Archive for March, 2015

Yummy, Yummy in my Tummy! – Ideas on Healthy Eating for young children

Posted on: March 30th, 2015 by ctpadmin

Yummy, yummy in my tummy!

We hear that we are what we eat!  How important those words can be to parents of young children.  I believe it is very important that we help children form good eating habits right at the beginning of life.  We could start a whole conversation about how we are so busy and we don’t have time to cook, or make meals for our kids.  Often that is true, but it seems that we could spend a little extra time working on our kids’ diets from early on and it will pay big dividends later in their lives.

We know that there is an obesity problem in kids that has reached epidemic proportions.  Often it is cited as a problem of poverty, but I would argue that it can be a problem of not spending the appropriate time planning and working together as a family to make sure everyone eats well.

When my kids were young, I made some good choices and some poor ones in helping them learn healthy eating habits.  One of the best choices I made was to breast feed them, even though I was working full time.  I realize that not everyone can do that, but if you can, it is the healthiest start you can give your child.  One of the poor choices I made was to give my son apple juice as a drink.  He seldom drank water and drank so much (undiluted) apple juice that he was nicknamed “Applejack” before he was 18 months old.  Another good choice was to make their baby food.  I would make it on the weekend and freeze it in ice cube trays for the next week of lunches at the babysitter or when I needed a quick meal at home.  This was a great way to introduce new foods at a very young age.  I would blend up some of the food we adults had for a meal so they were introduced to real foods without added ingredients.

Our family tried to make meal time important and fun at our house and it has been carried on as a tradition in my grandchildren’s homes.  They participate in the planning and making of the meals and consequently are quite diverse in the kinds of food they eat.  One of our grandkids absolutely loves sushi – why?  She was introduced to it at an early age and continues to enjoy it as she grows.  Another of our granddaughters doesn’t like many things. She is a carb-aholic, but her parents insist that she eats what they serve for dinner and she must try new things even if she doesn’t like them.  She always can be found with some carrots on her plate as they are the food for when all else fails!

French toast 2

Cracking eggs for French Toast

French toastg 3

Sharing French Toast with our friends!

Cooking for even toddlers can be a great learning tool for healthy meals.  Yes, it’s more work, but in the end it will pay big dividends.  Toddlers can beat eggs, preschoolers can measure ingredients, and school aged children can cook some things themselves.  Of course, supervision and common sense are needed around knives and hot surfaces, but when a child helped make an item, there is greater ownership for them.  Some of my best pictures are of my grandkids helping in the kitchen with their mom or dad.

Giving kids choices is very important.  You choose the cereal that you want in the house.  With two kinds, you may offer your child an option.  They will feel more control.  When making a sandwich, ask your child if they would like the piece in triangles or rectangles.  You can even throw squares into the mix as well as using a cookie cutter to cut a fun shape for their sandwich.  This is another opportunity to introduce a new food in a fun way without a big battle.

One of the most important things you can teach your child is the importance of drinking water.  If that is what you give them in between meals, that is what they will drink.  Please refrain from giving them sugary drinks like Kool-aid, or soda.  Diet soda is probably worse than anything (shared by a person who has kicked an addiction to Diet Coke).  Water is refreshing and healthy.

Sometimes we see very odd lunches at the preschool – pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, prepackaged lunches that consist of crackers, cheese and pepperoni (all processed foods), highly sweetened yogurt, etc.  These are all convenience foods that are just that – convenient.  However, you might actually save money on your grocery bill by cutting up fruit and veggies, or sending a child with a thermos of leftovers from yesterday’s dinner and in the process, give them the healthy meals they deserve.

Below you will find two excellent sites that may be helpful to you in assessing and working toward creating healthy eating for your child.  Yummy, yummy, in my  tummy!



Mama, Dada – The Importance of Talking to Your Child

Posted on: March 12th, 2015 by ctpadmin

How do we help our children develop?  One of the most important ways we can help children grow to be literate adults is to speak to them from the time they are born.

Much discussion is being brought to the forefront on early language acquisition and the way it affects many parts of the child’s development.  In all the reading I have done on this subject and from my personal experience watching children grow, I am convinced that the most important way to help a child with language acquisition is to talk to him/her.

concept buildingLet’s think about the way we all learn to run.  First we creep, then we crawl, then we stand, then we totter as we walk, then we walk with more assurance.  Along the way, we may try to run, but we always must return to acquiring the walking skill first.  Eventually, we will run.  Language is very much like this.  First a child listens, then babbles, then tries simple sounds, progressing to one syllable words, on to simple two syllable words, and then truly recognizable words.  Eventually, these words will be strung together into sentences, at first simple and probably without connecting words.  This is all part of the development of language.

I tell my piano students all the time that practicing is very important, and it is more important to do it every day in small chunks than to sit down on the last day and practice hours.  We don’t have to tell young children to practice language because they are doing it naturally every time they listen to someone speaking or when they are babbling.    We do have to be aware of just how much children learn as they listen – it might not be appropriate language!

That being said, it is important to speak to your child.  Language acquisition has been shown to be linked to socio-economic situations but can be corrected with education for  parents.  One study in 2003 showed that children followed from seven months to four years showed disparate rates of language acquisition.  “Children in well-off families-where the parents were typically college-educated professionals-heard an average of 2,153 words an hour spoken to them, whereas children in families on welfare heard an average of 616 words.  By the age of four this difference translated to a cumulative gap of some 30 million words” (Bhattacharjec 70-71).

Another experiment was done where children nine months old from English-speaking families were taught Mandarin by native speaking Chinese tutors through play and reading.  Another group was taught by the same tutors through video, and a third group was taught through the audio track of the video.  At the end of the study, children who had the live tutors were able to differentiate as well as native children.  Neither of the other groups showed any learning (71).language for a group

I found this terribly frightening.  What a responsibility we have to speak with our children.  As we talk, sing, and read, we are introducing sounds, vocabulary, ideas, and concepts that will grow our children to healthy, literate adults.

You might find the following links interesting reading on this topic:

Works Cited

Bhattacharjec, Yudhijit. “Baby Brains.” National Geographic January 2015: 70-71. Print.

More Than Please and Thank You

Posted on: March 2nd, 2015 by ctpadmin

How Do We Foster Manners in Children?

Have you ever been a situation when a child doesn’t exhibit manners that should be a simple matter? I find that I always seem to have that “teacher hat” on and want to fix manners.  My reason is to try to make a better world where kids are concerned about others, not just themselves.welcome-handshake

What are manners?  We often think the “please” and “thank you” covers it all.  I disagree.  It is about respect – for individuals, groups, our world, institutions, and nature.  Having manners doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything about the aforementioned, but we should be able to voice ourselves keeping in mind respect for others’ opinions, as well as respect for places we may be.

Having manners  may be dressing appropriately for a particular situation.  Although we are in a very casual society, it would be good to consider that a child or young person should dress in clean and “dress-up” clothes for a concert rather than show up in their play-clothes.

For very young children, we begin by modeling manners.  When an infant gives you a toy, saying thank you is showing respect for them.  Showing eye contact when you engage with a young child or getting on their level to speak with them is another way.

Teaching children to pick up their toys can be an opportunity for many kinds of manners.   The adult may say “thank you” or “would you please bring me the doll?”  The child will also be learning the importance of caring for the toys in his possession, which is developing respect for things.  This can be started at a very young age.

Although toddlers are extremely self-centered, the concept of sharing or waiting their turn can begin now – another important etiquette skill children should develop.  It should really be paired with patience.  When there is a toy that is popular, begin by giving one child an opportunity to use it while praising another for waiting their turn.  Make the interval for waiting brief so there will be success for each child. An effective means of praise is by acknowledging that it was hard to wait, but the child did it.

When my children were young, whenever I was talking on the phone (which probably was too much), one of them would be tugging at my skirt or the two of them would start arguing.  It was important for me to say to them, “ Please be patient, I will be with you as soon as I am finished.”  It is also important to be aware of how much time we may be spending on things like the computer, TV, mobile devices and not with our children.  This really goes along with modeling behavior – leave mobile devices away from the dinner table so you can engage in conversation, turn off the TV, show interest in the table manners of everyone present, and eat properly.  Dinner time together will be another topic, but it can be a very rewarding time to build family relationships.

Sometimes it is a struggle to decide to discipline other people’s children, but when kids are in my house, I have rules that I expect will be adhered to. I expect that kids will not jump on furniture, and if I see them doing it, I will speak to them nicely, explaining that we do not treat our property that way. Their parents probably don’t allow them to jump on their furniture either, so I am really reinforcing manners that they already know.  Sometimes we learn more effectively from someone other than those closest to us.

Writing thank you notes – however brief may begin at a very young age.  Have your child draw a picture of the gift they received and you can interpret the picture for the recipient.  One birthday, my grandson, received many presents at his birthday party. He was quite young and not at all fond of writing,ameri so his mom made a form which left a blank for the name of the gift and a place for Ben to write his name.  It was the beginning of a habit which remains today.

I encourage you to consider how you are modeling manners for your children and what we all can do to enlist their help in developing respect for one another and the world around them.  You may find the following link helpful as you consider this important subject in parenting your child.