. Welcome parents anytime they drop in? Or do they expect parents to stay away until the end of the school day. If you decide to come have lunch with your child on a special day is that acceptable?
8 – How safe and secure is the facility. Take a look around and make sure you are confident that your child will not be able to wander outside the structure or get caught in old, decrepit playground equipment. Look around from your child’s point of view and bring up anything that you feel could create a safety or security concern. Make it perfectly clear who is and who is not allowed to drop off or pick up your child. Put it in writing.
9 – How qualified is the staff? If you have a special needs child do they have special ed teachers? It’s very important for not just the special needs children but for all the others that those with special challenges can be helped by teachers trained in that area. A knowledgeable staff will provide a nurturing, loving place for your child to socialize in. Staff who are nothing more than babysitters may not have the skills needed to handle all types of children in a positive way.
10 – Is there room for individualism? Does the school operate more like a boot camp or haven for fun? Will your child be happy and free or afraid and reserved.
All these questions will help you assess whether or not you have selected the right facility for YOUR child. The answers you receive will guide you to pick the place that you know he/she will not only be most content at but also learn lifelong healthy habits. When your child is content, you’ll be content. Both of you will have peace knowing it fits your child’s needs. And that the school is teaching the core lifestyle habits needed for your child to live a long and happy life.]]>
Graph provided by Bad Firecracker
Graph provided by Bad Firecracker
Graph provided by Bad Firecracker
Additional things to think about:
About 40% of all fireworks related injuries are due to illegal fireworks that have been banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
About 45% of injuries from fireworks are incurred by kids under 14 years of age.
Every year about 400 Americans lose sight in one or both eyes due to fireworks.
Fireworks contribute to more than 20,000 fires every year.
Approximately 4 people will die this year in the U.S from fireworks.
Children between the ages of 5 and 9 have the highest rate of firework related injuries.
Preschoolers in particular are most at risk. If you can read the above and still feel that it’s worth putting a sparkler in your child’s hand remember: it may not be you or your child who gets hurt. It’s beyond me why people think it’s a good idea to let a child wave a bottle rocket around and say it’s ok because it’s a holiday. It’s not alright to play with fire and eventually someone will get hurt. Go to a public display and enjoy the beauty and splendor of lights high in the sky. Create memories of fun family times watching them together. It’s cheaper, safer and you’ll be showing your child to respect things that can burn.
If you have a story to share regarding individual use of fireworks, please do.]]>
So how do you know which cereals are worthy of your purchase? Many tout whole grains, fiber, low fat, etc. Have Trix and Froot Loops changed so much they can be considered good-for-you now? Especially with the new packages that claim they are whole grain with added calcium or vitamin D. In a word, no. Despite claims on the boxes, not much has changed.
Here are some guidelines according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI):
1. 100% Oatmeal is good and so are cereals that contain wheat bran – neither are considered as a “whole grain” by labeling standards.
2. If it isn’t oatmeal or bran cereal, it has to say the words “100% Whole Grain” on the box. Not “Made with whole grain”, “More whole grain than before” or any other sentence with the words whole grain in it. If it doesn’t say 100% whole grain it isn’t.
3. A minimum of 3-6 grams of fiber per serving, depending on how heavy the cereal is.
4. How many calories does it have in a normal size serving? Aim for no more than 250 per cup (if the serving size on the box is less than a cup, calculate how many calories would be in a cup).
5. Keep salt level low. Look for sodium content under 250 mg. per serving.
6. Look at sugar content. Sugar should be low unless there is real fruit in the cereal.
7. Make sure fruit is real. Raisins and dried fruit are great but unfortunately many cereals that advertise fruit are really just fruit flavored pieces that contain little or no real fruit. The same goes for yogurt, make sure it has real yogurt not just yogurt powder mixed with sugar and oil.
8. The right kind of fiber. Look for (intact) fiber that comes from 100% whole grains and wheat bran, not (isolated) fiber that comes from soy, corn, or oats. Isolated fiber does not have the health benefits that come from intact fiber.
9. Beware of energy cereals, those that advertise a boost in physical performance or added vitamins. All cereals provide energy and vitamins so chances are you’ll be paying too much for these and be loading up on calories as well.
If a cereal looks like candy you probably shouldn’t be feeding it to your preschool child. Use your instincts – do you really think Lucky Charms is nutritious? Only by the cereal company’s standards, not educated customers. Brand loyalty is established by age 2. It’s not a good idea to help your child build positive associations between cereals that are sugar coated and calorie laden – they’ll last a lifetime. The cereal companies depend upon that but concerned parents and child caretakers know better.]]>