My husband and I were sitting at our dinner table many years ago, trying to get our young daughter to eat all of her peas so she would have a ”clean” plate.
We tried coaxing then scolding, but she wouldn’t finish eating the peas. Everyone at the table was frustrated.
And then, it dawned on both of us. … She doesn’t have to finish eating her peas. And, suddenly, everyone at the table was relaxed and happier.
During my childhood I had adopted this notion you were supposed to eat everything on your plate.
I remember having to sit at the table until I had eaten most of my slice of pumpkin pie. I hated pumpkin pie. Love it now, but not then. But that was more a lesson of ‘if you put it on your plate, you need to eat it’ or that I should try new things. Not sure which.
Then, there was the time in kindergarten when I had to stay in the cafeteria and finish my meal and miss recess. I tried to tell the teacher I didn’t want to eat — I think it was chicken fried steak — but she was very stern and insisted I finish. She left a classmate to guard me to make sure I finished.
A few bites more, and I was vomiting in the trash can. See, I really didn’t want to eat it.
But, fast-forward, and we know now that forcing kids to eat everything on their plates isn’t necessarily a good idea. And, truly, the starving children in another country are not going to benefit or suffer more or less if your child leaves half of her sandwich from lunch every once in a while.
As grownups we hear “portion control,” so we need to make sure we’re not forcing our children to eat if they’re full. Maybe, in the future, they won’t have as many problems with controlling what they eat.
March is National Nutrition Month, and in connection with that, Fresh Healthy Eating, a San Diego-based company, offered these helpful tips for parents:
- Limit snacks. Children who fill up on a lot of calories from snacks eat less at meal times, and usually the snacks are not all that nutritious. Limit calories that come from snacking, and offer snacks that are healthy, such as a sliced apple with peanut butter, or vegetables they can dip into hummus.
- Eat more fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables offer a lot of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants. In addition to including some in snacking, aim to make fruits and vegetables half of their plate at mealtime.
- Watch the sugar. Added sugars fill kids up with empty calories. Pay attention to the amount of sugar that is in food and how much they are consuming.
- Avoid the clean plate club. Many parents try to get their children to clean their plate by eating all the food on it. Problem is, children are in tune with their body cues and tend to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. When parents make them eat everything on their plate, they teach them to ignore their hunger cues, which can potentially lead to obesity problems later on. Ideally, parents should start with small amounts of food on the plate, so it’s not so overwhelming.
- Model healthy eating. One of the most important tools in getting kids to eat healthily is to model that behavior. Children who have parents who eat healthily tend to grow up eating in a more healthy way themselves.
By the way, peas are now one of my daughter’s favorite vegetables.
It seems like it was just last week I was pushing around my little man in a stroller … able to contain him in any environment – the mall, the zoo, the arts festival.
But just a few short weeks ago, my baby turned 5 and I found myself registering him for kindergarten, setting up his big-boy bed in his room, and holding my breath as he went on the kiddie roller-coaster at the local amusement park.
Of course, it was a nonstop celebration to honor Hunter’s turning 5. It was a day he’d been anxious for and with all the begging and pleading, it still couldn’t come quick enough for him. For me? It’s always too quick.
A week full of a visit from Gwennie (as grandma is so affectionately called) culminated in the party of the century with a big dancing, talking mouse (any guesses?). A chocolate-only cake, decorated in Star Wars fashion was on the menu, topped with Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker with real working light sabres (it doesn’t get cooler than that). Friends, family and even a girlfriend (yes, girlfriend!) made the event extra special for my little guy.
And it seems things have changed overnight. My 5-year-old is already going on 15. The phrases he uses, the facial expressions, the eye-rolls … the ones that say “Mom, you are so not cool” when I’m trying to make him laugh. Worrying about giving his mom kisses in public … worrying about whether his jeans are “regular” or “skinny” and if his shirt is tucked just right. He’ll readily stick up for friends if they find themselves on the receiving end of a bully’s push. And he still manages to tell me how pretty he thinks I am and but now adds how he thinks I should wear my hair.
He’s truly turning into his own little man. As fast as it goes, it gets better every day.
Tomorrow and Saturday (March 11-12), Verizon Wireless will celebrate the opening of a new store at Quail Springs Mall with events for kids and adults alike.
According to a news release, the fun will begin with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. Friday, during which the company will present a $1,000 check to YWCA of Oklahoma City. And for all us techie parents, at 5 p.m., the store will unveil the new iPad 2.
Festivities will continue from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the store’s Kids’ Day, with FREE family activities, such as face-painting, a moon bounce, complimentary tacos from Big Truck Tacos (YUM!!) and prize giveaways.
“The focus is around family and getting the children involved,” said Michael Perry, Quail Springs store manager.
My 5-year-old son just started wanting his crackers lined up — perfectly. If one cracker is turned a little to the left or right, he protests.
The first time I noticed this was when he seemed cranky, distressed. I tried everything to appease him, thinking he might be wanting a different snack, might feel bad or maybe was just tired.
Then, I straightened his crackers, and the clouds parted.
This isn’t my first experience with childhood obsessions. My oldest daughter started lining up her toys at a young age. My youngest daughter had to have her silverware laid out properly on a napkin (even if paper) when we went to restaurants. This was rarely successful after our son was born, since he tended to grab anything that was on the table.
My sister tells a story about when our first child spent the night at her house. My daughter was crying about wanting her red socks. Those particular red socks were filthy, but my sister dug them out of the laundry and put them on my little daughter’s feet. … ahh, peace.
This is the same girl who would have me take her shoes off until I could get the little seam on the end of her tights to stay on top of her toes, instead of at the ends of her toes.
It’s these little things that can stress a parent — and a child.
Our son always says, “Thank you” and “Bless you.” But you better be quick with a return, “You’re welcome.” He demands it.
At least he has good manners.
A huge permanent tooth … nestled right behind two baby on my 4-year-old’s bottom row. I started calling him “shark tooth” because it reminded me of the multiple rows of teeth sharks have, and because he thought the name was cool.
Then the wiggles started. Those two precious baby teeth … the first ones to sprout when he was just a baby … started to wiggle. I called his dentist and in he went to get it checked.
“Ms. Smith, the dentist will need to extract the two bottom front baby teeth.” Extract?? At 4 years old? Even the dental assistant remarked at how early this was for baby teeth to come out. And I suddenly found myself unprepared. I had no tooth pillow, no little treasure box, no cash! And my son didn’t even know who the Tooth Fairy was. Not to mention the emotional unpreparedness. I wasn’t ready for anything “baby” to go … and it does go … way too fast.
In the end, it all worked out. My boy was a trooper – not one tear shed and he was all smiles, even with the huge gauze pad stuck in his mouth. The dentist put his teeth inside a little glittery tooth-shaped box for the Tooth Fairy to snap up. And I made that trip to the ATM.
Here’s some news from the Oklahoma City Zoo:
The Zoo’s Education department is offering a mother’s day out program beginning in February. The program will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nature Explorers Mother’s Day Out Program will run from Feb. 15 to May 26 and is for children ages 3 and 4. (Child must be 3 or 4 on or before September 1, 2010.)
The program will promote interaction skills, self direction, language skills, intellectual growth and environmental awareness.
For more information, including a program handbook, tuition costs and registration forms, go to http://zoofieldtrips.publishpath.com/explorers.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Sprite are teaming up for a contest in honor of Black History Month, the Thunder announced in a release. Children from kindergarten through grade 12 can participate. Read on and best of luck!
Hey kids! I would like to extend a special invitation to you.
The Thunder and Sprite invite students, grades K-12, to participate in the third annual Black History Heroes Challenge. In honor of Black History Month, students are encouraged to submit a creative piece highlighting their hero from black history. By entering, students become eligible to win prizes courtesy of the Thunder.
Students may either submit one essay or poem that describes what makes a specific individual a black history hero or a hero in their personal life, or one visual arts piece that illustrates their hero along with a descriptive paragraph.
Please click on the link below or visit thunder.nba.com for more information.
Toddler Programs: Come experience nature in a safe and happy environment! Your toddler will delight in our animals through crafts, activities, discovery stations, animal visitors and guided zoo excursions. Ages 2-3 and 4-5. Call for dates and times.
School’s Out Safari Day Camps: Monday, Jan. 17
Looking for a unique adventure for your children while they are home on school holidays? Join us for a day loaded with arts, crafts, games, zoo tours and animal encounters. Offers flexible drop off and pick up times.
- Meet 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Zoo’s Education Building
- Cost per child per day is $35 and each additional sibling is $25
- Require advance registration (space is limited) and payment
- Snacks provided but children must bring their own lunch
- Ages 4-12 years
Saturday, Jan. 15 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Ages 3 and up
Brr! Tired of the cold weather? Our cold-loving animal friends aren’t! Join us for a cool afternoon of animal fun that is sure to warm your heart.
Oh, Pooh Bear!
Thursday, Jan. 20 or Saturday, Jan. 22 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
It’s a Pooh party! Celebrate 84 years of this willy-nilly bear. Enjoy crafts, snacks and a meet-n-greet with Pooh’s woodland friends.
Get Ready and Draw Art Classes
Saturday, Jan. 29 from 10:30 a.m to noon
Pooper Bowl Party
Saturday, Jan. 29 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
This interactive program will give families the scoop on poop through games, crafts, stories, songs, treks and other hidden surprises.
Habitat Box Teacher Workshops: Saturday, Jan. 22 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (tundra, rainforest & grassland) and Saturday, Feb. 5 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (wetland, temperature forest and desert)
Back by popular demand! These teacher make-n-take workshops allow you to create your very own set of classroom “Habitat Boxes”. Each box includes items, artifacts and curriculum specific to each habitat. You may sign up for one or both sessions. This workshop is appropriate for formal, non-formal and homeschool educators.
Saturday, Jan. 29 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
It’s a wild, wild world! Come explore some of our wild things while earning your “Sharing Your World with Wildlife” Bear Cub Achievement! (Bear Cub Scouts: 3rd grade)
You’ve Got the Whole World in Your Hands
Saturday, Jan. 29 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Our earth is in trouble and only you can save it! Join us to learn how you can help while earning your “Your Living World” Wolf Cub Achievement! (Wolf Cub Scouts: 2nd grade)
All programs require pre-registration. Call 405.425.0218 for more information or to register.
Playing Santa is supposed to be fun, right? I mean, it IS fun. It’s kind of a rush putting together toys at midnight because that’s when you know your 4-year-old is really really asleep. Getting all of them wrapped up, arranging them just so under the tree.
But I couldn’t help but feel a tad guilty. My son and I were getting all ready for Santa on Christmas Eve. He counted out 8 carrots for the reindeer and put them in a bowl on our porch. He picked out 3 Christmas cookies he made himself, for Santa, and put them by the fireplace. He even moved them over from their original position so Santa wouldn’t mistakenly step on them on his way out of the chimney.
The look on my boy’s face was enough to make my heart melt. His eyes were wide, his voice full of excitement and anticipation. But I couldn’t help but feel just a little guilty. I felt like I was putting all this false hope into him, almost lying to him in a way. It’s strange, because as a girl, I held on to my belief in Santa for much longer than my peers. And although I think it had a lot to do with my mom’s threat … “if you don’t believe, you don’t get presents” … I think a big part of me just didn’t want to let it go of the magic.
I asked my mom if she felt the Santa Guilt with me and my brother. She said “No way.” Maybe I’m being a little oversensitive. I mean, it was a perfect Christmas. And there is something magical about a little guy waking up and counting the carrots in the bowl and saying “I really need to thank Santa for my presents.”
What about you? Did you have a twinge of Santa guilt this season? Let me know!
With the holidays quickly approaching, and the biggest shopping day of the year this Friday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission releases its “top tips for a safer holiday toy shopping and playing experience.”
1. Always choose age-appropriate toys for children. Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.
2. Include safety gear whenever shopping for sports-related gifts or ride-on toys including bicycles, skates and scooters. Helmets and other safety gear should be worn properly and be sized to fit.
3. Be aware of your child’s surroundings during play. Young children should avoid playing with ride-on toys near streets and traffic, pools or ponds. They should avoid playing in indoor areas near hazards such as kitchens, bathrooms or rooms with corded window blinds.
4. Once gifts are opened, immediately discard plastic wrappings or other packaging from toys.
5. Battery-charging should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose a thermal burn hazard to young children.
6. For children younger than 3, avoid toys with small parts and small balls. For Children younger than 6, avoid toys with small magnets. Keep all young children away from broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children 8 and younger. Balloons are a choking hazard.