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8 Steps to Healthy Eating for Your Child - All about Parenting Toddlers , Issue #006
February 20, 2003

Shaping the life of your precious ones

All about Parenting Toddlers
Issue #006
20 February 2003

In This Issue:

1. Eight Steps to Healthy Eating for Your Child
2. The Three R's of Discipline
3. Is your child ready for potty training?


Eight Steps to Healthy Eating for Your Child

Eating healthy begins at birth and lasts a lifetime with your child's early development of an interest in nutritious, healthy food. Mealtime becomes a cheerful, welcoming experience when your food preparation is supported by the security of wholesome eating.

By serving three balanced meals and two snacks daily to satisfy your child's appetite, you are already engaged in teaching your child how to eat healthily. Here are eight steps that reinforce healthy eating. Be mindful that good pre-school programs should follow similar steps to enhance your child's growth.

1. Teach your child to wash hands before starting to eat or handle food.

Show that hand washing consists of using soap and rinsing with water before drying the hands with a clean towel. Announce when meals will be served to give your child ample time to wash his hands. Serving meals at a scheduled time also establishes a daily routine for your child so he is more aware of his appetite.

2. Use the food guide pyramid in your food strategy.

Food preferences flare up around ages 2 and 3. Your child may demand familiar foods and express definite food preferences, or he may become extremely fussy and reject many foods. Respect food aversions. Use the food guide pyramid to look for the same nutrients in a variety of foods in the five food groups.

3. Allow your child to make simple choices within each food group.

For example, let him choose between fruits, such as an apple or a pear. Serve finger foods that he can eat with ease. Avoid hard to chew or slippery foods to reduce the risk of choking.

4. Introduce different foods early.

Serve colourful, appetising foods in interesting shapes such as rectangles and squares. Keep presenting a variety of foods. Let your child explore. Don't be too free with juices. They can become a deterrent to eating.

5. Encourage your child to assist in shopping and food preparation.

Between ages 3 and 4, he can pour milk and cereal without spills to prepare a bowl of cereal. He is able to set the table and feed himself at the table. He can also help with clearing and cleaning up the table.

6. Teach table manners.

Gradually, as your child's eating skills develop, teach him to eat neatly and to chew with his mouth closed. Allow time to eat but don't insist that your child stay seated at the table for longer than 10 to 15 minutes if he is ready to leave. A hungry child is serious about eating but once he gets full, he may become distracted or start to misbehave. Have colourful, amusing place settings at the table to create a cheerful atmosphere. Have a pleasant conversation.

7. Be authoritative.

Develop rules, such as leaving the table means the meal is over. Teach your child to be aware of his appetite and to know when he is hungry or full. Your child may beg for foods in TV commercials. Do not be swayed. Watch and discuss advertisements on unhealthy foods with your child. Do not give rewards for eating because your child may think that if he has to get something to eat the food, it must not be good.

8. Work with your child's paediatrician to guard against medical problems and obesity.

Children need food rich in vitamins and minerals, especially iron, calcium, zinc and vitamins A, C, B6. Dairy products, meats, whole grains and citrus fruits are the best sources. Do not condition your child to salty foods and sugar. Teach the joys of eating non-sweet foods. Prepare a daily food plan that reflects variety and healthy snacks. The main complaints about fast food are the high sodium and fat contents. Foods eaten in restaurants generally have more fat and less fibre and calcium than foods prepared at home. Make fast food restaurants an occasional visit and dine out occasionally. By adhering to these steps, you not only train your child's instinct on food types, which is very largely related to his naturalist intelligence, but also sharpen his interpersonal skills. Most importantly, you lead him to a healthy life!

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The Three R's of Discipline

Disciplining our children can be one of the hardest parts of parenting. It’s an ongoing process that requires consistency and commitment. One goal of disciplining our children is to train them to learn self-discipline. We are teaching them the boundaries of right and wrong so, at some point, they can make the right choices without our input.

The Big "L"

Before we get to the 3 Rs, let’s talk about the big "L" – love. When you discipline your child, you need to make sure you’re approaching the process with a spirit of love. What does that mean? Well, for starters, don’t discipline out of anger. When you’re ready to explode, take a deep breath, say a prayer and then approach your child. In other words, think before you act, and have compassion.Disciplining should never involve personal attacks. Never call your children names or label them "stupid," "lazy," or "mean." Don’t say things like, "How could you do something so dumb?" Never compare them to their siblings or to other children. Negative motivation might seem to work in the short run, but in the long run it can have devastating effects. Children can eventually feel worse and worse about themselves and will either throw in the towel, "I can’t do anything right, so why even try?" – or if they do try, they’ll feel like they are never good enough.

So, once you’ve looked into your own heart and have determined to discipline with a loving spirit, it’s time to talk about the first "R" – remove.

The First "R" – Remove

When trouble arises the first thing you want to do is remove your child from the situation and send them to their room. Removing is not timeout. The goal in "removing" is to let your child (and you) calm down, and give him time to think about what he’s done – in preparation for talking about it with you. "Remove time" should last at least five minutes. When you sense that your child is ready (and calmed down), that’s the time to talk.

The Second "R" – Reflect

First, ask your child what he did wrong. Don’t let him make excuses or blame others. Next, ask him why it was wrong. And, third, ask him how he’ll act differently the next time. The primary goal of reflection is for your child to understand their motives behind their actions. You want to shape his heart, so he’ll be self-motivated to change his behavior. Finally, tell your child the consequences for his actions.

The Third "R" – Reconnect

Now comes a very important step – reconnecting – making sure the bond between you and your child is not broken. Tell your child you love her – unconditionally. Give her a hug and let her know you believe in her ability to make the right decision the next time. One final note – if you did lose your temper during the disciplining, you now owe her an apology. Your humble spirit will give her a living example of how to accept responsibility for her actions and set things right.

Find out various ways you can use to motivate your children, increase their self-esteem and independence.


Is your child ready for potty training?

How will you know if your child is ready for toilet training?

First the simple answer: Yes. If you are ready as a parent to ask the question, get that potty-chair out and set it up. Don't expect it to be used, but better to have it become familiar before it becomes absolutely necessary. It will help with the tendency some children have to be afraid of this new time in their lives.

Now for the complex answer. Here is where you have to know your child. Asking your child's childcare provider is perfectly appropriate. The average child spends a lot of time in this person's care. There are definite signs to know if a child is nearing readiness.

Those signs include:
1) bowel movements are on a pretty regular schedule
2) follows directions
3) has dry diaper after naps or other two to three hour periods
4) can tell you that he needs to go to the bathroom
5) shows curiosity about what happens in the bathroom
6) wants to imitate adults, siblings, or daycare students in toileting independently, and
7) can pull down his pants on his own.

If you feel your child is ready to begin, based on the above questions, then put a big smile on your face and dive in! However, remember, your child needs to be ready to begin this pivotal time in his life. If he's not ready or is pushed too hard too soon, it could very easily backfire on you. Most children, are potty-trained sometime between two and a half to three years of age.

Some other tips: Don't worry about what your in-laws are saying, they don't know your child like you do. Don't worry about the other children in the playgroup. However, if you have a concern as a parent, do feel comfortable discussing the matter openly and honestly with your child's Pediatrician. They have heard it all! When you are ready to potty train, there are numerous tools now available to parents to help. There are books you and your child can read, videos you and your child can watch, special stickers you can reward, as well as targets for little boys to use. Whatever way you choose to teach your child, make sure you are consistent and calm and that you have a childcare provider who will follow through on your chosen path of teaching. But most of all, be patient, this is big! Good luck!

Click Here for the various tools you can use for Potty Training.


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All the best,

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