Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Choosing Healthy Snacks Using MyPyramid

What is a snack? A snack is any food that is eaten between meals. Now, what is a smart snack? A smart snack includes healthy choices from the food groups in MyPlate. So, if your meals come up short on any food group, choose foods from that food group for your snacks. Try fresh fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats or whole grains products.
Avoid snacks high in fat, sugar and salt. These include candy bars, doughnuts, fries, hamburgers, and regular soda.

Snacking Myths:
MYTH: Snacks cause weight gain. FACT: No! You gain weight when you consume more calories, no matter what you eat, than you burn during the day.

MYTH: Snacks ruin appetites. FACT: No! Eating a snack 1–2 hours before a meal helps adults satisfy hunger and eat a smaller meal. Snacks help children and adolescents get the extra nutrients they need.

MYTH: Snacks cause cavities. FACT: No! You get cavities when you eat sugary and starchy snacks throughout the day. In contrast, snacks that include milk or cheese help prevent tooth decay, while fruits and vegetables keep teeth and gums healthy.

Who Should Snack?
Everyone should snack: children, adolescents, adults, and older adults. Many children do not get enough calories from three meals a day; older adults often do not eat enough calories and need snacks to meet their needs. Adding in snacks between meals helps provide calories and nutrients.
Eating healthy snacks gives you the fuel you need to keep going! Planning is KEY to Successful Snacking!

·         Make sure to keep ready-to-eat portions of crackers, canned fruit, yogurt, and tuna packed in water.
·         Wash fresh produce and keep ready-to-eat portions in bags in the refrigerator. Keep low-fat yogurt or dip to grab and go.
·         Prepare your own granola or trail mix. Combine 1 cup whole-grain oat cereal with ¼ cup of chopped nuts such as walnuts, and ¼ cup dried fruit such as cranberries for a healthy trail mix.
·         Make your snacks interesting, fun and creative. Variety is the key!
·         Keep healthy, tasty, and easy to carry snacks in your backpack or purse nearby.

Source: Choosing Healthy Snacks Using My Pyramid, University of Florida Extension

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Biting in the Toddler Years

Biting is a very common toddler behavior. Understanding why the young child bites is the first step in preventing biting as well as teaching the child alternatives to biting. The most common reasons and solutions for biting are:

The Experimental Biter is exploring their world and may place many items in their mouths (including other’s arms or fingers) to learn more about them. Teach the child that some thing can be bitten, like toys and food, and some things cannot be bitten, like people and animals.

The Teething Biter feels a lot of discomfort and a natural response is to apply pressure to their gums by biting on things. Provide this child with many toys he or she can bite down on.

The Social Biter bites when they are trying to interact with another child. They may not yet have developed the social skills to indicate, “I want to play with you.” Watch young children very closely to assist them in positive interactions with their friends.

The Frustrated Biter lacks the social and emotional skills to cope with their feelings in an acceptable way. Young children are often confronted with situations that are frustrating, like when a friend takes their toy or when daddy is unable to respond to their needs as quickly as they would like. Notice when a child is struggling with frustration and be ready to intervene. Provide words for the child to help him learn how to express his feelings, like “No, don’t push me.”

The Threatened Biter feels a sense of danger and may respond by biting as a self-defense. For some children biting is a way to try to gain a sense of control, especially when they are feeling overwhelmed with their environment. Provide your toddler with nurturing support to help him understand that he and his possessions are safe.

The Imitative Biter is just doing when he or she has learned. It’s not unusual for a child to observe a friend bite, then try it out for herself. Offer the child many examples of loving kind behavior. Never bit e a child to demonstrate how it feels to be bitten.

The Attention-Seeking Biter, like all children, love attention from adults. When parents give lots of attention for negative behavior, such as biting, children learn that biting is a good way to get attention. Provide lots of positive attention every day and minimize the negative attention to behavior such as biting.

The Power Biter is trying to satisfy his strong needs for independent and control. Provide many opportunities for your toddler to make simple choices throughout the day. It is also important to reinforce all the toddler’s attempts at positive social behavior each day.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Learn the Signs - Act Early

Parents who know the basic milestones in a child’s development are able to recognize delays and make sure their child receives help to address them.

During their child’s early years, parents are keenly aware of changes in physical development, such as height and weight. There are also important milestones children should reach in terms of how they play, learn, speak, and act. Smiling for the first time, making eye contact, and pointing are a few of these developmental milestones.

Parents need to know about developmental milestones as they are an important way to track a child’s overall development. Also, the earlier a child with a developmental delay receives help, the better chance the child has to achieve his or her full potential.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with a coalition of national partners, recently launched a public awareness campaign, "Learn the Signs. Act Early." The campaign is designed to educate parents about childhood development, including early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders, and promote early action among parents and health care professionals.

As of now, about half of children with developmental disorders are not diagnosed until school age. Many signs of delay can be easy to see. For example, a two-year-old should be able to:
  • Point to an object when asked
  • Use two- to four-word sentences
  • Follow simple instructions
Every child is different and develops at his or her own pace, but most children reach major milestones within a certain range of time. Parents should learn the milestones, but recognize that their child might develop some skills earlier and some later than other children of the same age.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why Dads Should Read Bedtime Stories

Often, when teachers and other people involved with education talk about parental involvement, it’s assumed that they mean mothers. But research shows that children’s literacy levels improve substantially when their dads get involved with reading.

Dads and other male care givers are just as important as moms in encouraging children to enjoy reading and perhaps even more so when it comes to boys since reading is often thought of as a “girly” thing to do.

Dads can be role models and seeing them enjoy reading will help boys and girls alike to pick up a book and try it.

Children who have favorite books when they are young tend to do better in school. Regular reading for pleasure and enjoyment can be the foundation for educational success and good life long reading habits.

Now don’t worry dads, when your child reaches school they will have their own methods of teaching kids to read. You’re most important job for the first five years of their life is to spark an interest in books and show them how fun reading can be.

Dads can support children’s reading by:
¨ Talking to them about the world around them.
¨ Setting aside a certain time each day for shared reading.
¨ Singing songs to them.
¨ Taking them to the library.
¨ Playing word games.
¨ Involving them with your reading interests.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Breaking Out of Unhealthy Marital Interactions

For couples today, there’s an abundance of information on how to sustain healthy and happy marital relationships. From how-to books to expert advice given in magazines, on television, radio and the Internet, couples are bombarded with strategies, tips, and techniques focused on how to improve their relationships. What many couples fail to realize is that these positive practices won’t work without addressing negative patterns and destructive behaviors in their relationship.

According to marriage and relationship researcher Dr. John Gottman, there are four negative patterns of interaction that are major destroyers of marital relationships. They are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

Couples should avoid criticism or using hurtful or judgmental comments aimed at their partner’s character or personality. More complex is contempt, or an attempt to psychologically abuse a partner through disrespectful statements and actions. Contempt can be both verbal and non-verbal, such as sarcasm, mockery, or simply rolling your eyes in disgust.

Contempt can often lead to defensiveness. Individuals often have a natural defensive reaction to criticism and contempt. However, couples can be defensive even when criticism is constructive and may be a response to previous, current, or future attacks. Finally, partners may stonewall, or put a physical or psychological wall around themselves, to avoid conflict.

Unfortunately continual avoidance can lead to even greater conflict between couples. It’s important to identify and break these negative cycles of behavior before they destroy your marriage.

Source: Family Album Radio

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Friends during Early Adolescence

If you have a son or daughter between the ages of 10 and 17, you probably have heard, "But Mom, Dad, all my friends do, have, or wear…" something you don't want them to do, have, or wear. During the early teen years, the need to fit in with peers is stronger than at any other age. And as friendships become closer, peers have more influence.

Parents may worry that their children's friends, especially new ones, might be a bad influence or that they'll fall into the "wrong crowd." But you can help your young teen develop healthy friendships.

Keep in mind that peer pressure can be positive. Help your child choose friends whose values, activities, and behaviors are consistent with your family's. Get to know your child's friends and their parents.

Make sure your child is in a safe environment after school. At some time in the young teen's schedule, allow some down time with friends in a safe place with adult supervision. This helps young teens learn important social skills.

Talk with your young adolescent about making good choices and resisting pressure to disobey rules or values. Teach her or him how to get out of a dangerous or inappropriate situation.
Show your child what a good friendship is. It may be simply listening to a family member or friend who needs to talk something over. Children who see their parents treat each other and their friends with kindness and respect have a head start on learning how to develop healthy friendships for their early teen years.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

     Assisted living facilities are a type of housing for frail elders and people with physical and mental disabilities who don't need nursing care but cannot live independently. These residences offer personal care, health care, around-the-clock supervision, and other services. With a wide variety of facilities out there, selecting a residence may be difficult.

     If you or a family member is thinking about a move to an assisted living residence, it's important to visit several times and to make at least one unannounced visit. Look for a warm, home-like atmosphere where residents seem happy and staff members are friendly. The facility should be easy to get around with a walker or wheelchair, be comfortably cooled or heated, and have a security plan.

     Visit during mealtime to check out the quality of the food, where and when it is served, and residents' enjoyment of their meal and time together. You'll want to see the rooms to envision whether they are large enough to meet your needs for kitchen and bathroom space.  There are many other questions family members will want to consider, such as whether it offers social, recreational, and spiritual activities, and whether transportation is provided.

     Also, check with the Better Business Bureau or the state agency on aging for any complaints against the facility and be certain the facility is licensed. Make sure you know what is included in the monthly rate and the costs of any other needed services. Request a sample contract and read it carefully, getting any advice you need from people you trust.

Source: Family Album Radio, Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Attachment: A Lifelong Commitment

Many people use the terms "bonding" and "attachment" as if they were the same. Actually they mean quite different things. Bonding has to do with the parent’s tie to the infant that occurs in the first hours of life. We think of bonding as occurring almost instantly, when the parent first has contact with the infant at birth. That may be a magical moment for parents, but babies do not quite realize the first moments after birth as critical to building relationships with parents. Although babies do enjoy the closeness they feel with parents immediately after birth, bonding is basically a parent phenomenon.
The term "attachment" refers to a relationship between baby and parent that develops gradually and builds over a long period of time— both parties take a role in the relationship— you could call it a lifelong partnership.
Babies come into the world ready to build relationships with the adults who care for them. Babies communicate with caregivers by gazing at their faces, recognizing their familiar voices, grasping their fingers, smiling at them, and crying when they need or want them.
As babies grow, they develop new ways of communicating and responding to caregivers. If parents learn their baby's cues and provide experiences that the baby finds consistent and responsive to his needs, he will develop a trust in himself and in others--a secure attachment relationship. It takes time for trust to develop, beginning from the earliest interactions between baby and caregiver through the first year of life.
Because this process is one of building a long-term relationship, even infants who did not have immediate contact with their parent (due to adoption, illness, or premature birth) can become securely attached. Even attachment that is not secure at the end of the first year may change for the better if circumstances improve.
Just as relationships between adults are based on what they do together over time, infant/caregiver attachment is also build upon all that is shared over the weeks, months and year of early childhood.