Growing children require optimum nutrition, plenty of exercise and an environment where encouragement is practiced more than criticism. In this highly competitive world where there is an over emphasis on the end result, it is important for children to understand that labels such as winner or loser (when used), apply only to that game or event, and do not define them as a person.
NOURISHING A CHILD’S MIND
We all learn through a continual combination of experiences and education, but the way we view the world is mainly shaped throughout our early childhood. The manner in which children interact with the authority figures in their lives can have a positive or negative influence on their developing perspectives.
Parents, school teachers, religious leaders, sports coaches, dance and music instructors, and anyone else that spends time with a child on a repeated and regular basis contributes to that child’s developing perspective of the world they live in. An encouraging environment works much better than a threatening environment, so it is in everyone’s best interest for parents to be aware of how children are behaving after spending time with the people entrusted with educating or coaching their children.
It is important to give children a wide range of opportunities in order to reveal their natural abilities, but it is equally important not to overburden them with activities. Finding activities that your child enjoys will help to build their personal sense of confidence and self-esteem.
BUILDING HEALTHY SELF-ESTEEM
Self-esteem is built through accomplishment. Children are learning every day what they are good at and which things they may struggle with. They might be great in math, but no so good at art! It is important for children to understand they don’t have to be good at everything in order to be loved and accepted, but it is equally important for children to find and nurture the things they are good at so they can understand what goal setting is and experience achievement.
BEHAVIORAL AND LEARNING DIFFICULTIES MAY BE DUE TO MALNUTRITION AND/OR FOOD SENSITIVITIES
When talking about food, processed and nutritious do not usually belong in the same sentence. With both parents working outside of the home, it can be challenging to make sure your children are eating the best quality foods possible. Frozen pizza products, boxed macaroni and cheese dinners, canned pasta, soups and stews and fast food dinners might be convenient, but are not the best nutritionally. They are filled with preservatives, additives, food colorings and a host of other chemicals that can have adverse physiological and emotional affects.
Certain chemicals required for food processing can deplete nutrient stores in the body, and some chemicals have the potential to cause symptoms that are mistaken for behavioral issues. For example, artificial colorings, flavorings and sweeteners can cause hyperactivity, learning disabilities, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and asthma in some children.
If your child is acting out, not sleeping properly, and not getting along well at school, you may want to have their nutritional status assessed by a qualified nutritionist to see if deficiencies or food sensitivities are a contributing factor. For example, excessive fidgeting, restlessness and coordination problems might be the result of a magnesium or zinc deficiency. A lack of healthy fats in the diet can have a negative effect on brain function and make the child appear as though they are restless and not paying attention.
PICKY EATERS? KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Kids need plenty of water, fresh fruits, vegetables and a quality source of protein every day. With a multitude of choices available in our supermarkets, you should be able to find at least five different vegetables your child will enjoy. Experiment with a wide variety of vegetables, and remember that children mimic what they see! Make sure YOUR plate has plenty of vegetables on it as well!
EASY VEGETABLE DISHES
Zucchini noodles with tomato and bacon – fry bacon until crisp then remove from pan. Drain off most of the bacon drippings reserving a small portion for flavor, then add a pad of butter, spiralled zucchini and tomato chunks, stir to combine and heat until zucchini is slightly wilted.
Mashed rutabaga with carrots and honey – peel and cube rutabaga and carrots and boil them together in water until soft enough to mash. Mash with plenty of butter and a spoonful of unpasteurized honey.
Salsa! Yes – salsa counts as a veggie dish! Make your own salsa so you can control the heat and avoid preservatives! Try different kinds of tortilla chips to offer variety. There are also a wide range of whole grain chips and crackers that taste great with salsa!
SOUP! Winter is a great time to serve soups filled with plenty of vegetables! Soup is easy to make, and making your own means you are aware of every ingredient you are feeding your child. Use a crock pot for convenience and make extra to freeze for future use.
CROCK POT CAULIFLOWER & BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP
2 (16 ounce) bags organic frozen cauliflower & broccoli
1 medium onion finely chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
4 cups organic chicken stock
2 cups organic cream
1⁄2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Salt & pepper to taste
Put cauliflower, onion, celery and chicken stock in crockpot.
Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
Puree in blender.
Return to crockpot and blend in cream, Worcestershire and cheese.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Stir to mix.
ONE POT HAMBURGER SOUP
1lb lean ground beef
1 onion diced
6 organic red potatoes cubed
5 organic carrots sliced
1 cup organic frozen or canned corn
2 cups frozen green beans or peas
3 stalks celery, roughly sliced
1 L organic beef broth
1 large can of organic diced tomatoes
1 cup water (if needed)
Salt & pepper to taste
Brown ground beef in stock pot until no pink remains, add remaining ingredients and heat until potatoes are tender.
Avoid negative statements when trying to get your child to eat. It can take several attempts at eating a particular food before a child decides if they like that food or not. If at first you don’t succeed, try again!
Allow your child to choose which vegetables they want to eat even if it’s only carrots every single day! Have other sliced vegetables like bell pepper slices, cucumber spears and radishes available in case they change their mind. Lead by example by making sure you are eating a variety of fresh vegetables at each meal.
Make eating vegetables fun instead of a chore! Use vegetables such as bell peppers to hold carrot and celery sticks and cucumber slices as a wheels for a pretend veggie cart or train.
Introduce them to the fruit and vegetable smoothie! Smoothies are easy to make – all you need is a blender, fruit, vegetables and water, and away you go! Using a banana, apple, pear or a cup of fresh berries help the smoothie taste sweet, and bananas give the smoothie a milky consistency. Throw in a handful of spinach and/or carrots to sneak in a serving of vegetables.
EXERCISE CAN BE FUN!
Exercise doesn’t have to be an expensive sport, or even an organized activity. Playing outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine is free! Calgary has plenty of parks in every neighborhood designed specifically for children to play in. Spend quality time together and go for a walk. Play a game of I spy as you walk to encourage awareness of all the things in your neighborhood like trees, flowers, birds, and even the squirrels.
Allowing your child to express themselves in their own way and discover their own person is the most important thing you can do to nurture their Spirit. A person’s Spirit is the essence of who they are - their ‘authentic’ self.
Make sure there are activities to do that utilize and open up your child’s own imagination as opposed to a pre-programmed game or activity developed by someone else. Drawing, coloring, making up their own story and acting it out, and even playing outside with friends provides an opportunity for your child’s Spirit to shine!
Finally, don’t forget to hug your children often! Feeling loved and accepted unconditionally is crucial to everyone’s sense of well-being!
© 2017 Penny Hodgson All Rights Reserved
The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your own physician or healthcare provider to determine what is right for you. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. The information contained in this online site is intended to provide broad consumer understanding and knowledge. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your physician or other health care provider. I do not recommend the self-management of health problems.
While I attempt to be as accurate as possible, the information presented here should not be relied upon as being comprehensive or error-free.