5 Ways To Improve Your Child's Diet

The director of The Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and the author of Always Hungry, Dr. David Ludwig, states that overeating is not the reason for making people fat, but rather it is due to eating the wrong things. Therefore, improving what your child eats at an early age is important since it will help them develop a palate for eating the right things. Developing a healthy palate today will help them tomorrow, since they will focus on eating the right things instead of how much they eat.

Here are five ways you can improve your child’s diet today so that they don’t suffer tomorrow:

1) Don't focus on the number of  calories.
Instead, focus on where those calories are coming from. For example, a can of coca-cola may only have 140 calories, whereas a grilled chicken breast typically has 230. The grilled chicken breast is clearly much healthier and more nutritious for you. Therefore, just because the food item has less calories, does not necessarily mean it is healthier for you.Fat usually gets a bad rap and fatty products usually have higher calories which put parents off. However, some higher fat diets do come with advantages. Dr. Ludwig states that “When you increase your fat intake, you displace carbs from your diet without missing them.”  So, how do you identify which fatty foods to buy? Nuts, nut butters, full-fat butters, avocados, olive oil, rich sauces, and even full-fat salad dressings are all fine.

2) Don't be fooled by low-fat
Dr. Ludwig says “low fat” foods that replace fat with sugar have raised insulin levels far too high. Therefore, it is important to balance the amount fat you feed to your children. You can accomplish this by cooking your with full-fat butter. Remember, sugar is bad; healthy fats are good.

3) It is more about biology than willpower
Dr. Ludwig states that your body will always have a good idea about how to regulate your own weight. This is also true for your children at early ages. So, if you overfeed your child, he/she will gain weight in the short term, but then his/her body will speed up his/her metabolism. The opposite is also true. When you under-feed your child he/she will lose weight, but then his/her body will become hungry more often and his/her metabolism will slow down, storing fat. That is why it is important to let your child’s biology indicate when and how much your child should eat. This means your child’s biology and metabolism has less to do with how much he/she eats but more to do with what your child puts in his/her mouth.

4) Lead by example
According to Dr. Ludwig, the most important thing you can do as a parent is to be a visual role model for thoughtful eating and snacking, to lead your child by example. He says “Kids are exposed to all kinds of unhealthy influences, but the home is the bastion of protection, where the only influences are healthy ones.” All you have to do is eat higher-fat foods, natural complex carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, brown rice, etc.), fruits, and veggies. This will make it easier for your child to create healthier eating habits when he/she becomes an adult. A good way to do this is by putting healthy food out on the kitchen counter top so your child can grab and go without much preparation or thinking required.

5) Home should be the place for delicious food
Since tasty treats or junk foods, such as pizza, burgers, and candy, are always going to be outside the house teasing your child, you need to be extra careful to make good food at home. However, it is also important to make sure that the good food you prepare at home should also taste good. That way your child doesn’t think food at home is boring and food outside is tasty. The best way to go about this is simply google how to make a healthy pizza and you will have a recipe for a tasty treat at home.

As Dr. Ludwig puts it “We can’t expect the food industry to care for our kids. It’s up to parents to say no” and provide a tasty and healthier alternative. Just make sure when you are telling your child to not eat junk food, you are not devouring a double chocolate cake yourself. So, use these five ways to create a healthy diet for your children at home and they won’t have to diet in the future.

4 ways to increase your child's Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Emotional intelligence (EQ) teaches your child to care about how other people feel. This is important as it helps better develop their temporal lobe, specifically the amygdala which is the part of the brain that controls friendship, fear, aggression, love, affection, and the expression of mood.

We're going to share the top four ways to increase your child's EQ.

1) Let them Rock
Tal-Chen Rabinowitch’s paper “Musical Games and Empathy” highlights the fact that when kids play music with a group of other children, it teaches them to be more empathetic. Since, playing together with others requires harmony, it helps children to pay attention to others, synchronize their efforts and also understand where the other kids are going with their melody. This helps them build trust.

We already know playing instruments enhances the child’s brain activity, and now we you know that playing with others increases their emotional intelligence and people skills. So next time you are thinking of signing up your child for a piano lesson, make it a group class or invite the friends of your child along.

2) Attach the emotion to a face
Another way of developing your child’s emotional intelligence is by simply talking about their emotions. Talking with your child about how he/she feels helps him/her connect actions with emotions. Even better, talking about his/her emotions helps him/her understand how what they do affects other people as well.

What is even more interesting, according to “The Functional Architecture of Human Empathy” article, making silly faces, even if it is for the fun of it, helps children empathize with the real emotion. Practice making a silly happy face, a silly sad face, a silly angry face and have your child identify the emotion on your face and then have your child make some silly faces with you.

3) Practice "Class Hour"
Class Hour is something that the Danish schools do, where for an hour of the week the class sits down to talk about the challenges they face with the class and other students, and then try to solve them. Teachers start it off by stating what they have noticed and then open the floor for the students to discuss. Children are the core of the process and if no one has any issues, then the children play together. This helps them develop openness and feel secure among others.

Waiting for schools to implement this in the US might be a long wait. So, instead, use the same approach at home where you act as the teacher. Start a conversation about the situation at home and let them participate. This will prepare your child to feel open in discussing their emotions and challenges, rather than acting out.

4) Practice "Emotion Coaching"
Disciplining your child by instilling fear in them to behave well is an antiquated strategy. This has long been proven to not only be ineffective, but creates resentment in your child. In addition, when you resort to fear, you replace the love resulting in your child doing something because they have to, rather than seeing why they should want to (a higher level of cognition). Lastly, using harsh disciplinarian techniques will weaken the power of your word.

Practicing “emotion coaching” will help them behave better. Emotion coaching is when you help your child understand the root of your child’s behavior and then give it a name. Empathize with them. For example, if they are angry because they can’t play with a toy, tell them “I understand. You are angry because you can’t play with that toy, that must be frustrating.” Let them explain themselves and whenever they indicate their emotion, help them name it, and tell them that the way they behaved when they felt that emotion is not acceptable. When your child is able to describe his/her emotion, it becomes less traumatic of an experience for them.

Afterwards, when they calm down, ask them why they felt the way they did, what made them angry. Make sure you listen to them and let them know that you are hearing them and that what they are feeling is valid. Do not judge them because at this point you are building rapport and trust with them. If you judge them and make them feel guilty while they are being vulnerable to you, then they will begin to resent you and no longer trust you. This will be critically important when they get older and you need them to be very honest with you about everything. Then, talk about solutions and how they could better handle that situation if it comes up again in the future. This way you raise a child that is not afraid of being wrong or “bad.” This means you are developing a child that will make better choices, understand self-reflect, and also be considerate of other people’s emotions.

By increasing your child’s EQ you will raise a more caring, more intuitive child who is also a better at decision-maker. These four ways will help make you a more emotionally-sound parent and pass it onto your child.

3 Ways to Turn Your Infant Into a Reader

According to the “National Parent Survey” performed by Zero to Three, almost half of parents think they should start reading with their children starting around two years of age. That is almost a year and a half later than when we should actually start reading with our children. In fact, a lot of research shows that the benefits of shared reading actually begin around six months.

Here are three ways we put together to turn your child into a reader by starting to read with them at six months old.

1) Make it a routine early on
Start making books a part of your daily lives early on. Books should become a part of your daily routines. Utilizing books at bedtime and naptime are usual, but you can add to these experiences by combining reading with bath time, meal time, or even when you share a commute like Uber.

2) Do it on their time and in their way
Sharing reading time is supposed to be fun. Don’t force it upon your children. Follow their lead, follow their cues, which will show you how interested they are. Babies will probably pay attention for a few minutes, while toddlers might keep their engagement for several stories. Turn it into an activity for them. If they want to touch, grab, or even hold the book then help them. Have them help you flip pages. Mirror their body language. They might jump up and down and you should match their energy level. Having colorful, rhythmic, and simple-to-follow stories will not only get the attention of your baby, but also will catch their attention as they get older since even toddlers find familiar experiences enjoyable. This experiential reading journey is commonly known as “dialogic reading.” This technique encourages adults to prompt children with questions and engage them in discussions while reading to them. This way it becomes more of an enjoyable and fun experience that remains quite memorable. The more engagement, enthusiasm, and discussion the better!

3) Take ownership
Take ownership of the stories by marrying them into your daily lives. If something similar to the story happened to your child in real life, stop reading the book for a moment and relate it back to your daily life by saying something like “hey, do you remember how something like this also happened to Max (the family dog)”. Describe the pictures, engage with the story; don’t just read it. It is important to make your children feel a part of the story. In fact, you can even use technology to go above and beyond, by making your child’s life the story. Use Snapchat to create a Snap story of your day and use it as a bedtime story to engage with. Or you can simply imagine the child is the main character and ask them how they feel in that particular instance. Ask, “What do you see? What do you hear? Who’s there? Allow the child to use their imagination to create their own story.”

Knowing that children can learn and develop the habit of reading as early as six months, it really is important to make it a part of your daily lives. Using these three ways to turn reading into a routine will not only turn them into a reader, but will also increase the time for bonding, social/emotional health, and learning.

5 Ways to Approach Your Child’s 9 Tantrum Triggers

We all know our little angels can suddenly fire up a storm. We also know, even though we act like we know how to handle it, we usually cross our fingers and hope for the best that our discipline methods work. Wouldn’t you want to know what causes these tantrums so you can approach your child in the right way!

Douglas Fields, senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland and the author of Why We Snap, says that our children’s anger is natural and a necessary physiological response which stems from our ancestors.

The 9 triggers that cause these emotional responses:
1) Life-or-death situations
2) Insults
3) Family
4) Environment
5) Significant Other
6) Order in Society
7) Lack of Resources
8) Tribal
9) Being stopped (prevented from taking action)

These triggers are what cause explosive human behavior. The most frequent trigger for children  is number nine, Being Stopped. Like when you tell them to stop doing those annoying things every 30 seconds. Or, saying “no” too often.

Here are 5 ways to approach the nine tantrum triggers:

1) Don't try to stop it before it starts
Since “Being Stopped” is one of their triggers we may tend to think that preventing things from starting is the way to go. However, Dr. Fields says, “I think it’s helpful for parents to realize that there’s no point in appealing to them to stop being angry — you’re appealing to a part of the brain that’s not developed.” “Another part of the brain is raging and taking control of all the behavior right now. What you have to do is wait it out, they have to calm down, and once they will calm down, then you can begin to intervene and to help them solve the problem.” This means you have to let your child go through their emotions before you start explaining why what they are doing is wrong. This is because your children won’t be able to reason while they are emotional.

2) Teach Your Child It’s Okay To Be Angry
Instead of telling your kids why they shouldn’t be angry, help them explore why they are angry. Talking through situations will help your children understand that it is okay to have such emotions. Once you have established the why, show your children what they can do to not end up angry again. This means explain what caused the situation and why their reaction was not helpful. In fact, getting your kids in touch with those angry feelings early and often, can help them become more self-managed as teenagers.

3) Show Your Children You Got Their Back
Since the brain continues to develop, environmental factors can help us reshape our responses. Showing your children that you support them and that you got their back can allow them to have more confidence at times of distress. Allowing them to better regulate their self-control. As parents, showing your children that it is okay to fail, guiding them through a new experience, and helping them solve a problem they struggled with are just a few examples of how you can show your children you got their back. Showing your children you can act as one of their reliable support systems will be very useful for when your children become teenagers. Therefore, build this into your parenting as early and as often as you can.

4) Build Child's Self Control Under Stress
Building self-control helps children make the right decisions and respond to stressful situations in a more positive way. Dr. Fields touches on the fact that so many of the nine triggers can be prevented by your child learning how to maintain their composure under stressful situations. A common way to learn this skill is through healthy competition, like sports. He says “Fundamentally, one of the greatest benefits of sports is self-control under stress.” According to him, parents should take advantage of that since throwing a tantrum doesn’t solve anything in sports. Because of this, playing sports can illustrate clear examples they can understand, ultimately helping improve your children’s self-control.

5) Look for Patterns of Aggression
Aggressive behavior can diminish your children’s development of judgement and the ability to express themselves. Dr. Fields says that when it comes to aggression amongst girls and boys, “there’s a huge difference, so parents need to be aware of that, and look for the different kinds of aggression. One example is that women and girls tend to self-harm. Girls tend to turn the violence on themselves”. Boys tend to show their aggression physically on objects or others. Understanding how your children’s gender plays a role in the type aggression they show allows you to be more cognizant of the tell-tale signs of their triggers. To overcome aggressive behavior start encouraging and rewarding them to use their words instead. When you notice they handled a difficult situation without resorting to violence, recognize it and praise their behavior for handling the stress so well. You can learn more details about the differences between two genders and their aggression at Dr. Fields’ book Why We Snap.

As human beings we all have these nine triggers. Tantrums are normal. Don’t be worried that you’re doing something wrong. Now that you know these nine triggers and potential approaches to resolve them, you’ll be better prepared as a parent. Though, it might not come naturally to use these five approaches at first, over time you will build the ability to respond accordingly. Repetition is key. As adults, we don’t throw tantrums like our children, it is important to understand the why behind it and use it to better handle the next toy shopping crisis at the mall.

Source: Fatherly

3 Tips to Keep Your Next Superbowl Star Active and Injury-Free

After the wake of #Superbowl51 between Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, as parents of active toddlers, we might get excited to have them become future athletes. Although having your child play sports, like football, at a young age may seem like a healthy idea, some experts disagree.

Don't worry, here are 3 healthy, and simple ways  to keep your child-athlete active and injury-free.

1) Focus on Fun

Before the age of 7 or 8, competition can stress kids and eventually turn them off of sports for good. Focus on having your toddler enjoy the activity, turn the focus on participating and collaborating.

2) Provide Variety
Dr. Stubbs, orthopedist at
Wake Forest University, states that “Specializing in one sport from a young age, in hopes of becoming a star player, is what contributes to overuse injuries,” It is okay to try to have your young one become the next Lebron James or Serena Williams. However, remember to provide a variety of activities to allow them to use their bodies in different ways. In addition, your child doesn't need to be doing something all the time to be a superstar. Kids at this age need their rest to keep them going strong. So if they play pee-wee football one day, take them swimming the next day, and provide rest on the next day after that.

3) No Pressure
Brooke de Lench, the author of
Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports says “Organized programs offer no edge at these young ages”. Therefore, do not put pressure on your kid. Focus on building an active child rather than a all-star athlete at young ages.

As you can see, to keep your next #Superbowl star healthy and injury-free: have fun, provide variety, and don’t pressure them.