Avocados are the only fruit with monounsaturated “good” fats that may lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, which can harm the heart. The avocado is also a super source of soluble fiber, which helps prevent constipation. And it’s full of vitamin E, which scientists think may help to prevent cancer.
“Try mashing avocado with a little lime or lemon juice and yogurt and using it on quesadillas or tacos — or as a dip for raw vegetables,” suggests Jessica Seinfeld.
Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (substances that sometimes slow the body’s release of cell-damaging chemicals), blueberries may help lower cholesterol, sharpen memory, and fight certain cancers. Whether fresh or frozen, these little fruits offer big health benefits.
“I make a purple puree filled with blueberries and spinach that I add to tacos, burgers, pancakes, cookies, and brownies,” says Missy Chase Lapine, author of The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Food in Kids’ Favorite Meals. “Wild, organic, frozen blueberries are one of the most versatile nutrient-rich foods you can disguise in dishes.”
These mild-tasting whole grains prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes, keep you feeling full longer, and help your body get rid of bad cholesterol.
“Serve oatmeal for breakfast,” says Chase Lapine. “The old-fashioned rolled oats, not the quick-cooking kind, because they offer more fiber and longer-lasting energy. Cook them in milk, rather than water, and top with blueberries for a well-balanced start to the day.”
This cold-water fish contains healthful fats known as omega-3s that can lower the risk of heart disease. These nutrients may also help improve mood and prevent memory loss.
“Make your own fish fingers,” recommends chef and author Jennifer Iserloh. “Choose wild salmon to reduce your child’s exposure to toxic substances such as PCBs and mercury. Adults enjoy these lightly crumbed strips too.”
Simply take 1 pound of wild salmon filets and cut fish into strips. Dip in slightly beaten egg whites, then into a bread crumb and cornmeal mixture seasoned with a little grated Parmesan, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic and onion powder. Cook over medium heat in a lightly oiled pan.
Spinach is an excellent source of iron, calcium, folic acid, and vitamins A and C – all great for growing bones and brains.
“This versatile vegetable has a mild flavor and cooks in a flash,” notes Iserloh. “Stir it into hot soups, toss it into your tomato sauce, and tuck it into quesadillas.”
Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins B, C, and E as well as calcium, potassium, and iron, They’re also rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber, which keeps digestion moving along.
“Sweet potatoes are good at preventing a sugar crash, thanks to those complex carbs,” says Chase Lapine. “They also add a subtle sweetness to sneaky recipes and work hard to cut the acidity of tomato that some kids dislike in pasta sauces.”
Rich in calcium and a good source of protein, yogurt helps build strong bones and teeth. It may also aid digestion and fight bad bacteria in the gut.
“Buy plain low-fat yogurt and add your own fresh or frozen fruit to it,” recommends Iserloh. “That way, you’ll avoid the sugar that’s in flavored yogurts. It’s so creamy and comforting that most kids go for it.”
By: Jennifer Deibel
When my oldest was about a year old we had some friends over for a meal. As we bowed to pray, she started going nuts, kicking, screaming, thrashing. I managed to get her calm enough to ask her what was wrong.
“No nite-nite!! NO nite-nite!!!”
I looked at my husband, “I think we might need to start praying more with her…like, more than just at bedtime.”
Thus began my odyssey in teaching my children to pray. To really pray.
I wouldn’t say I’ve “arrived” by any stretch. I have a lot to learn myself, and then figure out how to pass on to my children. But, here are a few steps we have found helpful in teaching our children to pray.
1. Fight Repetition. I’m not against memorized prayers, and that is not the focus of this post. But, for myself and my children (my type-A, first-born, just-like-mama daughter especially), our lives are dictated by routine. It is tempting for me to let my prayers become rote, or formulaic, out of laziness or superstition. Be sure to model starting and ending your prayers in different ways, just like you initiate conversations with your human relationships differently. (ex., as a child, I thought no prayer had a hope of being heard unless it ended with “In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”)
2. Anything is Fair Game. God loves us. Just as the things that are important to, or concern, our children become important to us, so it is with God. So, if my daughter wants to pray about finding her other sock, I let her. I want them to know they can talk to God about anything and everything. You can’t build a deep, meaningful relationship by only talking to a person on Christmas, Easter, and in a major crises. And hopefully, your conversations during non-structured prayer times will shepherd their little hearts to begin to echo the things that are important to Him.
3. Give Guidelines. While we are teaching our children that they can come to God with anything, we also want to help them have quality times of conversation with Him. So, taking our cue from the Lord’s Prayer, at bedtime we make sure they thank Him for at least one thing, and ask His help with/for at least one thing. They can include other things if they so desire, but we make sure these elements are included.
4. Encourage, Model and Foster Spontaneity. When we find out someone is ill, see/hear an ambulance, or see a really beautiful rainbow, we pray right then (usually eyes open, head not bowed…Gasp). Many’s the time our daughter has prayed for a friend who wasn’t at school in the car on the way home. Let them see you do this, too.
5. Watch For Answers/Listen. Take time to be still and listen for His voice. Sometimes its a good exercise for littles to just sit quietly and ponder. Then, be sure to recognize when God answers prayer! Talk about it together, thank Him, and celebrate! You can keep a simple prayer journal with the date, request, and date/way in which it was answered. I’m not that organized (understatement of the century!), so we tend to keep it verbal. Be creative and keep it in line with who you are as individuals and a family.
I hope you have found these ideas helpful, and that as you pray for and with your children He guides you all into a deeper friendship with Himself.
What ways have you found helpful in teaching your children to pray?
Preschoolers have boundless amounts of energy and are always looking for the next thing to get into. Coming up with fun and education activities for them can sometimes be a challenge, but the internet is a GREAT resource to help you come up with ideas. Here are a couple activities from the website Net Mums:
See how many objects you can find lying around the house and use them to make different textures across paper (try pine cones, combs, coins or leaves). Lay some paper over the top of the item and use crayons or chalk to rub across the top of the paper. The result will be a mixture of interesting patterns and offers a creative way to teach children about varying textures and shapes.
What you’ll need:
- Lollipop sticks
- Felt (various colours)
- Glue/needle & thread
Great for role-playing, book marking or as treats in goodie bags, these mini puppets have a multitude of uses and are super-easy to make. The best place to start is to make your animal head. Go for an elephant option (like the one illustrated above) or opt for a tiger, lion or monkey – you can draw sketches first, look for pictures in books or simply let your child use their own creativity to make the face.
Help them cut the shapes out with scissors and stick the felt together with glue. For the eyes, use white felt with black felt tip on top or buy some ready made ‘beady eyes’ from your local craft shop. All that’s left to do is mount it onto the stick and hey-presto, you have a ready-made lollipop puppet!
Big feet, little feet
Encourage your child to think about size. A fun way of doing this is to do hand or foot prints and then see whose print is the biggest. Help your child to cut the prints out and add additional decorations (crayon or pen patterns over the dried paint prints). Get the whole family involved so children can see the difference between, say, Baby Brother’s footprint and Daddy’s footprint. Your child can then line them up in order of size, with each family members name written on them.
Letters in the sand
Make a sand tray using some play sand and place it on the table in front of your child. Cut out some letters or use your child’s magnetic letters as a visual reference and let your child practise writing different letters in the sand with their fingers. A simple activity, good for younger children, which works equally well with paper and finger paints.
Preschool — it’s not just about the sandbox anymore. As elementary school becomes more rigorous, so does preschool. Children are expected to learn certain skills in preschool so that they are prepared for elementary school. Considering the limited time in a preschool setting and the pressure for success later on, where does play fit in?
Play is work for preschoolers
Children are playful by nature. Their earliest experiences exploring with their senses lead them to play, first by themselves and eventually with others. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has included play as a criterion in its accreditation process for programs for young children. “They call it their work,” says Peter Pizzolongo, associate director for professional development at NAEYC. “When they’re learning and playing with joy, then it’s a positive experience. They develop a positive approach to learning.”
The teacher’s role as children grow
As children develop, their play becomes more sophisticated. Up until the age of 2, a child plays by himself and has little interaction with others. Soon after, he starts watching other children play but may not join in. This is particularly relevant to kids in multi-age settings where younger children can watch and learn from older preschoolers playing nearby.
Around 2½ to 3 years, a preschooler starts to play sitting next to another child, often someone with similar interests. This naturally shifts, through the use of language, to the beginnings of cooperative play. An adult can facilitate this process by setting up a space for two or more small bodies and helping children find the words to express their questions or needs.
Between 4 and 5 years, preschoolers discover they share similar interests and seek out kids like them. They discuss, negotiate and strategize to create elaborate play scenes; take turns; and work together toward mutual goals.
The preschool teacher’s role in the development of play is critical. “Parents should look to see that the teacher has organized the environment,” says Pizzolongo, “and is using her curriculum in a way that guides her to plan for how the children are going to be engaged in play. It really is a structured way of learning. It just looks like a different structure than what you would see in fourth grade.”
Types of play
Children’s play can be divided into categories, but the types of play often overlap.
- Dramatic — Fantasy-directed play with dressing up in costumes, assuming roles as characters, using toys to represent characters in stories, creating imaginary settings, and pretending to take on the roles of adults.
- Manipulative — Holding and handling small toys often used to build objects but also found in puzzles, characters, beads, etc.
- Physical — Using the whole body in activities with bikes, balls, jump ropes, hoops, play structures, etc.
- Creative — Using art materials such as paint, clay, markers, pencils, glue, etc. The play takes place in the process of using the materials, not in the end product.
Benefits of play
Through play, children develop skills they’ll use in their school years.
Both gross and fine motor development occur through play. When kids play outdoors, if they feel comfortable and supported, they’ll push themselves to new challenges and build motor skills. Developing fine motor skills, such as handling small objects, is a way for children to practice using their hands and fingers, which in turn builds the strength and coordination critical for writing skills. “When you’re a preschooler or toddler, your attention comes out in a different way,” explains Pizzolongo. “Your attention works best if your body is involved, as many parts of it as possible. So children learning to play where they’re physically engaged with materials and interacting with each other would work best.”
Children build language skills through cooperative play. Their success depends on their ability and patience in explaining themselves. Teachers repeat the words children say to help others understand. They also teach words about the objects the kids are interested in handling. Students may talk to themselves while playing side by side with other children and then begin to repeat what they hear or start talking to each other. This develops into back-and-forth communication about play, becoming increasingly sophisticated by age 4. Children will now set rules, have specific roles, express their interests or objections, and chatter about funny situations that occur in the course of play.
Play builds a strong sense of self-confidence. Trying to do a certain trick on a play structure or build with blocks is hard work for a preschooler. Teachers acknowledge these experiences by articulating what they observe and letting the preschooler absorb these accomplishments again. There are also therapeutic benefits to play that help all children. For example, understanding that a parent is going to work and will come back at pick-up time can be reinforced through a play scenario.
Listening, negotiating, and compromising are challenging for 4- and 5-year-olds. Though children at this age are still egocentric, or unable to think beyond their own needs, working with others helps them develop an awareness of differences in people around them. These experiences in preschool provide a foundation for learning how to solve problems and communicate with peers. Play also helps build positive leadership qualities for children who are naturally inclined to direct but must learn how to control their impulses.
Loss of play later
For many school-age kids, their time outside of school will include solitary time spent plugged into video games and computers, so it is especially critical for preschoolers to have the opportunity to develop naturally in their play.
Julie Nicholson, an early-childhood instructor at the Mills College School of Education in Oakland, Calif., notes, “We know from decades of research that young children’s play is very beneficial for their development, so we have to look at such immensely important topics as the decrease in children’s outdoor play, the loss of extended periods of unstructured time for children to engage in imaginative play, and the toys being marketed to children that are increasingly violent, sexualized, and closed-ended.”
Ask about play when choosing a preschool
When you tour preschools you’re considering, ask about their philosophy about play. Preschoolers need opportunities to play, prepared spaces for them to explore and responsive teachers to support their learning. Such a setting prepares children not only to become students who will work with others cooperatively and approach learning with joy, but also happier people who will not lose their love of play.
Research explains why toddlers have temper tantrums and the reasons behind bad behavior.
By Patty Onderko
With my 3-year-old twins in tow, I navigated several steep flights of subway stairs, managed four train transfers and arrived safely at the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. I took photos of them in front of the giant Apatosaurus skeleton and imparted (probably erroneous, but who cares?) facts about the Jurassic era. I am the best. Mother. Ever!
To top off the special day, I decided to treat them to an educational toy at the gift shop. My son Theo wanted an astronaut, so I brought him to the space display and let him choose between three astronaut-themed items (I’m so smart to give my preschooler a sense of control by offering him a choice!). “No, astronaut!” he began to whine. “This is an astronaut,” I said brightly, pointing to one of the helmeted play figures. “No!” He then slapped all the items out of my hand and began screaming. Ten minutes later, after Theo had stomped on a dozen packages of freeze-dried ice cream, I tucked one boy under each arm and staggered out. I am the worst mother ever, I said to myself, embarrassed, drained and near tears.
Turns out, the scene at the museum was not all my fault, and it doesn’t mean my boy is “bad,” either. Michael Potegal, Ph.D., a pediatric neuropsychologist at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, has spent the latest part of his professional career studying tantrums and how and why young children have such brutally emotional explosions. And what has he learned in that time? That their outbursts are as normal a biological response to anger and frustration as a yawn is to fatigue. So normal, in fact, that you can make a science out of the progression of a tantrum and predict one down to the second. Kids from about 18 months to 4 years are simply hardwired to misbehave, he says. And that means “nurture” (i.e., you) isn’t always to blame.
The Mush Behind the Madness: Your Tot’s Noggin
Let’s take a quick tour of the human brain, stopping at a little blob of gray matter behind the eyebrows called the prefrontal cortex (PFC). This is the part of the brain that regulates emotion and controls social behavior. It’s also the last area of the brain to develop; it has only just begun to mature at age 4. That immaturity—as difficult as it makes parenting a toddler or a preschooler—may serve an important developmental role in the acquisition of language (the most significant social tool humans have), says a new report out of the University of Pennsylvania. The authors posit that the underdeveloped PFC is what allows young children to master a new language much more easily than adults. Simply put, our kids’ more disagreeable behavior may be an evolutionary trade-off for the sake of human communication.
Okay, so they’ve got these mushy brain parts that make them prone to outbursts and irrational displays of emotion, but there’s another factor at play in the toddler/preschooler’s often difficult behavior: stress. “Kids this age think magically, not logically,” explains Gina Mireault, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Johnson State College, in Vermont. “Events that are ordinary to us are confusing and scary to them. They don’t understand that the bathtub drain won’t swallow them or that their uncle can’t really snatch their nose.” And if you’re not sure whether or not a simple bath will end in your demise, needless to say, you’re going to feel pretty confused and prone to anxiety—on a daily basis.
This feeling of heightened arousal causes our bodies to release cortisol, known as the “fight or flight” hormone. Maybe it should be called “tantrum juice:” Cortisol increases blood pressure, speeds up breathing rates and may lead to confused or unclear thinking (sound like anyone you know?). This anxiety is developmentally typical in moderation, but chronic anxiety or stress—Is my stuffed Tigger going to come alive and eat me?—is not; it can turn kids into virtual bundles of kindling primed to ignite at the slightest provocation.
How to Handle a Tasmanian Tot
The next time your child has an episode, Potegal recommends asking yourself “What function does this inappropriate behavior serve?” If your tyke is looking for attention or a “tangible” (toy, food or other treat), the best response is to ignore the behavior and maintain your own emotional composure. My friend Mana Heydarpour of New York City learned this lesson the hard way: When she told her strong-willed 3-year-old, Ella, that she couldn’t watch her favorite TV show, she screamed, “I don’t like you! I’m so disappointed with you!” “It made my blood boil so much that I couldn’t help yelling back at her,” Heydarpour says. As a result, Ella’s fit lasted for half an hour. Potegal calls this the Anger Trap. “If you get just as mad and irrational as your child, it’s like throwing gas on a fire,” he says.
But he warns of another trap, too: the Sadness Trap. “When you comfort a child in the middle of a tantrum, you reinforce the behavior. Instead, say ‘I’m sorry you’re upset. When you calm down, I’ll give you a hug and we can talk about what happened.’” This way, you offer support and sympathy while still showing your tot how to regulate his emotions. “Since that meltdown, I’ve learned to say ‘I’m not talking to you while you’re behaving like this,’” Heydarpour says. “Ella composes herself so much faster when I manage to do that.”
But the above strategy doesn’t apply to an “escape” tantrum: a child going bonkers because he doesn’t want to do whatever it is you want him to (clean up, sit at the table, etc.). In this case, ignoring him gives him what he wants: You’re no longer demanding that he wear his coat, or whatever it is that needs to be done. Putting him in a time-out chair doesn’t work, either, since that’s time he’s not putting on his jacket. “Every second he’s not complying, he’s winning,” says Potegal. Instead, tell your kid that if he doesn’t get dressed in five seconds, you’re going to put your hands on his and do it together. If your tiny rebel makes no move after the five seconds are up, which he won’t at first, take his hands in yours and gently force the coat on. “It’s not meant to be pleasant,” admits Potegal, but it should never include physical harm. If your child begins to slap or bite you, continue putting the coat on and then put him in time-out (or take away a privilege, if that’s your standard discipline tactic). That way, your child sees he still has to wear the coat (so his protests were ineffective) and now has an additional consequence for his unacceptable behavior.
Toddlers are a literal force of nature who confound even the most calm and prepared. But there’s a silver lining to these flop-and-flail-filled years: Just as kids can quickly slip into anger and sadness, so can they slip out of them. The average tantrum lasts about three minutes, according to Potegal’s research. That’s why, shortly after a tantrum, your kid is back to playing as if nothing happened, while you’re still quaking from the event a half hour later. His immature PFC (that mushy part responsible for social cues) allows him to move on without dwelling on past hurts. “Toddlers can transition from sad to happy and from angry to calm incredibly easily,” says Potegal. So enjoy that post-freak-out cuddle, and gird yourself for the next round.
The Life of a Tantrum
A minute-by-minute breakdown of what happens when your tot blows his top.
Uh-oh. Grocery-store meltdown in aisle 3.
Foot stomping by this point means it will be a short one.
Screaming and kicking: His anger has reached its peak.
And just like that, it’s over. He’s now looking for comfort.
Wow. He’s acting like nothing ever happened.
If his fits always last this long, talk to your doc.