Avoid TV HEADS! by Two Peds in a Pod

We love our friends at Two Peds in a Pod! They always offer such valuable content to parents and kids fitness professionals! Below is a great article they wrote on how to limit screen time in your home! ENJOY!

We know that winter break often finds kids spending more time in front of screens: watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the internet. Today we repost our suggestions to help limit screen time in your home.
Drs. Kardos and Lai

“Mom, can we do screen?”

My kids ask me this question when they are bored. Never mind the basement full of toys and games, the outdoor sports equipment, or the numerous books on our shelves. They’d watch any screen whether television, hand-held video game, or computer for hours if I let them. But I notice that on days I give in, my children bicker more and engage in less creative play than on days that I don’t allow some screen time.

Babies who watch television develop language slower than their screen-free counterparts (despite what the makers of “educational videos” claim) and children who log in more screen time are prone to obesity, insomnia, and behavior difficulties. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of television watching a day for kids over the age of two years, and NO television for those younger than two.

Over the years, parents have given me tips on how they limit screen time in their homes. Here are some ideas for cutting back:

  • Have children who play a musical instrument earn screen time by practicing music. Have children who play a sport earn screen time by practicing their sport.
  • Turn off the screen during the week. Limit screen to weekends or one day per week.
  • Set a predetermined time limit on screen time, such as 30 minutes or one hour per day. If your child chooses, she can skip a day to accumulate and “save” for a longer movie or longer video game.
  • Take the TV, personal computer, and video games out of your children’s bedrooms. Be a good role model by taking them out of your own bedroom as well.
  • Turn off the TV during meals.
  • Turn off the TV as background noise. Turn on music instead.
  • Have books available to read in relaxing places in the house (near couches, beds, etc.). When kids flop on the couch they will pick up a book to relax instead of reaching for the remote control.
  • Give kids a weekly “TV/screen allowance” with parameters such as no screen before homework is done, no screen right before bed, etc. Let the kids decide how to “spend” their allowance.

Not that I am averse to “family movie night,” and I understand the value of plunking an ill child in front of a video in order to take his mind off his ailment. In fact, Dr. Lai lives in a house with three iPod Touches, two iPhones, a Nintendo DS and three computers. But I do find it frightening to watch my otherwise very animated children lose all facial expression as they tune in to a television show.

For more information about how screen time affects children, see the American Academy of Pediatrics web site (www.aap.org) and put in “television” in the search box.

Learn more from our friends at Two Peds in a Pod at www.twopedsinapod.com

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD
© 2010 Two Peds in a Pod®

Feeding Picky Eaters

We just love the articles and insights from Two Peds In a Pod. So much that we had to share this one because it hits home with all parents at some point in time.

You just don’t appreciate a picky eater until you have one. ”–Overheard at Dr. Lai’s dinner table.

Picky eaters come in two major varieties. One kind is the child who eats the same foods every day and will not vary her diet; for example, cereal, milk, and a banana for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly with milk or juice for lunch, and chicken, rice, and peas for dinner. This diet is nutritionally complete (has fruit, vegetable, protein, dairy, carbohydrate) but is quite “boring” to the parent.

 

The other kind of picky eater is the child who either leaves out entire food groups, most commonly vegetables or meat, or leaves out meals, such as always eats breakfast but never eats dinner.

 

My own children range from the One Who Tries Anything to the One Who Refuses Everything (these are my twins!). My oldest child lived on cheerios and peanut butter and jelly for about two years and now eats crab legs and bulgur wheat and other various foods. My point: I know where you’re coming from, I feel your frustration, and I will give you advice that works as well as optimism and a new way of thinking about feeding your children.

 

Fortunately, from a medical point of view, toddler/child nutrition needs to be complete as you look over several days, not just one meal. For example, if every 3 days your child has eaten some fruit, some vegetables, some protein, some dairy, and some complex carbohydrates, then nutritional needs are met and your child will thrive! See our post about a very simple way to look at complete nutrition.

 

Twelve ways to outwit, outplay, and outlast picky eaters


 

1) Never let them know you care about what they eat. If you struggle with your child about eating, she will not eat and you will continue to feel bad about her not eating. Talk about the day, not about the food on the table. You want your child to eat for the simple reason that she feels hungry, not to please you or anyone else, and not because she feels glad or mad or sad or because of what you the parent will feel if she eats or doesn’t eat. Along these lines, NEVER cook a “special meal” for your toddler. I can guarantee that when she knows how desperately you want her to eat your cooking, she will refuse it.

2) Let them help cook. Even young children can wash vegetables and fruit, arrange food on platters, and mix, pour, and sprinkle ingredients. Older kids can read recipes out loud for you and measure ingredients. Kids are more apt to taste what they help create.

3) Let them dip their food into salad dressing, apple sauce, ketchup etc., which can make their food more appealing or interesting to eat.

4) Let them pick their own food. Whether you grow your own foods, visit a farm or just let your kids help you in the supermarket, kids often get a kick out of tasting what they pick.

5) Hide more nutritious food in the foods they already like (without them knowing). For example, carefully mix vegetables into meatballs or meatloaf or into macaroni and cheese. Let me know if you want my recipe for zucchini chocolate chip muffins or Magic Soup.

6) Offer them foods that you don’t like—THEY might like it. Here’s an example: a few years ago, my children were decorating Easter eggs with Dr. Lai’s children. My kids asked if they could eat their decorated hard boiled eggs. Now, hard boiled eggs are one of the few foods that I do NOT like. I don’t like their smell, their texture, and I really don’t like the way they taste. Yet, all three of my kids, including my pickiest, loved those hard boiled eggs dipped in a little bit of salt. Go figure. Now I have an inexpensive, easy, healthy protein source to offer even though I can’t stand the way my kitchen smells when I cook them… but hey, if my kids actually will EAT them…

7) Continue to offer foods even if they are refused. Don’t force feed; just have them on the table. It could take 20 -30 exposures before your kids might try them so don’t despair. It took eight years of exposure to brocoli until two of my three kids decided they loved it. 

8) Hunger is the best sauce. Do not offer junk food as snacks. Pretzels, crackers, cookies, candy, and chips have NO nutritional value yet fill up small bellies quickly. Do not waste precious stomach space with junk because your insightful child will HOLD OUT for the junk and refuse good nutrition if they know they can fill up on snacks later. Along these lines, never bribe food for food. Chances are, if you bribe eating vegetables with dessert, all the focus will be on the dessert and a tantrum will follow. You and your child will have belly aches from stress, not full bellies.

9) It is okay to repeat similar meals day after day as long as they are nutritious. We might like variety as grownups but most toddlers and young kids prefer sameness and predictability.

10) Turn off the TV. Trust me and trust numerous scientific behavioral studies on this, while it sometimes works in the short term, it never works in the long term. In addition, watching TV during meals is antisocial and promotes obesity.

11) Do not become a “short order” chef. If you do, your child will take advantage of you and likely will not end up eating anyway. When your child says, I don’t want this dinner/lunch/breakfast, I want something else,” you say “The meal is on the table.” 
One variation of this that works in some families is to have one back-up meal that is the same every day and for every meal and must be completely non-cook and nutritious, for example, a very low sugar cereal and milk, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or yogurt with nuts or fruit mixed in it, etc, that you agree to serve if your child does not want to eat what the rest of the family is eating.

12) You can give your child a pediatric multivitamin. This tactic is not “giving up,” nor is it cheating, and it can give the Parent as Provider of Nutrients peace of mind. You can either give a multivitamin every day or just on the days that you are convinced that your child has eaten nothing.

If all else fails, your consolation is that your child will likely become a parent of a picky eater too, and she will ask you how to cope. You’ll be able to tell her what worked for you when she was a picky eater.

Julie Kardos, MD with Naline Lai, MD
©2013 Two Peds in a Pod®
Originally posted on July 24, 2009, with modifications

Parents! Encourage Your Kids to be Active!

1. Ask your kid what they did during their workout- Kids that go to practice or exercise individually or with a group, accomplish a lot during their workouts. Asking them what they learned during their workout will challenge them to remember the things they did, get them excited again about the workout, and increase parent/child interaction which will aid in your kid’s willingness to communicate with you.

 2.  Encourage your kid to try a new sport- Parents ask me all the time the best way for their young child to improve on their athletic abilities. I always suggest having their kid play multiple sports if they are not doing so. Being exposed to different sports will allow the child to experience multiple movement patterns. This in turn can aid in improving athletic development especially for pre-adolescents.

3. Preach water!!!!!!!!!!!!!- Water is the foundation of our body thus should be the primary source of our liquid intake. Encourage your child to drink water by having them bring a water bottle to every workout. Additionally, have them drink a glass when they wake up and a glass before they go to bed. This will establish the good habit of drinking water and having it a part of their daily routine.

4. Encouragement- Kids love positive reinforcement especially from their parents. Praise them when they workout or eat a balanced meal. Tell them you are proud of the good choices they are making and continue to share with them the benefits of these choices. The more good they here from you the more likely they will have a desire to continue a healthy lifestyle.

Article By: Jeff King

Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, NSCA

Jeff King has worked with hundred of young kids from ages 8-13. In addition to working with kids, Jeff has designed numerous programs for young athletes that are structure to improve all aspects of health and fitness among kids. Jeff’s innovative and creative thought process has allowed him to work with kids of all levels and backgrounds.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”