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Outside the Box: Places You May Not Have Thought to Take the Kids

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Updated: Monday, January 16, 2017

When thinking of places to take the kids, the standard locations come up: museums, the zoo, parks and the library. We love these places, too, but eventually we, like you, want to find new places to take the kids for an afternoon out. We’ve come up with a list of a few places around the Peninsula you may not have thought of going.

The Movies
As much as you’d like to see the latest and greatest films out, you know kids are unpredictable. The most well-behaved child can turn into a terror at a moment’s notice. You don’t want to be that parent, nor do you want your kids to be those kids. And, while Camera Cinemas Camera 7 in Campbell (1875 S Bascom Ave., Campbell) isn’t on the Peninsula, it’s worth the drive. On the first and third Wednesday of the month, and for $7.75 (kids under 3 are free), Camera 7 holds Diaper Days where you can enjoy a movie and feel confident you won’t ruin someone else’s movie-going experience. Camera 7 also has changing tables in the men’s and women’s restroom, and baby safe lighting and sound levels in the theater on Diaper Days.

Painting
Take a trip to Color Me Mine (602 Santa Cruz Ave, Menlo Park). Kids paint for $8 plus the cost of the piece. Color Me Mine is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. Kids paint for $8 plus the cost of the piece. Alternatively, visit Create It (855 El Camino Real, #108, Palo Alto) and create a hand- or- footprint plate or paint an item for a cost ranging between $10 and $75. Studio time, paint and glazing is included in the cost of each piece. Create It is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The Bookstore
Yes, you can always pop into a chain retailer bookstore for some book shopping, but why not visit a boutique book shop with plenty of picks for kids? Linden Tree Books (265 State Street, Los Altos) holds events and author talks, which are just the tip of the iceberg. Linden Tree also has an ample selection of books to further your child’s interest in reading. Alternate independent and kid-friendly retailers include Kepler’s Books (1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park) and The Reading Bug (785 Laurel St., San Carlos). 

Bowling Alleys
Call ahead and reserve a lane with bumpers before taking older toddlers to the alley. They’ll have tons of fun rolling the ball while learning a new skill – and who cares if it takes forever for the ball to trickle down the lane? It’s a low-key, indoor, active activity that will burn off some of their infinite energy.  

 


Indoor Swimming Pools
The last place you want to take the kids when it’s cold and rainy out is an outdoor pool, even if it’s heated. Consider taking the kids to an indoor pool and give them plenty of playtime without dealing with wintery weather. Sign up for a membership at places like the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center (3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto) or your local YMCA and get access to their heated, indoor swimming pools. Or, enroll your children in La Petite Baleen Swim Schools (60 Fifth Avenue, Redwood City) and get complimentary Family Swim, an open swim program available on Fridays from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m., Saturdays from 3:45 to 4:30 p.m. or 4:45 to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. Registration is required to swim.

The Theatre
Although we're sure the theatre-lover in us wishes we could take the kids to Broadway San Jose or the latest production in San Francisco, the theatre-lover in us also knows they aren’t exactly the most child-friendly spaces. But, Palo Alto Children’s Theatre has found a way to foster a love of performing arts by designing productions specifically for children ages 2 to 6. Palo Alto Children’s Theatre’s The Playhouse series consists of special, interactive experiences designed for toddlers where local high school students perform classic fairy tales on the Magic Castle stage. Sets and costumes are simple and tales are told in a story-teller style that’s perfect for them. Performances are a short 45 minutes and held at 10 a.m. and noon on Saturdays and Sundays.

Do you have any unique finds for kids? We’d love to hear about them.

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Medicine: Introduce Food Allergens Early

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Updated: Sunday, January 15, 2017

According to new guidelines from the National Institutes of Health, an expert panel sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) suggests that parents introduce peanut-containing foods to infants prior to their first birthday.

As peanut allergies continue to be a growing health problem, the new recommendations provide three guidelines for introducing peanuts based on their risk of developing a peanut allergy. It is recommended to introduce peanuts to the highest risk group – those with severe eczema, egg allergy or both – as early as four to six months. For infants with mild or moderate eczema, the recommendations are that peanut-containing foods be introduced around six months of age. The third group, those without eczema or any food allergies can be given peanut-containing foods freely. Solids should be introduced prior to peanuts and parents should always consult their pediatrician for more information.

“Living with peanut allergy requires constant vigilance. Preventing the development of peanut allergy will improve and save lives and lower health care costs,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “We expect that widespread implementation of these guidelines by health care providers will prevent the development of peanut allergy in many susceptible children and ultimately reduce the prevalence of peanut allergy in the United States.”

Emerging data has suggested peanut allergies can be prevented by the early introduction of peanut-containing foods. The new guidelines can be viewed in full here

Tags:  allergies  guidelines  peanuts 

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Spend a Super Sunday Morning with PAMP

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Updated: Monday, January 9, 2017

There's no better way to spend a Super Sunday than at PAMP's Funtastic Winter Arts & Crafts Day.

Come out for a funtastic morning of arts, craft, music, movement and more in an indoor, winter-themed environment on Sunday, February 5 from 10 a.m. to noon (avoiding any interference with your Super Bowl plans) at Menlo Park's Arrillaga Center, Sequoia Room, 601 Laurel Street.

Register today! Registration is only $10 per PAMP family and $20 for non-members.

Sponsors and activities include:

Alkalign Studios will provide a movement activity for parents and kids.

 Music Together Menlo Park will be on hand with short music classes and activities throughout the morning.

Get crafty with La Petite Baleen who will have a fun craft for kids.

Woodside Parents' Nursery School will have a creative activity for guests.

If you've been missing Messy Play, stimulate your child's senses with Messy Play Kits.

Wund3rkid is also attending with an arts & craft activity.

We'll even have a play area and hot cocoa for you and your family to enjoy!

Don't forget to register for our "Super Sunday" Funtastic Winter Arts & Crafts Day.

 

Tags:  arts  crafts  funtastic winter arts and crafts day  pamp events 

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Medicine: Study Suggests Fish Oil May Reduce Child's Asthma Risk

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Updated: Sunday, January 15, 2017

A study published Dec. 29, 2016 in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that women who take fish oil during pregnancy may be doing their babies a favor by reducing their risk for developing asthma.

The study, which gave 736 women who were 24 weeks pregnant either fish oil or a placebo and studied a total of 695 children for five years, found that the fish oil supplementation in the third trimester of pregnancy “reduced the absolute risk of persistent wheeze or asthma and infections of the lower respiratory tract in offspring by approximately 7 percentage points, or one-third.”

Performed at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, in a country where fish oil consumption is already at a high level, the findings will lead to additional studies and more research, notably determining the optimal dose of fish oils and the best point at pregnancy when to begin the supplement.

Pregnant women are encouraged talk to their doctors about the need for increased intake of the fatty acids found in fish oils. For some, the levels consumed by their prenatal vitamin will be sufficient, while others may need additional DHA and EPA from a supplement. 

Tags:  asthma  medical study 

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Healthy Start to the New Year -- plus recipe

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Updated: Monday, January 2, 2017

When introducing new foods, it’s helpful to give kids what I call a “food bridge”—an easy path to help them travel from familiar foods to new foods. Take, for example, risotto with sautéed kale and bacon. Your kids probably like the flavor of pasta. Invite them to take a taster—one very, very, small bite—of one small piece of rice. Build on that by inviting a taste of bacon. They probably like that flavor too. Then work towards combining flavors. Try bacon and risotto, two approved tastes, with a teeny, tiny speck of kale. Then stop right there. In trying to get kids to give something new a try, set expectations! A teeny, tiny taster is all you need to start building a deeper love of wholesome foods. You don’t need them to eat a full plate, or even a whole serving. You just need them to be willing to try again (and again). It can take upwards of 15 exposures to a new food before your child might warm up to it. Big servings will only overwhelm reluctant eaters. Use espresso cups or small teaspoons to serve up your tasters. Remember: Small steps will get you there, not one great leap forward only to stumble backwards.    


When you’re ready to take your new food adventures to the next level, it’s time to start cooking together. As a busy parent, I know that can feel onerous. But what if I told you that all it takes is 30 minutes each week? That in the time you’d spend watching an episode of Modern Family, you’ll help your child build skills that are just as important as math and reading? Kids who cook their own food are more likely to eat wholesome foods, for a lifetime. Even more, the diets of young children have been directly linked to their health as adults. The key is to cook with your kids, not for your kids. And to get past the mental barrier of cooking with kids, you need to reframe it.

 

Instead of thinking of cooking as a chore (“I just need to get dinner on the table!”) or a big, fat mess (“Cooking with my kids is chaotic!”), think of cooking like a craft activity. Set up your cooking project on a low kids table, with all of your supplies within easy reach. Forget about working at the kitchen counter—it’s too high for kids even when they’re perched on a stool. Focus on exploring together, rather than creating the perfect dish. Let your kids do as much of the measuring, stirring, chopping, and sautéing as you can handle. Muster the patience you need to let go and let them do it, for 30 minutes (tip: have them work over a baking sheet to help contain the mess). The more freedom you afford them, the greater the payoff.


Brussels Sprouts Chips Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves 4


Ingredients:

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon kosher salt


Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Using your fingers, peel away the leaves from the sprouts.

3. Place the leaves on a rimmed baking sheet. Add the oil and salt and toss to combine.

4. Bake for 10 minutes, then toss the leaves in the pan. Reduce the heat to 250°F and bake the sprouts for 10 minutes more, or until the leaves are crispy and almost burnt. Let your kids watch closely to figure out the best timing for your oven.


Tip: To peel the leaves, cut off the ends, turn the sprouts over, and gently pry the leaves away sta

rting at the stem. Trim off the ends as you go to make it easier to peel away the layers. This takes patience (and time), but it’s a fun activity for your kids. As you get closer to the center, the leaves will become too tight to peel, so simply save the small pieces for sautéing or roasting.


Cook Together

Kids can pry sprouts from the stalks and peel away the leaves. This step takes some patience, but the delicious reward is well worth their effort!


Eat Your Colors

These little cabbages may be small in size, but they’re big on Vitamin C!


Invite Exploration

Ask kids, “I wonder if Brussels sprouts taste different depending on their color?” Then experiment together to find out!


Keep Trying

Brussels Sprouts can be bitter for burgeoning palettes. The secret to mellowing their flavor is roasting. Kids love the crispy, almost burnt leaves.


Reprinted from The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes.


A mom of two, Jennifer Tyler Lee is the author of  The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year and the creator of the award-winning series of healthy eating games, Crunch a Color®. 

Tags:  cooking  food  recipe 

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Steps to a Safe Sleep Environment for Your Baby

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, December 27, 2016

There is more to baby proofing your home than just setting up gates and locks. You can start your baby proofing off by making sure your baby has a safe sleep environment. Newborns sleep an average of 16 hours a day. We want to make sure that your infant’s sleep environment is a safe place since they spend most of their time there. Taking the time to consider these important measures could help ensure the safety of your child as well as the health and happiness of the family.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death in infants 1 to 12 months of age. To help keep your baby protected you can follow these simple guidelines:

Welcome Home Baby
To set the safest scene for your newborn’s homecoming be careful when choosing the type and placement of your baby’s sleeping area.

  • The space between crib bars should be no more than 2-3/8 inches, so that the baby cannot get his/her head caught between the slats.

  • There should be no more than 2 finger widths of space between the mattress and the side of the crib. This helps prevent risk of suffocation after falling in between.

  • Remove all toys and loose blanketing from the crib when the baby is inside to avoid choking and suffocation hazards.

  • Remove all toys that are strung across the crib when the infant is 5 months old or can push up onto his hands and knees, as they create a strangulation hazard.

  • Do not put the crib or any other furniture near windows. Windows pose many dangers, including climbing and falling hazards. Place cord wind-ups on all window cords to decrease strangulation hazards.

  • Avoid putting the baby to sleep in an adult bed. Bed sharing does create a risk of parents accidentally rolling too close or onto their child.

Sweet Dreams
As you may know, the more rest your baby gets, the more rest you get. It is important to take the necessary precautions when getting ready for bed, to secure a good night’s sleep for the whole family. When you put your baby down to sleep:

  • Always place normal healthy newborns on their back to sleep. Research shows the risk of SIDS is higher for babies who sleep on their side or stomach.

  • The baby should sleep on a firm/flat surface. Soft mattresses are prone to sinking and can create a suffocation hazard.

  • Babies do not need pillows, sleep-positioners or wedges, loose blanketing, stuffed animals or bumpers. All of these products are possible suffocation hazards.

  • The baby should sleep in a separate bed from his parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a separate but proximate sleeping environment.

  • Avoid over- and underdressing infants. Babies should wear only one more layer than you are wearing, and ideal room temperature is between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

And Many More
There are steps you can take inside and out of the house to provide the means for your baby to live a full and happy life. Many of these measures will help reduce the risk of SIDS.

  • Do not expose babies to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke will introduce harmful chemicals that could prove fatal to an infant’s immune system.

  • Breastfed babies have a lower incidence of SIDS than formula-fed babies. Breast milk contains many essential nutrients that provide health benefits including improved breathing/swallowing coordination and immune strength to fight infection.

  • Consider giving your baby a pacifier. Some studies have shown a strong link between pacifier use and lower risk of SIDS. If you are breastfeeding make sure that the feedings are going well, before introducing a pacifier. It usually takes 3-5 weeks for breast feeding to go smoothly for both mom and baby.

 
 

Kira Nickel is a perinatal educator at El Camino HospitalFor more information specific to childbirth and parenting, El Camino Hospital offers a variety of classes to support new and expectant parents. To find an upcoming class, search www.elcaminohospital.org or call 650-940-7302.

 
 

Tags:  parenting 

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The Reason Every Kid Should Talk Back to Their Parents

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The parent in me wants to squash every little insurrection as quickly as possible. But the psychologist in me is glad when my children say “No.” This is why…


Sunlight is dawning across the living room floor, and the dollhouse is full of Lego Star Wars action figures. They’re sleeping in beds, sitting on toilets, cooking breakfast, and one rogue Jedi is standing on the roof. On an early autumn morning, my daughter and I play dollhouse as the rest of the household slumbers.

 

Her older brother wakes up, walks into the room rubbing his eyes clear, and sees his new birthday presents defiled by a dollhouse. A look of horror takes over his face—like his dog is lying dead in the road—and he pushes past us to snatch up his action figures.

 

I hold out my hand and try to be patient. “Give them to me.”

He looks at me, and his horror becomes an oppositional “No!”

The parent in me feels like a failure because I’m not being respected. The parent in me gets angry because I feel out of control and I’m supposed to be “in charge.” And the human in me feels just plain sad, because the morning just got a whole lot harder.

But the psychologist in me is secretly thrilled he said “No.”

Because the inability to say “No”—the inability to set personal boundaries—is one of the most common, insidious causes of human suffering.

When we can’t say “No:”
we become a sponge for the feelings of everyone around us and we eventually become saturated by the needs of everyone else while our own hearts wilt and die,

- we become a sponge for the feelings of everyone around us and we eventually become saturated by the needs of everyone else while our own hearts wilt and die,

- we begin to live our lives according to the forceful should of others, rather than the whispered, passionate want of our own hearts,

- we let everyone else tell us what story to live and we cease to be the author of our own lives,

- we lose our voice—we lose the desire planted in our souls and the very unique way in which we might live out that desire in the world,

- we get used by the world instead of being useful in the world,

- we give in to the pressure of a friend and we drink and drive and we endanger lives,

- we cave in to a persuasive boyfriend and we end up pregnant,

- we get taken in by a sales pitch and we bury ourselves in oppressive debt,

- we get abused by a boss and end up with long hours at work and a short fuse at home,

- we cater to our kids’ every need and we begin to resent their demands and we fantasize about a deserted island in the Caribbean,

- we submit to unhealthy partners and they keep drinking or working or gambling or flirting and we end up in the backseat of our own lives.

 

There is no end to the ways our lives are diminished by our inability to say “No.” And when a client of mine is being wrecked by porous boundaries, I will often ask this question: “How did your parents respond when you said ‘No’ as a child?” And I will almost always hear this answer: “Oh, you wouldn’t dare say ‘No’ to my parents.”

 

So, on an early autumn morning, I’m faced with a decision. Do I squash this little rebellion? Raise my voice? Demand that he share? Threaten something? Threaten anything? Or do I take a deep breath and remember the reason it is sometimes good to say “yes” to the word “no:”

 

Our families are where we first learn how to say “No” in a safe, supportive environment. If we don’t learn to do so there, we won’t learn to do so anywhere. If our children can’t say “No” to us, they won’t say it to anyone.

 

When my son is offered a bunch of pills or my daughter is offered the backseat of a car, I want my kids to have had a lot of practice at saying “No.” Someday, there will be more at stake than a bunch of Lego action figures and, by then, I want them to know their worth isn’t jeopardized one iota when they don’t give themselves away to everyone around them.

 

I want them to know their voice matters.

 

I want them to know they are the author of their own story.

 

Do children need to learn to set boundaries assertively rather than aggressively? Yes. Do they need to learn the art of compromise? Definitely. Do they need to learn to wisely choose moments of submission? Absolutely.

 

But all of that learning begins with a “No.”

 

Because the truth is, you can’t truly say “Yes” until you can say “No.” We need to know we have a choice in life. The freedom to say “No” is the very beginning of our ability to say “Yes.” To ourselves. To life. And to love.

 

So, on an early autumn morning, I can come down on him, or I can bend down to him. Some days the “parent” in me wins. And I think that’s alright. Sometimes our kids need a parent who won’t bend. But on this particular day I bend, because I figure anyone who looks like his dog just died may have a little more to say.

 

And what does my “obstinate” son have to say?

 

“Dad, they’re mine and I get to decide if she can play with them.” As he picks out several of his new action figures to return to his sister.

 

A kid in charge of his own sharing and giving. A “No” that reminds me it’s good to ask before you take. A “No” that teaches me his heart is young and restless and messy, but also full of charity. A “No” that lays the foundation for an authentic “Yes.”

 

Because, in the end, we can’t truly say “Yes” to our own voice and the language of love it is speaking, until we’ve been allowed to say “No” to the voices all around us.

 

Which is why, more and more, I’m happy to say “Yes” to the word “No.”

Dr. Kelly Flanagan is a clinical psychologist and a writer. He is married with three children, and enjoys reading and learning from his children how to be a kid again.

 


Tags:  child development  parenting 

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Navigating Holiday Dinners with a Picky Eater: A No Stress Holiday Guide

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Holiday dinners can be stressful, even for the most experienced parents. They are many times more stressful if you have a picky eater at your table. What you need is a foolproof plan that takes the stress out and puts the fun in.

 

Never is there a greater focus on food than at the holidays. And for parents of picky eaters, holiday meals can be immensely stressful family situations to navigate. If it wasn’t bad enough that you have to endure the never-ending playback of family stories from Great Aunt Bea, fate deals you a bum hand and you’re trapped at a linen-lined table with hot dogs hidden in your purse—poised to pounce when your toddler refuses everything on the table except the dinner rolls. Layering stress upon stress is a recipe for a meltdown, for both you and your child.

 

I know, because I’ve walked more than a mile in those shoes.

 

I’m here to tell you that there’s a simple solution to your picky eater problem. And it’s counter-intuitive. To get your kids to eat what’s good for them, you need to take a page from the junk food marketing playbook. Stop talking about “healthy.” Take the focus off the food and make it fun.

 

After years of testing, experimenting, tweaking, researching, gathering feedback from and cooking with thousands of parents of picky eaters across the country, I’ve distilled my experiences down to a few simple principles you can follow to take the stress out of mealtime and get your kids to actually eat the wholesome foods you make. And there’s more good news: what works for your standard, run-of-the-mill weeknight meals can be applied just as easily to your holiday meals, with a few small modifications.

 

Set Expectations Over Time

Holiday dinner isn’t the time to expect your kids to be healthy eating rock stars. It’s too much pressure—on everyone. Instead, think small steps, big changes. The key to creating a deep and lasting change in the way that your family eats is to take it slow and be consistent. Take the pressure off the big holiday meals and focus on your longer-term goal. No single meal is going to make the difference; it’s a series of consistent, positive experiences around food that will.

 

Explore Together

In the weeks leading up to the holiday, plan to explore a few new foods together. Try one each week. You don’t want the first encounter with a new food to be at a high pressure holiday dinner. Holiday regulars that can be super fun to explore with kids include Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, butternut squash, pomegranate and persimmons. Instead of concentrating on eating, focus on fun adventures that the food inspires, like figuring out how to get the seeds out of a pomegranate, peeling Brussels sprouts (and finding the Fibonacci sequence inside—a fantastic math adventure), and scouting out a bunch of different varieties of pumpkins at a local farm. Let your kids lead your new food exploration. Prompt them with open-ended questions like, “I wonder if the color on the inside of a pumpkin changes depending on the color on the outside?” Follow their questions with more questions, like, “I’m not sure why Brussels sprouts grow on a stalk. Let’s explore together to find out.” Remember, it’s about the journey, not the food.

 

Reinstate the Kids’ Menu (With a Twist)

The more you can involve your kids in everything, from choosing food for your meals to preparing the dishes, the faster you’ll be able to make progress changing the way your picky eater eats. An easy way to do this during the holidays is to enlist your kids to help create the menu. It is even better if you cook the recipes together and then let them serve. Do not have a separate kids menu. It’s fine to prepare dishes in a way that allows everyone at the table to assemble to their preference—more or less onion, sauce on the side—but it’s important for everyone to be eating the same meal. Invite your kids to help make the menu, and create names for each dish featuring the person who voted for it: Mom’s Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Catherine’s Brussels Sprouts Chips, James’ Jumpin’ Green Beans, Gram’s Classic Roast Turkey, Dad’s Downhome Quinoa Stuffing, Papa’s Poppin’ Pomegranate Sauce. When you give thanks, invite each person to share why they added their dish to the menu. It’s an easy way to get everyone involved, and your kids will beam with pride when the time comes to serve (and eat) their signature dish.

 

Don’t Say the H Word

There is one word that parents should never utter. No matter how many battles there are over broccoli, if you want your kids to eat wholesome food, and build a lifetime of good eating habits, don’t dare say it’s “healthy.” When Great Aunt Bea pipes in with, “Eat your greens, James! They’ll help you grow big and strong,” you have my permission to tell her to zip it. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research confirms what junk food marketers have known for a long time: telling kids a food is healthy will make them eat less of it. In a study of preschool-aged children, researchers found that when you tell kids a food makes them strong, a perceived health benefit, they’ll conclude the food is not as tasty and consume less of it. It turns out you’d be better off if you said nothing at all. Instead, talk about the deeply delicious flavor of the Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon, or the sinfully savory flavor of the homemade butternut squash soup. When your kids see you thoroughly enjoying the food you’ve made together, they’ll be many times more inclined to give something new a try.

 
A mom of two, Jennifer Tyler Lee is the author of The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year and the creator of the award-winning series of healthy eating games, Crunch a Color®.

Tags:  food  parenting 

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Five Ways to Keep Cool During Holiday Tantrums

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Holidays are a mixed blessing. On one hand, we have generosity, friendly faces, gifts, great food, community engagement and more family time. On the other hand, holiday times are packed full of distractions, stimulating music, money demands, sugary food, expectations to be cheerful and lots of social events.

 

Along with the excitement  may come a spinning head, frustration and tiredness. This can be even more difficult with small children and sensitive kiddos. The extra hype needs some redirection, containment and plain ole’ patience. Below are some tips for how to prepare, deal in the moment of overwhelm and how to recover.


1. Anticipate it.

Listen, we would all love to get through the holidays without any extra drama. The holidays do offer a lot of special times -- and I don’t mean to detract from any of the warmth, love or generosity of the holiday season. However, sometimes an overly cheerful outlook makes the upsets feel that much more disappointing. Measure your experience against the imagined expectation can lead to making the upsets worse than they are.

If your child has a hard time with late nights, a loose schedule or meeting a lot of people, it can be helpful to acknowledge this prior to going to a party. It may be helpful to make a plan, but don’t expect the plan to work 100%. Speak to your child about the potential that they might get tired, overwhelmed, scared or frustrated and consider some ways to take a break before the melt down happens. Maybe you can have a tag-team agreement with other caregivers, and take turns in “reboot time” with your child. This holiday give your child/children and yourself some space for unexpected meltdowns by anticipating they will happen.


2. Wait. This too Shall Pass.  

When your child starts throwing the sugar cookies on the floor, shrieking and pulling at your dress, you may be tempted to end that tantrum, then and there. The challenge is that when we try to get it under control, it often makes it worse. Perhaps take a deep breath and remind yourself this child is acting how most kids would in an overwhelming situation. Don’t add fuel to the fire by yelling back.

 

Take a deep breath and give some firm and supportive physical contact sending the message that you hear the tantrum loud and clear. Perhaps redirect the child into a different room after a minute has passed, and let the child know you are going to help them contain these feelings rather then try to force the feelings away.


3. Validate it.  

Let your child know you feel their pain. Perhaps put yourself in their shoes and say something like, “I understand you are angry or sad.” It is helpful to remind your child that you are there to help. Maybe that means you hold your child, maybe that means you walk to a different area or simply redirect them to a toy or something funny.


4. Have a recovery method.

All kids need methods to soothe and recover from too much stimulation. These tools can be identified and utilized preventatively as well as once your child has become overwhelmed. Maybe you can set reminders on your phone to take your child into a quiet room for a break away from the crowd and noise. Perhaps your child will spend most of the time in a room alone and take breaks by meeting people and having snacks for a limited amount of time. Bring some soothing music, a book, stuffed animals, a beverage and any other calming tools. Often taking space away from the crowd, with a caregiver, can provide relief for a child that is easily overwhelmed by too much going on around them.


5. Parents set the rhythm.

Remember that as the parent, you know your child best. Be reasonable when making holiday plans. Assess what is best for you and your family and what you are willing to put up with.


There is a lot of pressure to be ONLY cheerful during the holiday season. It is possible that forcing too much cheerfulness may backfire. Allow yourself to turn down some of the holiday busy-ness if it doesn’t work for you. Listen for cues from your kids, but ultimately remember you are the one setting the pace and enforcing the break times and schedule. So allow for the holiday spirit to be alive -- full of love laughter and tears.


Find out more about Esther Krohner here.


 

Tags:  child development 

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Holiday Structure for Families

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, December 27, 2016

OK, if you are like me, you look forward to giving your kids some downtime when the end-of-year holidays hit. But let's face it. Having school-age kids home for a two-week break is certainly a blessing -- but it can also be a little bit difficult.


This is often due to a need for structure. Busy and overscheduled kids, when faced with two weeks and nothing planned, may go a little nuts. The transition and its aftermath could stress the whole family out.


My three kids are not immune. They, like the majority of children, do best with predictability and a set routine. So, what do we do in our household?


I’ve found that a calendar or visual schedule is helpful. Whether a child is excited or laid back in nature, we need to manage their expectations. This doesn't require scheduling every second. Instead, we aim for balance. This means maybe a little computer time, maybe some free choice, maybe cleaning their room and maybe a shopping trip. Putting these activities into a schedule and creating some structure can help kids regulate their body and emotions.


It’s all because a certain amount of predictability is very good for developing minds. (Come to think of it, it’s good for adults, too!)


For our family, we love hikes. Certainly we’ll schedule some shopping and visiting friends over the holidays, but what works best in our home is knowing we are doing something together that is healthy and fun. This type of physical activity provides a grounding for the kids -- sort of an anchor, and one that’s very life-affirming.


Of course, if you celebrate Christmas, there’s that post-holiday crash. The kids are all revved up, which means that putting together an after-Christmas schedule is extremely important. The excitement and emotion of the big day can be overwhelming, and most kids need a schedule that brings them back to reality soon after.

 

Dr. Trenna Sutcliffe loves kids, families, pets, travel and hiking. Discover more about her work here.

Tags:  parenting 

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