Compiled from assorted sources
Promoting Good Food Habits
H. Darlene Martin, nutrition specialist
Children often take the attitudes and habits they form during their preschool years into adulthood. So the preschool years are an excellent time to teach children that a proper diet is part of a healthy lifestyle. By 15 months old, most children can feed themselves without help—if they are allowed to try. It may be faster and less messy to feed a toddler, but helping him is not in the child’s best developmental interest. Give him the chance to feed himself.
When preschoolers are allowed to choose from a variety of nutritious foods, they will take in adequate nutrients over time.
Children need protein in order to grow. Milk, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, and dry beans and peas all supply protein.
Children also need calcium for strong bones and teeth. Calcium is found primarily in milk and milk products, but it is also found to a lesser extent in green, leafy vegetables.
Iron is an important mineral. It is supplied by such foods as meat, poultry, fish, and eggs; green, leafy vegetables; and whole-grain cereals. (If you serve iron-fortified boxed cereals, the iron is absorbed better when served with a food rich in vitamin C, like citrus fruits and their juices.) Dark green or yellow vegetables are also good sources of vitamin C and vitamin A.
Small children need plenty of water for regulating their body functions. A higher percentage of children’s body weight is water, so offer water to your preschoolers several times during the day.
Children also need a certain amount of fat in their diet. Fat helps to provide extra calories and needed nutrients for active and growing children. Don’t restrict fat intake for children under the age of two. For children over two years old, fat should represent about 30 percent of total caloric intake.
Sugary foods provide few nutrients and should be eaten on a limited basis. If left on the teeth, chewy, sticky, sugary foods (even those using natural sweeteners) may promote tooth decay. Give children the opportunity to brush after they eat, and teach them to brush properly to help diminish tooth decay.
Most preschoolers experience food jags. For a time, they may eat only a few self-selected foods. Finicky food habits are often temporary. They usually disappear if you don’t make unnecessary rules about eating or make food choices an emotional issue. Don’t make food the object of bribes or punishments. If a child rejects a food, don’t make a big issue of it. Your insistence may make the child more determined to refuse the food being offered. Offer the rejected food at a different time. Preschoolers, like adults, should be allowed to dislike certain foods.
If you really want to promote good food habits, set an example for the children in your care. Children learn by example, so take time to sit down and eat with them. If they see you enjoying nutritious foods, they will be more likely to give them a try.
Feeding Dos and Don’ts
Here are some suggestions to help improve your child’s eating behavior:
Whatever you do, don’t engage in a power struggle. Remember that your child alone controls what she swallows. You control the food you put on the table, so you can gradually influence your child toward good eating habits. But if you engage in an emotional battle of wills over eating, you’ll lose-and the negative repercussions could last for years.
Coping with a Picky Eater—Not So Great Expectations
William G. Wilkoff
1. After their first year, children’s growth slows down considerably. An infant’s growth in the first year is explosive. At one year he will have nearly tripled his weight and grown almost a foot long. By his second birthday, he is growing only about one-tenth as rapidly as in his first year. As a new parent, you may come to expect this phenomenal growth rate to continue into the preschool period. It will not happen. (If it did, your child would have a serious medical problem!)
2. After the first year, your child needs relatively fewer calories. As your child gets older, her body becomes leaner; in simple terms she loses her “baby fat.” Her new body proportions require relatively less energy to function. For the preschool child this means that she needs only half as many calories per pound of body weight than she did as a baby. This is why the two- to five-year-old may appear to be eating less as she gets older.
3. Children “streak eat.” Young children develop an affection for certain foods that may remain favorites for weeks or months or years, and then inexplicably fall out of favor without warning. Children may eat very well for a few days and then just pick for a week. It is the unusual child who will eat a wide variety of foods in consistent quantities day in and day out.
4. Babies are born with a natural preference for sweet and a dislike for sour. All other preferences or tastes for things are learned. Breast milk is intended to be your child’s first food, and it is very sweet. By repeated exposure you can modify your child’s preferences for most foods. However, she may always prefer sweet things when given a choice.
5. Children are wary of new foods. Although toddlers are prone to pick up and put strange things into their mouths that they shouldn’t, they are resistant to trying new foods. It just isn’t in their nature. This does not mean that you shouldn’t offer them new things to try, but your expectations should be low. For a hard-core picky eater, I wouldn’t suggest offering something new more than once or twice a week; you’re not trying to look for trouble, just trying to make a point. Once you get mealtimes to be more pleasant for all concerned, you can become more adventuresome. Until then, help your child by allowing her to have more success at eating by avoiding too many strange things in too short a period of time.
6. Young children’s appetites seem to decline as the day goes on. This is very important for a parent to understand. Exactly why children eat less later in the day is unclear. It may simply be that they have already consumed the necessary calories and their appetite shuts down, or it may be that they are more tired than hungry.
7. Not everyone loves to eat. You may already know this but may have trouble applying it to your own child. Just as there is a wide variety of body shapes and sizes, there is a wide spectrum of appetites across the population of children (and adults). Some people love to eat and move it near the top of their priority list for the day. Others only eat to stay alive and seem to get little pleasure out of the process. Fortunately, most of us enjoy eating but keep it in perspective when it comes to the rest of our lives. There are children who were picky for the first six years of their life and then as if by magic suddenly become voracious eaters. Other children remain indifferent to eating for their entire lives.
Healthy Snacks for Toddlers
Canada‘s Food Guide to Healthy Eating and Toddlers
Toddlers have high energy and nutrient needs relative to their small body size. Their small stomach capacity has no room for foods that do not offer a good source of nutrients and energy. Offering a variety of nutritious foods at meals and snacks ensures a healthy diet. During this time, toddlers also experience fluctuating appetites, which cause great concern for parents. Children will generally eat when they are hungry.
Parents may think their child is not eating enough. Remember that toddlers eat smaller amounts than adults because of their smaller stomach size. This is why it is important to offer healthy snacks between meals. Often parents forget to count snacks when they consider how much their child is eating during the day.
Planning nutritious snacks is as important as planning meals. They should contribute to the child’s overall daily nutrient intake and provide energy. Snacks need to be offered well in advance of the next meal so they do not spoil the child’s appetite. To promote both dental and nutritional health, snacks need to be low in sugar and nutrient dense.
Nutritionally and dentally healthy snacks are:
Grain products: whole wheat breads, crackers, rolls, toast, muffins and loaves made with limited amounts of sugar, unsweetened whole grain cereals, rice pudding
Vegetables and fruit: lightly cooked vegetable and fruit pieces, grated raw vegetables or hard fruit, unsweetened frozen or canned vegetables and fruit, vegetable and fruit juices
Milk products: plain whole milk, yogurt, cheese, milk puddings and yogurt or cottage cheese dips
Meat and alternatives: hard-boiled egg, pieces of lean meat or poultry, tuna, salmon, peanut butter or other nut spreads, hummus or other spreads made from pureed legumes (dried beans, peas, lentils)
How to Cultivate Closeness
Learn parental architecture
You can be the architect of situations that pull you and your teens together—going places together where they would like to go and doing things that will be fun for them.
Perhaps they would rather not do certain things with you because they feel they will be criticized by their friends for doing things with their parents. If this is the case, perhaps you could just be their chauffeur sometimes and take them and their friends on outings. That way, at least you’re there. Perhaps they can invite a bunch of friends over for an evening, or to spend the night, and again, you will be there.
Look for ways that you can merge your lives. This may mean both sides making changes. But as you try, I will show you ways that you can connect. You can connect through having a joint project you work on together: a carpentry project, a sewing or cooking project, a pet, or a garden.
Discover the art of listening
Listening to your kids is one of the main ways you can help them. Learn to really listen. When you ask, “How was school?” stop and listen to how their day went. When problems are presented to you, you don’t always have to comment on the spot. Rather than pass judgment, take time to think about it, or pray for a solution. The main thing is to be a listener; provide a listening ear, as well as love and encouragement and support.
Some teens were asked, “How do you know when your parents aren’t listening to you?” They came up with the following answers: “If they’re not looking at me.” “If they’re reading the newspaper while I’m talking.” “If they keep vacuuming or cooking and say, ‘Go ahead, I can hear you.’”
Then the teens were asked, “How do you know when your parents are listening to you?” Most of them said, “If they stop what they’re doing when I’m talking to them.”
A father finds the key
Here is one father’s account of finding the key to communicating with his teen:
Over the last few months we have had a breakthrough with our teen son. The key was sports. Taking an hour or so to play soccer with him each day is helping him through a difficult stage in his life. Fourteen-year-old Tim is a pretty high-powered boy and had been getting into a lot of trouble.
Shocked at how badly our once nice kids seemed to be turning out, my wife and I realized we needed to get on the ball. We decided we had to start spending more personal time, one-on-one with our teens. I focused on Tim, and my wife spent more time with our 17-year-old daughter.
Tim tended to vent his anger and frustration in aggressive competitiveness, and he was such a bad loser that he was hard to be around. In other areas he was unreliable. His chores and other things he started were left undone. We were on his case continually. At first it just seemed impossible to get through to Tim. The door to his life was locked to my wife and me. We were desperate to find the key, some small point of agreement that we could start to build on.
Tim seemed to have only one interest, and that was soccer. He wasn’t on a team, and I had mixed feelings about Tim getting more involved in this sport, since he already wasn’t getting along well with others. Finally, in the hope of getting closer to Tim, I decided to enter his world and play some soccer with him each day. With this small amount of communication and active involvement, to my amazement Tim quickly began to change and open up. Soon, other people were commenting how much he was changing and becoming such an outgoing, communicative, confident, fun and pleasant teen to be around. (And frankly, I too am feeling a whole lot healthier and happier. Getting outdoors and playing an active sport can do more than burn pent-up teen energy—it can provide a release from parental frustration as well.) For sure it beats the direction Tim seemed to be heading, becoming a bored couch potato or an asocial computer addict, or fighting with someone, or figuring out what mischief to get into next.
Text excerpted from "Parenteening" by Derek and Michelle Brookes. © Aurora Production; used with permission. Image by ipswitch20 via Flickr.
The Importance of Parenting
The goal of parenting is to help our children become responsible adults. To achieve this goal, parents help children learn about life and living in today’s society.
The time parents spend with their children is important. Children need to be loved unconditionally. Doris Curran, a parent educator, says the cry of children today is, “Love me for who I am, not what I do. Love me for being, caring, sharing, and erring, not winning, placing, and showing.” That does not mean that we have to approve of everything a child does. What it does mean is that even though the child misbehaves, we still love and accept the child and provide support.
Talk with children
Spend time talking with children. Talk about any topic of interest to both of you. Talk about the day’s events and the child’s feelings about them. Through observation and interaction with parents, children learn how to communicate. Children learn to express their needs. They learn to listen. They learn to understand nonverbal clues.
Children learn about families from the time they spend in their own families. They learn about birth and caring for another person when a new baby comes home from the hospital. They learn about loss when a family member dies. They learn about marriage and relationships by watching their mothers and fathers interact. By living in a family, children learn to share, how to stand up for their own rights, and how to love another person.
Parents help children develop positive self-esteem by communicating the value they feel for them. Words of encouragement and love help provide children with the courage to try new things without worrying excessively about not being able to succeed.
Growing up with trust
Children learn about trust at home from their parents. They learn trust from being trusted. When parents trust children to accomplish a task on their own, they learn that they can do the task.
Parents help children learn to be more responsible when they help them learn to control their own behavior. A disciplined person has the ability to decide what appropriate behavior is and to act accordingly. Parents use discipline to help guide their children as they become responsible adults. Take the time to make discipline a learning experience. Appropriate discipline should include four parts. Children need to understand:
1) What behavior is not acceptable
2) Why it is not acceptable
3) What behavior is appropriate
4) Why it is appropriate
By helping children understand why something they did was unacceptable, they can learn what acceptable behavior is. There is no one right way to train children. A variety of discipline techniques exist. What is important is a warm and loving relationship between parents and children.
Article courtesy of Motivated! magazine. Used with permission.
[We] asked: What are our values as a family? What do we really believe? What is important to us? We came up with four words: gratitude, generosity, humility, and courage. We determined that we want those four values to define who we are as a family, and for Parker [my oldest son] and I, who we are as men.
So, I am always conscious of how do we cultivate gratitude. How do we model generosity? How do we stay humble and keep learning and stay hungry for more of God? And how do we live courageously? You cannot obey the will of God and not be courageous. That’s why God said to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous,” because if you are going to experience and stake claim to the promises of God, you are going to have to be courageous.
Those four words are words that begin to define us as a family. They are things I want to impress upon my children.--Mark Batterson
If you haven’t done this already, it’s a good idea to give some thought to what your personal or family core values are—to determine the ideals that fundamentally guide your personal choices, that represent the Christ-life and integrity that you want to demonstrate, and that you feel will lead to your having a full and purposeful life.
There are any number of ways to express your personal values and priorities. Some people do it in list form, keeping the points brief. Others write a personal mission statement. Some express what they feel identifies them as a person, the aspects of their life and goals that are most important to them.
Even if you haven’t previously given this serious thought, everybody has values or principles that fundamentally play into their decisions and thought processes, even subconsciously, and that are part of making them who they are, that form the fiber of their character. If you give this some thought and prayer, you’ll probably be able to recognize certain threads in your actions and thinking, points that you continually factor in to your decisions or base your decisions on, and this can help you to identify what values are core to you.
You might also recognize some points that you haven’t given the proper priority to, or factors that need more consideration, and you can adjust accordingly. If you haven’t done this before, then your list of values might be a work in progress; you might redefine it as time passes.
If we follow the thinking that the values in Matthew 22:37–40 are at the center of all we say, do, and believe, the basis for our choices … then any values springing from those two commandments will be in harmony with each other.—Peter Amsterdam
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”--Matthew 22:37–40
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.--Deuteronomy 6:6–7
Text courtesy of http://anchor.tfionline.com/post/values-life-lessons-and-truths/. Photo by Christine [cbszeto] via Flickr.
Every Day a Learning Experience
Being a new mother, I wasn’t sure what to do with my baby girl, Arwen, for the whole day. She is an alert child, and was quite active even as a small baby. For a couple of months I would put her on my hip and take her around the house with me throughout the day, but before long that had me bored, and unfulfilled in my care of her.
I was determined to ensure that my daughter would be smart and not behaviorally challenged. I read a few books on teaching children during what they call the “window of opportunity,” from ages 0-5. I was amazed to learn how parents can teach their children so many things, provided that they are consistent and use appealing methods. I began looking for materials with which to teach Arwen —flashcards, books, and other educational materials—and some materials I personally made.
I started teaching Arwen when she was three months old. After my initial fervor died, and I wasn’t seeing much progress as a result of what I was teaching her, I found myself discouraged. It seemed that she wasn’t reacting to the "schooling" I was giving her. I figured that perhaps she was too young to be learning words, numbers, and other things that I was trying to teach her.
However, I continued, and after a few months, I started noticing that she was responding positively to aspects of my teaching that she recognized, which I had repeated to her many times over. Then one day just before she was seven months, after having shown her flashcards for quite some time with no apparent results, I showed her the word “clap” and without me saying anything she clapped her hands. I was completely stunned. I had hoped my efforts would pay off, but actually witnessing her response was incredible, especially at such a young age.
Arwen is my first child, so every new venture in her progress is a wonderful experience for me. Perhaps I won’t be in such a perpetual state of elation with my next children, but for me this sign of progress was an encouragement to keep teaching her new things.
Now I try to turn everything into a learning experience. I’ve read that the best way to teach children, besides making learning fun, is to make their life a rich learning environment. And she expects me to! Every time I pass a poster or word that I have posted for her, she gets so excited and expects me to make a big deal out of it and explain it to her.
Sometimes I worry that I can’t keep up with her learning capacity, but I’m willing to keep trying to the best of my ability. I’ve experimented with ways to teach her things and have started to write them down in my notebook, so as to remember them for when she’s older. Here are some teaching opportunities I’ve been taking with her daily:
With the things I teach Arwen, I try to make learning fun, so that in the future she’ll look forward to her schooling as opposed to dreading it. Sometimes, however, she is not in the mood to learn, and wants to play by herself, which is also a part of her development, so I’m cautious to not overdo, and make sure I give her times when I’m not teaching her, too.
I hope these ideas can be helpful to other new moms who are maybe looking for ways to pour into their little ones while they’re still babies.
Article courtesy of Motivated magazine. Used with permission.
I look into [my children’s] faces and hear their melodious laughter and … I want more than the world for them. I want the eternal world for them. [Then] I jolt back to my own experiences and reality. The hurts… The pain from a divorce. The consequences of bad choices that are always forgiven but can still haunt me on the days I forget who I am in Him. I realize at this moment when the innocent and authentic collide that I can’t keep [my children] in a bubble. They’re going to be hurt... They will make bad choices.
Much will change as they grow older, and unfortunately, it’s inevitable that the innocence will begin to chip away. But what won’t change? His truths. He was and is and is to come. He’s the same. Always. The comfort this brings me is overwhelming. So while I believe ALL of scripture is sacred and God-breathed, there are some verses I want my kids to have memorized before they leave my nest.
1. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”--Hebrews 13:5
2. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.--Psalm 139:13–14
3. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.--Hebrews 11:1
4. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.--Joshua 1:9
5. I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.--Jeremiah 31:3
6. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.--Proverbs 15:1
7. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.--Matthew 5:23–24
8. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!--2 Corinthians 5:17
9. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.--Romans 8:28
10. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. — Galatians 5:22–231
For illustrated Bible verses and chapters for children of all ages (including many of the ones mentioned above), check out the following links:
Bible Verse Coloring Pages
Feed My Lambs - Simple Bible Verses for Young Children
The Lord's Prayer
Hebrews 11 (excerpts)
Psalms for Children
1 The scriptures in this article are from the New International Version (NIV).
2 Excerpted from http://mommyonfire.com/2012/08/14/10-bible-verses-i-want-my-children-to-know.
A certain amount of fear is healthy and understandable. It keeps us and our children out of harm’s way. We teach our children to fear running into a busy street, accepting candy from strangers, swallowing unidentified substances from the medicine cabinet, etc. We are, in essence, teaching them caution, which is quite different from dealing with a youngster who is responding to an imaginary rather than a real danger. Here are some common childhood fears, and ways to go about handling them.
Fear of the dark
Generally, fear of the dark occurs when the parents insist that the child stay in a totally darkened room at bedtime or when the child wakes up in the middle of the night. Some children are so terrified by the dark that their heartbeats actually increase. Parents need to recognize that the room looks totally different to the child when the lights are out, and should take steps to reassure the youngster even if the fear seems completely irrational to the parents.
Fear of the dentist.
Clearly, for adults, this is often an unresolved fear from childhood, since so many adults are fearful of going to the dentist. It is usually provoked in children because they feel they have no control over the situation. It’s a fact of life that children do need to go to the dentist at regular intervals, so their fear must be dealt with and overcome.
Perhaps the kindest thing parents can do when dealing with a child’s fears is to admit their own childhood fears, especially if the parents had similar fears when they were children. The parents can indicate that they understand just how devastating such fears can be and that they stand ready to reassure and comfort whenever the child feels a need.
Regardless of the child’s age, basic strategies for helping children cope with fears and phobias are similar:
Text and photo courtesy of Motivated magazine. Used with permission.
The Bermuda Triangle
By Dina Ellens
I didn’t appreciate it much when I was younger, but looking back now, I realize the influence my father’s faith in God has had on me. I have fond memories of standing next to his (at the time) towering 6-foot frame, listening to him wholeheartedly singing hymns in church.
My family was from Holland, and my father’s favorite songs were in Dutch. After leaving home and striking out on my own, one particular song would come back to me, especially when I was feeling discouraged or worried. Roughly translated, it goes like this:
A little ship under Jesus’ care
With the emblem of the cross flying there.
It rescues all in need,
Even though the sea stands tall and high
And the storms do threaten nigh.
We have God’s Son on board,
And safety in His ward.
This song connects to memories of an adventure from my childhood:
It was 1953, and my parents had decided to emigrate from the Netherlands to the United States. We crossed the Atlantic on an old ocean freighter that had been converted to carry passengers.
My two brothers and I loved the thrill of being on board a big ship. We spent our days exploring and in no time made friends with all the crew members. I was only four years old, but I can remember the ship’s smell of oil and tar mixed with a sea breeze, and it still fills me with the same feelings of adventure and excitement I felt the day we boarded the freighter in Rotterdam.
Just how much of an adventure we were in for, we had no idea. After several days, our ship was caught in a storm near the Sargasso Sea, at the center of the infamous Bermuda Triangle. The stormy turbulence churned up the abundant floating mats of an alga called sargassum, which then got tangled around our ship’s propellers. The ship suddenly lurched to one side, knocking over passengers and furniture. Thankfully, no one in my family was injured, but with the propellers rendered useless, our ship bobbed helplessly in the stormy ocean.
My father took the three of us children to our cabin and tucked us into bed. I can better understand now what thoughts must have been going through his mind, as he thought of his young family getting caught in these treacherous waters where so many ships and crew members have been lost. Instead of caving in to fear, though, my father prayed with us and sang that particular hymn. Even though the waves were tossing our ship, and we were lost and directionless in the stormy night, I never felt frightened.
In the morning, the sea was calm once again, and the crew was able to make radio contact with the nearest port. We soon welcomed the sight of a sturdy black tugboat chugging in our direction. The tug pulled our huge but helpless freighter to the harbor at Newport News, Virginia, where it stayed in dry dock for two weeks for repairs.
My four-year-old mind retained some memories of the event, such as the ship’s sudden lurch that made me lose my balance and roll under some furniture, and especially the secure feeling I felt as my father prayed and sang so reassuringly.
My father taught us faith by his example of trusting God no matter what circumstances looked like. Whenever life’s problems have seemed large and threatening like the waves of that stormy sea, I’ve sung that little song and have never failed to feel encouraged and reminded of my father’s faith in the midst of the storm.
Courtesy of Activated magazine. Used with permission.
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