Archive for the ‘Healthy Lifestyle’ Category

Happy Earth Day Microsoft!

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Where do I begin? I just sent out an email to Parental Wisdom members (below) which talks about how we’re stopping our children from enjoying the most wonderful lessons on earth in a rush to excel. I came across a piece by the senior product manager at Microsoft that I have to share:

You helped her learn to walk. He’s totally potty trained at last. Just when it seems you’ve conquered the most angst-ridden issues faced by parents of toddlers, here comes another source of concern: In a world increasingly dominated by technology, familiarizing your child with a computer and online tools is more important than ever.

Parents can’t afford to wait until their children start school to introduce them to technology, says Craig Cincotta, senior product manager at Microsoft Corp.

“Schools are incorporating computers into their curricula at very early grade levels. It’s not unusual to find a computer loaded with learning software in preschool and daycare settings,” he says. “Children who have experience with computers at home will have an edge over those who first encounter technology in the classroom.”

Boy, is this person ever wrong. Children are becoming frustrated and angry, even at young ages because we are not allowing them to be children – children are meant to play, especially outdoors.

Have you ever tried to toilet train a child too early? It doesn’t work. When children are ready, toilet training is easy. The same is true of education, computers and sports. Let children play freely, and when the time comes for studies and computers and organized sports, they will come ready to learn.

Here is the email sent yesterday to Parental Wisdom members.

We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.
-Ancient Proverb

Global climate change, pollution and how large a carbon footprint you leave behind may seem like many issues parents face – overwhelming.

The answer is actually quite simple and lies in the ancient proverb that states we borrow the earth from our children.

Unfortunately, we take our children from the very thing they gravitate to, the wonders of nature. We put them in schools too early, in front of computers too early, in organized sports programs too early, all because being inside and educated means they will be safe, smart and ready for a cutthroat world.

According to a recent article in the Wall St. Journal, the birthplace of kindergarten is returning to its roots – quite literally. Children ages 3 to 6 walk into a forest outside Frankfurt Germany to sing songs, build fires and roll in the mud. To relax, they kick back in a giant ‘sofa’ made of tree stumps and twigs.

Fredrick Frobel, the German educator who opened the world’s first kindergarten actually called it a “children’s garden.” He suggested that children of this age learn far more by playing in nature than they do immersed in letters and numbers.

Let’s move from ‘No Child Left Behind’ to ‘No Child Left Inside’ and stop our 5-year-olds from what some educators call ‘early academic fatigue.’ If you can’t change the education system, at least you could give your children the gift of spending time with nature. Take a walk with your child and see what he sees, it’s amazing what a young child can teach you.

Perhaps if we made this a habit, there wouldn’t be a need to set aside April 22nd to remember the Earth; everyday would be Earth Day.

Mud pies anyone?

Teen Drivers

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

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There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Benjamin Disraeli – British politician (1804 – 1881)

I’ve noticed considerable attention and concern over teen drivers recently. While visiting various government websites, they recite accident statistics, which causes us to gloss over and not pay attention to the real message.

Instead of citing statistics, try citing rules. Interestingly, the laws that make the most sense were put in place as a result of the accident statistics related to teen drivers. In the words of the great Mel Brooks, “It’s good to be king.” Parents get to be king. Parents get to cite rules over and above the government rules. And no one has to gloss over with while reading statistics.

Feel free to visit Parental Wisdom – Free Reports and print out Teen Safe Driving Contract. There are two versions; one is a PDF, and the other is an editable version so you can personalize it.

Be sure to talk to your children about this important topic. Clearly this is an area where you don’t want to become a statistic.

You are beautiful!

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

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Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.
– Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC)

They called her Sunshine, the nickname given to Stephanie Kuleba, 18 because of her brightness, blond hair and personality. The South Florida teen died Saturday, about 24 hours after corrective breast plastic surgery. Gone are the hopes and dreams of a high school senior. All because of a reaction to anesthesia, proof that there’s no such thing as a simple procedure.

With all the things we need to tell our girls as they grow up, we need to let them know they are really beautiful.

Counter the myths of the beauty industry as few people can be a size 2. The beauty standards are too high for even the supermodels to follow, since most are photo-shopped.

Where does real beauty come from? Knowing who you are, and being happy with that.

Thank you Dove for reminding us of that. Please watch this [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaH4y6ZjSfE ].
Love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment.

Limiting Marketing to Kids

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

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A few years ago I asked my nephew what he wanted for Christmas. He didn’t know. I asked him if he watched Saturday morning cartoons, because I remember when my kids were little that’s where they saw the toys they might like.

He told me there were no toy commercials, only food commercials. He was right. And the commercials bombarding our children promoted foods and beverages that were high in fat, sugar and salt.

Finally, consumer organizations world-wide will pitch a proposal to limit the amount of food marketing to kids. The group is calling for a ban of radio or television advertising of these foods between the hours of 6am and 9pm, and a ban on marketing the same kinds of unhealthy foods on social networks and other new media. Additionally, they are calling on a ban of promotion through toys and gifts and the use of celebrities and cartoon characters.

If you would like to hear about the new reality parents face, and actionable ideas, visit Parental Wisdom® and listen to our Park Bench® broadcast entitled Feeding Our Children to Death.

There’s a reason for everything

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

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An outbreak of the flu is hardly good news, but there is a reason for everything. We find that we can clear our schedules, slow down and cuddle up. Why do we need to wait for the flu or a snowstorm to do something that makes so much sense?

Our generation of parents is so involved in our children’s lives that we have taken on the role of ‘Julie the Cruise Director.’

Let’s take a look at where that has gotten us:

• When they are very little, we register for mommy & me gym classes. Reality check, you can do that at home for no cost at all. Mommy, are you the one that needs the play date here?
• When they are toddlers, we’re registering them for soccer and pee-wee tee ball camps. Reality check again, this costs money and more importantly children actually get less time to play than if the parents played with their kids at the park or in the backyard. Also, the kids aren’t learning how to form their own teams.
• In grade school, we add music and tutoring to the sports schedule which leaves no time for play or family. The mini-van is well stocked with food and beverages as we have no time for dinner. And, by the way, no time for conversation since the mini-van has DVD’s playing in the head rests.
• We check our calendars to find free time for play dates that we’ve selected.
• High school comes around and by this time the kids are burned out by the politics of sports so they’ve stopped playing. Since they never started a game on their own, they don’t know how. Technology has taken the place of making real friends, again something they’ve never had to do.

Back to today’s lesson. Parents – do less and you’ll do more.

Connecting the dots – obesity, behavior and the media

Friday, January 25th, 2008

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As I read my daily papers, The Wall St. Journal and USA Today, I cut articles that might be of interest to Parental Wisdom members. There is a pattern emerging where experts are trying to figure out what is going wrong with kids today. Three recent articles shed some light are where they are headed:

• In the January 14th edition of USA Today an article entitled ‘A lifetime of danger in childhood obesity’ paints a bleak picture of the medical issues that could result in overweight children and then explain how parents can create a healthful environment.

• USA Today on January 15th tells us of a ‘new direction’ on the part of PBS to create an online subscription based education website aimed at 3 to 6 year-olds.

• The January 17th edition of the Wall St. Journal asks ‘what’s gotten into kids these days’ and wonders why three-year-olds are being expelled at such an alarming rate.

Finally during a Parental Wisdom tele-seminar held this week on peaceful parenting, a caller asked what she could do to calm down her five-year-old at school because the teacher said he wasn’t sitting still. The teacher suggested the mom consider signing the boy up for a soccer team. The mom is already stressed about just returning to work and trying to keep it all together. Just what she needs, another to-do added to her already over-scheduled to-do list.

The solution to these seemingly unrelated problems is easy. Lighten up and let kids play. I mean real play, not online play, or signing them up with teams at such a young age they spend more time in the field picking their noses rather than listening to yet another round of instructions from adults running their lives. Involve them in your lives and the work that you need to do. Relationship building isn’t forced.
• Talk to your children when food shopping about healthy choices
• Have dinner together every night (or as often as possible) and talk about your day
• Give children chores such as setting or clearing the table
• Shoot baskets – no team shirts needed

Behavior problems will disappear, healthy living and family fun will be a way of life.

Is it this easy? Try it and prove me wrong. I would love to hear back from you.

Not lovin’ it

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

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A recent Stanford University study finds that a preschooler’s perception of what tastes better can be heavily influenced by packaging.

The study had 3-5-year-olds from low-income families sample foods in taste tests of food wrapped in McDonalds and in umarked wrappers. Study author Dr. Tom Robinson is quoted as saying kids’ perception of taste was “physically altered by the branding.” Even carrots, milk and apple juice tasted better to the kids if they thought the food was from McDonald’s.

We already know that very young children who are not yet able to read can easily distinguish between the Burger King and McDonalds logos.

Well, we’re closer to our answer on healthy eating – – just package up the healthy foods in those familiar wrappers. Or, perhaps we could stop marketing to young children as if they hold the household pursestrings.

Little kids can’t yet drive, yet fast food places are a favorite dinner destination spot. Parents instead might consider a well thought out trip to the supermarket and making your child part of the planning and preparation.

You’ll be a lot more fun than Ronald.

Healthy Eating

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

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The Journal of the American Dietetics Association talks about the 72% healthy eating solution.

They claim that meal-servers control 72% of what families eat. Think of yourself as the nutritional gatekeeper – the one who buys, prepares, and serves the meals controls 72% of what their family eats inside and outside of the home, and the supplements used for this always help, even more for people in fitness routine, since there are sites online where they sell them, check out swolhq to find the best options for this.

The family chef shouldn’t worry so much about pleasing picky palates because unlike what most people think, hungry family members are almost always going to eat what is prepared for them.

What we feed our children and the behavior we model is too important to leave to chance.

Plan your weekly menu even inviting every family member to request their favorite meal. This stops us from getting the blame about preparing the same old stuff all the time.

Leave healthy cookbooks and magazines like Cooking Light around the kitchen to encourage new food choices. Make your children part of the food shopping experience which is a great way to discuss healthy food choices, reading packages and weighing items (great math activity).

Watch cooking shows on the Food Network together.

I found a great way to manage family favorites. You will need MS Excel and your family favorites. To see how to create your own simple spreadsheet, visit Parental Wisdom Free Reports and print out a copy of Family Favorite Recipes. You will find a example and instructions how to create your own.

Turn the battle about food into something positive.

Marketing Apples to Stop Childhood Obesity

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

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My six-year old nephew Gerard didn’t know what he wanted for Christmas, so I asked if he liked any of the toys he saw on TV commercials. “There are no toy commercials, Aunt Tina,” he said, “Only food commercials.” That conversation happened about four years ago.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has just released a study entitled Food for Thought: Television Food Advertising to Children in the United States which proves what my nephew and all kids knew for a long time. They are targets for food commercials. Up to now, the governments’ position was that they can’t regulate parenting which they felt was the real problem contributing to the increase in childhood obesity. After all, there was no quantifiable data. They now have such information.

New Study Finds That Food is the Top Product Seen Advertised by Children – Among All Children, Tweens See the Most Food Ads at More than 20 a Day
34% of All Food Ads Targeting Children or Teens are for Candy and Snacks
Half of All Ads Shown During Children’s Shows are for Food

Types of Food Advertised. Of all food ads in the study that target children or teens, 34% are for candy and snacks, 28% are for cereal, and 10% are for fast foods. Four percent are for dairy products and 1% for fruit juices. Of the 8,854 ads reviewed in the study, there were none for fruits or vegetables targeting children or teens.

Follow the Money

Decades ago, an anonymous source known only as Deep Throat told Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to “Follow the money” which led them to expose the Watergate cover-up. That advice still works.

Follow the money to cure the childhood obesity problem. Let’s find a way for marketers to make money from healthy foods and our problem is solved.

To see a slide presentation.

The Best Parenting Advice Ever

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

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When my son was born, I remember asking my YaYa, which is Greek for Grandma, for one piece of advice on raising children. Her reply was quick and to the point, “You talk to them,” is all she said.

What simple and perfect words of wisdom.

God gave you two ears and one mouth. That is a signal to listen twice as much as you talk.
-Anonymous

Today, our world is filled with noise that clouds our judgment. As parents, we need to do our very best to incorporate quiet into our homes and our thoughts.

Look at our lives and how out of control they have become with noise. Walk down the street and there are people text messaging, talking on cell phones, listening to iPods, and kids in their SUVs with their parents for a short drive to the supermarket with headrest DVDs playing.

Despite the fact that 500 television channels present little quality content, Satellite TV can now be included on minivans. The ‘pitch’ is that parents could watch Howard Stern in the front, while kids can watch Spongebob in the back.

Television is called a medium because it is neither rare nor well-done.
-Ernie Kovacs

Is this what we consider quality time? All this noise keeps you from building some of the most important relationships in your life – the relationships with your children. It becomes especially important as messages are sent directly to your children.

I love the technology, but like anything else, moderation is the key.