All Entries For kids

CONTEST CLOSED Win a Copy of Our Healthy Lunches E-book


CONTEST CLOSED

SparkPeople want to help you get your kids off to a healthy start this school year. That's why we are giving away 10 copies of our latest e-book: A Month of Fun and Healthy School Lunches from SparkPeople, written by our very own Samantha Donohue, dailySpark blogger and healthy lunch packer extraordinaire.

Since Samantha's three children were born, she has prepared more than 8,000 healthy lunches, which means that she has also cut more than 64,000 crusts off her kids' sandwiches. She has tons of great tips and tricks for packing creative, nutritious meals that kids will like--and that won't take very much time! We also asked Dietitian Becky, who has a son in high school and a daughter in college, and Chef Meg, who has three teenage boy--including twins, for their best ideas! 

We think it's just what you need to get kids excited about packing lunch--with ideas and recipes for meals they'll actually eat.

Enter the contest today! 
Posted 8/27/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 5 comments   12,645 views
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How to Keep Your Child Safe in Cyberspace


Technology is everywhere.  Personal computers and smart phones grant us easy access to games, chatting forums, and countless threads of information that seep into every corner of our lives. 

When we think of children's cyber safety, we most often think of monitoring Internet use on computers.  And some parents do, though not enough.  One study of teen Internet safety reported that 75% of teens said that their parents almost never monitor their use. Additionally, almost one-third of teens surveyed said their parents would disapprove of how they spend their time on the Internet. 

Besides computers, other devices need monitoring, too.  Kids and teens now chat, share pictures, and watch videos on cell phones and gaming systems. Downloaded games on smart phones and gaming devices often have a chat component within them—and these games can usually be played with random online ''buddies.''

What technology does your child have access to?  What technology does your child have that allows others to have access TO your child?   Do you trust blindly or monitor closely?  Would your child know what to do if he came across inappropriate content or if someone asked her questions through a chat?

Recently, the playroom door in our house was closed.  It is never closed, so it caught my attention.  I opened it and my 7-year-old son, with his gaming device in hand, looked up with an ''Oh, no, I didn't expect you to walk into the room'' expression.   Without thinking, I blurted out, ''Put your hands where I can see them and don't move!''  (Perhaps I need to cut back on TV.)  I took his game and found that he was watching a video that was borderline inappropriate for his age—I would deem it ''okay,'' but only with adult explanation of its content.  Unbeknownst to me, the system regularly gives the (child) user notifications and access to new games, music videos, and the like. 

It became clear that a ''switch'' had turned on in his little brain, and he had to be monitored more closely than I'd realized. 
Posted 8/23/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 17 comments   13,049 views
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Parenting is NOT One-Size-Fits-All


The advice starts pouring in as soon as your belly starts to show.

First, they want to tell you how to give birth. Then, they have wisdom about how to feed the baby. Breastfeeding, bottle feeding--doesn't matter. The world has opinions and those opinions don't care what's working best for you and your child and your lives. Just when you thought no one could have any more to say about food, it's time to start solids. Actually, it probably was time a month ago. Unless you've already started, in which case, that's too early! The food advice slows only when the questions about the big developmental milestones start flowing. ''Is he walking yet? Has she started talking? Here's how you get them ready…''

And of course, there's the mother of all parenting advice: ''Enjoy them now! They grow so fast."

Some of my best parenting tricks have come from the advice of others. My sister taught me how to diaper a baby boy to prevent leaks. My mom helped me learn to ignore the small tantrums of a toddler. I got my boys to at least try everything on their plates thanks to the advice of a blogger. A preschool teacher taught me how to turn on my sons' ''listening ears'' before issuing commands. I'm all for using the wisdom of the masses to make my life easier.

But I've also gotten some really rotten advice, advice that makes life harder if only by its existence.

Posted 8/14/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 29 comments   7,762 views
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A Month of Fun, Healthy School Lunches


Want to get kids off to a healthy start this school year? So does SparkPeople! That's why our very own Samantha Donohue, dailySpark blogger and healthy lunch packer extraordinaire, wrote our latest e-book: A Month of Fun and Healthy School Lunches from SparkPeople.

We think it's just what you need to get kids excited about packing lunch--with tips and recipes for meals they'll actually eat.

With A Month of Fun and Healthy School Lunches, you'll end the food fight and get kids excited about packing lunch--with fun yet simple meals they'll actually eat. Written by a mother of three, with 50 easy and healthy recipes plus plenty of ideas tested by real parents in real life, this e-book turns lunchtime into fun time while reinforcing the importance of eating right!

The book includes:
  • Tips for Making Healthy School Lunches Kids Will Actually Eat
  • Mom-Tested Tips for Saving Money and Time
  • Fun, Easy Ways to Turn Lunch into Something Special
  • The Basics of Planning a Healthy Lunch
  • Dozens of Meal Ideas: DIY Lunches, Finger Foods, Sandwich Makeovers and More
  • Also: Tips for Teens, Tweens, and Kids Who Insist on Buying Lunch
  • Bonus: 25 Healthy, Kid-Friendly After-School Snack Ideas!

The book is available now on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com for just $2.99.

No e-reader? No problem!  If you don't have an e-reader, such as a Kindle or NOOK, you can still read these e-books. Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble offer free downloads of their e-reader apps for PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and other mobile devices. 


Click here for more info about our other great e-books, which are a fun way to learn more about healthy cooking.
Posted 8/13/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 2 comments   14,117 views
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Kindergarten 'Redshirting': A Leg Up or an Unfair Advantage?


August is flying by. All too soon a new school year will begin, and with it will come the same mixed feelings and buzz of energy that surrounded the end of the school year. Besides the traditional anxieties of getting to the bus stop on time and remembering to pack a healthy lunch, for many parents of kindergarten-age students, there is another anxiety, this one with much higher stakes than being tardy on the first day of school: When should you enroll your child in kindergarten?   

When we were kids, most US children started school at 5 years old.  It's a much bigger decision now, with controversy and even politics on both sides of the issue.
I followed the old rule and kept it simple.  I enrolled my son in kindergarten for one reason: He was 5 years old, and being five meant going to kindergarten.  He started school two days after his late August birthday in 2009. To me, it was a no-brainer. From the start, there were good signs: In the first week of kindergarten he met his (still) best friend, and their birthdays are less than a week apart!  They were instant buddies. 

But the naïve bubble in which I was living soon burst. 

Their birthdays are within a week of each other, in two different years.  His newfound chum was an entire year older than him and there were kids in his class who were nearly 18 months older than him (At age five, that's almost a third of your life older!)  Evidently, it was not as simple as I thought.

How much did you (or do you) think about when to start your son or daughter in kindergarten?  Is your child one of the youngest or the oldest in the class?  Have you heard the term redshirting?
Posted 8/9/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 120 comments   37,039 views
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Reader's Request: How Do You Get Kids to Eat a Healthy Lunch?


It's almost parents' favorite time of year: back-to-school.

That's why we're asking for your help. We hear from members all the time how difficult it can be to get kids to eat right--and even more so when they're away from home and tempted by pizza and chocolate milk in the lunch line.

Would you be willing to share your best tips in the comments below?
Posted 8/3/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 47 comments   11,881 views
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Can We Teach Ourselves (and Our Kids) to Be Happier?


Every morning, I start my day with a hot chai.  In the summer, it is a particularly special treat.  Instead of my usual vanilla chai, it is transformed into a half-coconut, half-vanilla chai.  I realize it has too many calories and I should opt for sugar-free syrup (at least it is nonfat), but I consider it my one indulgence.  My one addiction. 

My morning pleasure. 

It makes me happy. 

Happiness.  Most of us want it.  Many of us have it. The drive-thru window where I get my chai provides an interesting backdrop for a small study of the differences in people's levels of happiness. 

There is one girl who is simply bubbling over with happiness each and every time I see her.  It is genuine.  She actually makes you happy.  I would love to meet her parents. 

Then there is another person whom you dread hearing on the speaker and seeing at the window.  Nothing about him even whispers, "Hey, I'm a mostly happy guy."  

With which person do you most identify?

There are two ways that we can think about happiness.  We can consider things that come and go, but bring happiness to us when we experience them (for many, these include shopping, eating, and drinking).  We can also consider something that I think of as our "way of being."  We can have episodes of happiness or we can just simply be happy. 
Posted 7/26/2012  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 27 comments   12,631 views
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How to Get Your Kids to Drink Water


Water is the best thing you can give your kids to drink during the hot summer days. But how do you get them to drink it? How do you get them to chug down plain old water at the pool when they're surrounded by other kids guzzling down sugary juice boxes? How do you get your hard-playing child to drink water instead of sugar-laden sports drinks? How do you expect them to get a bottle of water at the baseball game instead of a cold, fizzy soda?
 
Posted 7/24/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 26 comments   12,052 views
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The Popularity Contest: Why You Don't Need to Finish First


Disclaimer: Psychological research is largely based on averages for groups of people.  We prove practically nothing in psychology!  It is too difficult--people are too complicated! When dealing with the human mind, one size does not fit all.

Think back to your grade school and high school years.  Think about the kids you went to school with.  Who was popular?  How would you describe those kids?  Who did you like the most among your peers?  Why did you like them? 

Research on popularity is now being understood with a new lens.  For decades, it went like this: Researchers would ask kids who they liked and disliked, and would then add up the number of likes and dislikes for each child. Based on the votes, kids were categorized as popular, average, controversial, rejected or neglected.  Those kids who received the most ''like'' votes (and rarely received dislike votes) were classified as ''popular.''

Recently, researchers have been paying attention to children’s comments a little bit more and have started to debate whether being liked is the same as being popular.  The answer: Being liked by many peers is not the same as being considered popular by peers.  Popularity is based more on reputation than on the degree to which one is liked. 

The (mostly) bright side: Popular kids tend to be competent both athletically and academically, and are often physically attractive.  They also show lots of prosocial behaviors and have good senses of humor.  The dark side: Kids who are popular tend to be socially dominant.  Popularity often involves aggressive physical and psychological/social behavior.  For some kids, the more relationally aggressive they are (spreading rumors, threatening not to be somebody’s friend), the more likely they are to maintain their powerful ''popular'' status.  And, unfortunately, when being mean to others pays off, it becomes a reinforcing cycle.
Posted 7/12/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 34 comments   19,132 views
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How to Minimize Summer Sickness


Few things are worse than a summer cold.

Summer is supposed to be a break from the sniffles and sneezes of cold and flu season, but I've found that when you have small children, there is no break from germs. If anything, summer–the season of pools and splash pads, shared water bottles and summer camps–just gives your children more opportunities to bring home a virus.

My boys are in a daycare that has a weekly water day all summer. The school fills up kiddie pools and sprinklers and lets the kids run around splashing and squirting each other. They have a blast. But by the end of the day, the pool is more snot than it is water. And it never fails--everyone in our house is congested and coughing within a week.

I haven't figured out how to avoid the germs altogether, but I do have a few tips for minimizing the damage.

Posted 7/10/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   9,814 views
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How Do We Raise Morally Healthy Children?


You may have heard the recent news about a school bus aide who was tormented to the point of tears by a group of middle school students. The appalling encounter was caught on video and went viral on YouTube. News stories, internet videos and even thousands of dollars of sympathy donations are among the reactions of shocked Americans across the country.  The questions are rampant:  How could the tormenters behave that way?  How does a person sit idly while victimized?  Could the bus aide have done anything to stop the boys?  What did the parents do (or not do) to raise boys that would behave that way?

At some point, all of us have been the victim of someone’s bad judgment, whether it be a comment or glare because of our age, weight, or some physical feature.  It is wrong, but we cannot escape it.  Why are we compelled to hurt other people?  Even worse, why do some take pleasure in hurting others? 

Posted 6/28/2012  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 47 comments   14,514 views
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Have Fun and Stay Safe in the Summer Heat


We live in South Florida. It's summer. And it's hot.

This time of year, it's 80 degrees at 7 a.m. with 80 percent humidity. It can get to be 90 degrees in the shade by noon.
 
I've stopped complaining about it, and my kids, born into this sweltering subtropical region, believe the freezing point to be 50 degrees. Yet, even they protest that it's too hot to play outside during the summer, which is fine by me since I'm constantly worrying that they'll collapse of heat stroke from running around the ''bases'' in our backyard.
 
Still, it's summer, and the kids can't be cooped up all the time. We've discovered a few ways to stay active–and safe–in the heat.
Posted 6/26/2012  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 18 comments   8,706 views
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Quick & Healthy Family Breakfast Ideas


If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it 937 times: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day—for you, and for your kids. You just spent eight hours with no food or water. You’re dehydrated, your blood sugar is low and you have little energy. And now it’s time to hurry the kids off to school before the eight-hour workday. More so than any other point in the day, you all need nourishment. Breakfast eaters typically cruise until lunch, while beaming with energy.

Scratch those unhealthy breakfasts. Here are some healthy and quick ideas for the whole family:
Posted 6/24/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 21 comments   20,918 views
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5 Weight Loss Tips for Breastfeeding Moms


Breastmilk is the ideal first food for your baby. Breastfeeding had been found to help speed recovery after labor for the mom and assists in losing weight gained during pregnancy.

While there are many things moms wish they had known about breastfeeding, one of the most common concerns relates to frustration at not losing all their pregnancy weight. Not eating enough calories is the biggest barrier to weight loss success during breastfeeding. Many times moms incorrectly believe that cutting calories is the key to weight loss after pregnancy. Unfortunately, they forget the human body is designed to protect itself from starvation during times when food isn't readily available. The body burns calories all day long as part of your basal metabolic rate (BMR), because it takes energy (calories) for your body to perform basic physiological functions that are necessary for life—breathing, digesting, circulating, thinking and more. Add to that, normal daily physical activity (bathing, walking, typing and exercising) and you have the energy needs the body requires each day to function normally.

Maternal fat stores serve as a wonderful and constant source of available energy to ensure the body always has the energy it needs to produce milk at the rate and amount a little one requests. The goal in post-pregnancy nutrition is to encourage the body to slightly dip into maternal energy stores each day to meet the increased energy needs. To promote this process, breastfeeding moms should increase their daily calorie intake after delivery by about 500 calories over their pre-pregnancy needs. When you do this, your metabolism can work efficiently and will rely on approximately 250 additional calories each day from the maternal fat stores. This is about the same amount of energy as if you participated in 30 minutes of mild to moderate cardio activity and will ensure a slow, steady weight loss back to your pre-pregnancy weight.

Here are five principles that can help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight after delivery while making sure you are producing adequate milk to meet your little one's needs.

Posted 6/13/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 11 comments   85,911 views
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Are Your Kids Making You Fat?


A recent Duke University study examined the link between marriage, kids, and obesity among 4,500 couples. The researchers found that for every child a woman has, her risk of becoming obese increases 7%. But women aren’t alone—Dad’s risk also increased (by 4%) for every child.
Posted 6/10/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 7 comments   12,024 views
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