ThoughtFullBoard Blog

Meditation For Children by Alanna McGinn

If you’ve recently discovered meditation as a great way to relax before bed, you’re not alone. It is one of the most commonly suggested methods for helping people fall asleep and quieting their minds. You may be wondering if you can practice meditation with your kids to help them fall asleep faster as well. The good news is that meditation for children can, and should be, incorporated into your child’s bedtime routine to help #BringBackBedtime. Meditation can help children in the same ways it helps adults and it’s a valuable life skill that they can draw upon at school or at home.

Meditation for Children:

Children as young as three can begin to learn meditation. You will, of course, have to adjust your expectations to the child’s age and temperament. A three year old isn’t likely to be able to stay still and pay attention to a 30 minute guided meditation recording, but they can do some deep breathing exercises.

Here are a few tips and ideas to get you started with meditation for children:

  • Just before bedtime is a great time to practice meditation. After they’ve changed into their PJs, brushed their teeth, and had their stories, add some meditation time to the routine.
  • Use meditation as a time to connect with your child. Start by talking about the day and encouraging them to discuss anything that worries them. It’s important to get these worries out before you meditate so that your child can focus on the task.
  • Start by doing some fun deep breathing exercises – inhale deeply and then exhale making an animal noise. Some good ones to start with are snake (hissss), bee (bzzzzzzzzz) or cat (purrrrrrrr). Let your child pick which animals they want to do each night.
  • Have them put their hands on their tummy and feel them rise as they inhale and lower as they exhale.
  • Put on some calming music, and have the child do deep breathing exercises until the end of a song.
  • If you want to try guided meditation with your child, look for ones aimed at children as they use imagery that is more accessible to children and aren’t as long as adult meditations.
  • A fun way to introduce the basics of Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) to children is to do a body scan. You can make it silly by asking them to check to see if their toes are still there, and if they are then wiggle them. By moving up through each of the muscle groups, you can easily transition to traditional PMR as the child gets older.
  • Look for books about meditation such as Sitting Still Like a Frog; A Handful of Quiet; and Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda which teach the basics of meditation and mindfulness to young children.
  • Finally, don’t worry if your young child doesn’t seem to be relaxing right away, it may take time for the routine to have an effect. A few minutes of quiet time before bed will help every child.

The Game-Changing Question Parents Of Picky Eaters Need To Ask by Sarah Remmer

I will not eat

Sitting down to dinner can seem like a daunting task if you have a fussy eater. As a Mom of little ones, even the task of making a healthy balanced meal can seem challenging enough, but when your child refuses to eat it, you might wonder “why do I even bother?!” I’ve been there, and I understand how frustrating it can be. 

A few months ago, while sitting at the dinner table with my two young kids, waiting for my husband to come home from work, I became increasingly frustrated with my son. He was slouched over his plate, head resting beside it on the table and playing with his food–something that seemed to be happening quite often at dinnertime. Lately, he didn’t seem interested in the dinner meal and was either restless, playing with his food and asking to be “done”. I remembered a blog post that my friend Andrea Nair (who is also a well-respected parenting expert and Psychotherapist) wrote where she gave the tip to ask kids questions when trying to get them to do something (such as “what do you need to do to feel ready to get your shoes on to go to school” as an example), instead of telling them what to do. So instead of asking my son to “eat around the circle” or “have a bite to be polite” (which are both strategies that I use and would recommend ), I decided to get him talking by asking him: 

“What can we do to make this meal yummier for you?”

When I started asking my preschooler this question, it literally transformed our mealtimes for the better. And the answers were very interesting! One night, he asked for ketchup to dip his steamed broccoli into (after which, he gobbled it up), and another night when he said that he didn’t like his chili, I asked him if grated cheese would help, which ended up being a game-changer. Your child might need some ideas from you such as “Do you need dip for your veggies?” or “Would you like me to separate your meat from your rice?”, but nine times out of ten, you and your child might be able to come up with a fun way to make his meal more palatable.

For more mealtime game-changers, check out my blog post over on the Yummy Mummy Club: 6 Transformative Questions To Ask Your Picky Eater At Mealtimes . And here is Why You Should Not Use Food As A Parenting Tool. 

Sarah Remmer is Canada's go-to expert in child and family nutrition. As a registered dietitian and mom of three, Sarah pairs her professional expertise with her hands-on "in the trenches" experience over on her blog, where she shares nutrition and feeding advice as well as easy, nutritious recipes and videos. You can also follow Sarah on Facebook for daily tips and recipes. 

                                                                                  

5 reasons why NOT to short order cook for your toddler or child by Sarah Remmer

One thing I am struggling with is the precocious line between “This is dinner. Eat it or don’t’ and the alternative of being a short order cook. ‘Oh, you don’t like this? How about this? How about this? How about this?’ and suddenly I have prepared four separate dinners because I’m terrified that (we’ll call her Emily) will go to bed hungry. I am struggling with when I should lay down the law and quit my short order cook side job. “

This is is a VERY common struggle for parents- you are not alone! Most children will be picky eaters at one time or another- it’s inevitable and normal. I understand that this may not ease the frustration and worry that parents go through though.

Toddlers are desperate for a sense of control. Food is one thing that they can control, to some extent.

As parents, it’s important that we provide a safe, non-pressured, but structured environment for our toddlers and kids at meal and snack times.

Here are five reasons not to short-order cook: 

1. Limited food acceptability: If you are always serving your child foods that you know she readily accepts, she won’t really have a chance to warm up to other foods that she might not accept right now. It takes up to 15-20 tries for a toddler to accept a food. As frustrating as it is, continue to offer foods that you child hasn’t accepted yet. Offer foods in different forms, temperatures and shapes. Offer new foods one at a time and with foods that ARE accepted. This will make it a little bit safer for her. Your child will have a much easier time when she is offered different foods outside of the home this way too.

2. Food preparation becomes too time consuming and complicated: Instead of preparing one meal for your family, you end up preparing 3-4 different meals. Only offer one meal for the family with 3-4 different foods to pick and choose from. If you’re anything like me, you’re a busy Mom and don’t have hours on end to cook.

3. The “line” becomes blurred: If you’re constantly catering to your toddler’s or child’s food preferences and acceptability, she may (no, she WILL) take advantage of this. She may decide after you’ve made a special meal for her that she, in fact, wants something else. Where do you draw the line? How many meals will you prepare before you go crazy?

4. Less nutritious options: Alternate meals tend to be less nutritious. They tend to be quick and easy and lack in the nutrition department. Convenience/frozen foods, ready-made breakfast cereal, toddler crackers/cookies, and other starchy white foods tend to be the go-to’s.

5. It puts added pressure on everyone: Being a short-order cook for your children puts pressure on you to “get it right” and serve what each child wants (and how they want it) and it puts added pressure on your child to eat exactly what they’ve been served (and all of it) after you’ve specially-made a meal for him or her.

As tempting as it is to serve your toddler or child what you know he or she will eat, avoid short order cooking. It’s not good for anyone involved.

Instead:

  • Offer 3 meals at set times and snacks in between. Offer 3-4 different foods from different foods groups at each meal and 2-3 different foods at snacks. Everyone in the family should be offered the same choices. By doing this, you are setting parameters and providing much needed structure, but also giving them control. Your responsibility as a parent is to provide the When’s, What’s and Where’s of eating and it’s up to your toddler or child to decide whether and how much they will eat.
  • Eat with your toddler or child, don’t just feed them. Modelling healthy eating is SO important for many reasons and your child will greatly benefit from family meals.
  • Allow them to pick and choose what they eat out of what you’ve offered them, even if it’s a lot of only one food (ie. bread). Don’t force or pressure your child to eat. This will turn them off of it even more. Instead, gently encourage them to try each food and if they are old enough, teach them to say “no thank you” instead of “EW” or “YUK”. Give them permission to try something and politely spit it out in a napkin if they don’t like it. Keep re-introducing foods in a non-pressured way. Try to be patient, as hard as it may be:)

If you’re offering a variety of foods every day and if your toddler or child is eating foods from each food group (even if it’s not as varied and abundant as you’d like), she is likely getting what she needs. The best way to know if she is getting enough is by her growth. If she’s steadily growing along her growth curve (you can ask her family doctor about this), all is good. If you’re worried about her growth, talk to your family doctor or Dietitian.

Sarah Remmer is Canada's go-to expert in child and family nutrition. As a registered dietitian and mom of three, Sarah pairs her professional expertise with her hands-on "in the trenches" experience over on her blog, where she shares nutrition and feeding advice as well as easy, nutritious recipes and videos. You can also follow Sarah on Facebook for daily tips and recipes.