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Making mealtime nutritious and pleasant for your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 06:28pm
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Here are some practical suggestions for helping your children to enjoy eating nutritious food at mealtimes:

Have meals and snacks at regular times, which helps children's bodies learn to expect when they will be fed.

Offer your children only nutritious snacks between meals which won't let them get too full. This includes carrot sticks, apple slices, peanut butter on celery, and fruity yogurt. 

Encourage your children to feed themselves as much as possible, whether with fingers or utensils. Acknowledge your child’s behaviour-“You ate all your vegetables by yourself tonight, you are getting so grown up.”

Try to relax about the amount your children eat, and which foods they eat. This keeps the tension levels down and makes mealtimes more enjoyable for the whole family.

Try to give your children at least one thing you know they like at meals, as well as something you'd like to introduce them to. But don't worry if they don't eat the new food. Sometimes it takes several exposures before little children learn to like a food.

Let your children tell you when they are full. But before they leave the table, make it clear that they will not be allowed to return for snacks until some reasonable time has passed.

Try to make sure your children have eaten at least a little solid food before giving them a drink. Drinks can be very filling.

And, try not to nag your children about eating. Avoid being very disappointed or angry when they don't eat much of what you have prepared. It will be easier for both of you over the long run, if you can take their refusal somewhat lightly.

 

We know that mealtimes and be especially challenging for parents. How do you make mealtimes happier and healthier for you and your child? Share your comments below!

 

Ask Our Expert!
Do you still have questions about nutrition and your preschooler? Our expert, Karen Soper, is a Holistic Nutritionist and has been practicing holistic nutrition since 2003. Ask Karen a Question!

 

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When your preschooler is upset

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 05:12pm
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When preschoolers get upset, it can be very hard on them and the people around them.  Here are several suggestions from our experts to make things easier on everyone.

  • Offer your child a safe quiet place to calm down, away from others, but where she knows she is not entirely alone.
  • Help your child regain control of his emotions by teaching him deep breathing and to think about good things.
  • Try to calm your child by gently changing the scene into something more positive, like baking cookies, going for a walk or cuddling together while you watch TV.
  • Encourage positive, fun physical activity, like jumping on cushions, to help release strong feelings.
  • Most importantly, try to keep yourself calm when your child is upset. Remember that you can't be helpful unless you are in control of your own emotions. 
  • During your regular daily life provide a good example of coping with your own emotions by saying things in front of your child like, "I'm sure I can get through this if I slow down and think about it." 

 

How do you manage when your preschooler is crying and upset? Have you tried any of these techniques? Did they work? Share your story with other parents by leaving a comment below.

 

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Traumatic TV and Preschoolers

by Maxine
Posted August 27 2010 02:04pm
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It is important to limit children's exposure to TV and other media. In times when we are bombarded with images and stories in the media about difficult and upsetting topics, be they flu pandemics, natural disasters, wars or terrorist attacks, parents often cannot avoid their young children hearing or seeing information about these events. Here are some strategies to help you and your child manage the stress and upset that can result from seeing upsetting things in the media.

Through television and other media, four- and five-year old children can be exposed to violent and disturbing images of war, terrorism, pandemics, disasters and tragic accidents. Some preschoolers are affected by these images more than others. However, young children are very sensitive to their parents' and caregivers' reactions. If you and your spouse are upset, or if your child's regular caregiver or teacher is upset, chances are good your child will become distressed too.
 
It is a good idea to limit young children's exposure to violence or upsetting stories in the news. It is even more important to limit your own exposure, if it is preoccupying you or distressing you. Turn the TV and radio off. Reassure your child that you are basically all right, even if you are sad. If it is important for you to keep track of what is happening during a traumatic event, then turn on the TV or radio at key news moments to catch up. But turn it off again and reconnect with your child.

It is also important to limit the time you spend worriedly talking about the event or situation with others and give your child some quality attention.
Some children are very sensitive and if you are anxiously talking to teachers, grandparents, neighbours and others, even four- and five-year-olds can become quite disturbed themselves.

If your child does see some news event that upsets him, or upsets you, talk about it.
It is not necessary to explain it in detail. You can simply say that a sad thing happened and some people got hurt and died. In many cases you can tell your child that the event happened far away, and emphasize that you and your family are safe. Don't forget to tell him that the people in charge are doing everything they can to protect you against the danger, and to make sure this doesn't happen again. It may also help some children feel better if they help out in some way. For example, they can send drawings or letters to the communities touched by the event.

If your young child is still anxious over an event that happened more than one month ago, consult your child's physician.

 

How does your child respond to traumatic events in the news? How do you help him or her cope? Share your story by leaving a comment below. And don’t forget that you can also Ask and Expert if you have questions on this topic.
 

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Nightmares and Night Terrors

by Maxine
Posted September 5 2011 03:21pm
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Getting your child to sleep when they are young can be challenging enough, but when your child is awakened by nightmares or night terrors it can be a really scary and stressful situation for both parent and child.

"One of the major challenges for parents whose child is having nightmares or night terrors is figuring out which is which and then what to do about them," says Karon Foster, a Registered Nurse and Parenting Expert. "A nightmare is a scary dream that happens when the child is in a period of light sleep. They usually happen during the second half of the night and children often tell their parents that they felt they were about to be in danger. A night terror is an intense dream that happens as the child moves from deep to lighter sleep and usually happens about 1-2 hours after the child falls asleep."

Between 5-15 per cent of children will have nightmares or night terrors and they generally happen between 18 months and 15 years, but they can occur in infants too. They are most common from ages 2 to 6. Night terrors tend to run in families, so if you or your partner had night terrors your child is more likely to experience them.

What your child fears in his sleep may vary based on his age. For example, a lot of 2-year-olds seem to be afraid that Mom or Dad will leave them and a lot of 3-year-olds develop fears of monsters or animals. Real-life things can cause nightmares, too, like seeing parents argue, starting daycare or seeing a scary television show or movie. Anything a child finds upsetting could cause a nightmare. Some experts speculate that nightmares are caused by the child trying to work through the scary situation while he sleeps.

When a nightmare strikes your child will be fearful and distressed – those are the times when they call out or cry for you in the night. Your child will be aware of you and can be comforted. With a night terror your child might experience fear or anger, thrashing or screaming – he may appear to be awake, but is not. He may even become more agitated if you intervene. Both can be scary for parents and even more so for your child.

"With a nightmare, your child will likely remember some of the scary dream that he had and, if he’s old enough, he might want to talk about it," says Foster. "With a night terror the child usually doesn’t remember the dream or anything he did during it. He will likely go back to sleep quickly, whereas a child who has had a nightmare may have trouble getting back to sleep and will want your comfort and reassurance."

If nightmares occur frequently, your child may start to fear going to bed and have difficulty falling asleep. Your child also may want to sleep in your bed. He may not even want to go on a sleepover, for fear of having a nightmare in front of friends. And if your child is getting less sleep than needed, he may be irritable and moody. You, too, will probably suffer from lack of sleep, because you are being woken by your child.

If your child is losing a lot of sleep, or beginning to avoid sleeping or any other activities she used to enjoy, consult your child's physician about any possible medical reason for the nightmares. You should always consult your health care provider if your child is having night terrors.

Learn how to cope with and prevent about Nightmares and Night Terrors.

Has your child ever had a nightmare or night terror? How did you cope? Share your experience with other parents in the comments section below!

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