Tips, Tools and Activities
Research has shown that families who eat together eat healthier meals. Families that plan their menus on a weekly basis also save time and money. Here are a few tips to help your family get started.
- Remember: Parents prepare and put food on the table. Children choose whether or not to eat and how much to eat, based on their personal level of hunger.
- Establish a general structure for meal and snack times. Allow eating only at these times. Most young children need three meals and two snacks per day, but by the age of eight, three meals and an afternoon snack are plenty.
- Limit eating and snacking to a certain area of the home, such as the dining room or kitchen. Discourage grazing in front of the television or computer.
- Eat as a family as often as possible. Sit down and enjoy each other's company during meals. Kids learn when parents act as positive role models. They will also learn the social pleasures of eating well.
Stay Consistent: Try to ensure that kids stick to a consistent schedule when it comes to bedtime. Doing so will ensure they are getting enough restful sleep. Kids might test you at first until they learn that you are serious, so in the face of delaying tactics, be firm. Try to avoid concessions such as allowing kids to watch TV or read until they fall asleep.
Practice Patience: When children refuse to eat food that is presented to them, adults can grow frustrated. Experts at the Harvard Prevention Research Center suggest that an easier and healthier way to avoiding these mealtime confrontations is by thinking of adults and children as each having different jobs with respect to food. Adults, it is your job to determine what food to offer, purchase and selection of foods, when meals will take place, and where they will be eaten. As for the kids, it is their job to decide whether to eat it or not and how much. It is not the adult’s job to be a made-to-order cook. If the kids do not want to eat what you’ve offered, even if it means not eating at all, then that is their choice. Keep presenting them with healthy, tasty and nutritious foods, and they will begin to eat as their needs dictate. The adult’s food choices and actions are important in this process as well, your actions are speaking volumes to the home.
Is it better to focus a child on one sport he really loves or encourage him to try different ones?
When your kids are young, take the time to introduce them to a wide variety of sports, games and activities. This will give them the opportunities to find things that they enjoy doing and people they enjoy doing them with. By not pushing kids to specialize too early, you will help them to build a well-rounded set of interests and the opportunity to develop an array of skills and passions that will keep them interested, engaged and active for life. Explore the possibilities!
Go to YMCA.net for more Healthy Family Home tools and resources.