Aha! Parenting Moments Weekly 3-28-16

Did you grow up as I did, building dams in the stream, climbing trees, and chasing fireflies as the evening darkened? If you did, you'll agree with me that all children deserve those experiences.

Nowadays, though, many of us don't have yards. Even if we do, when we try to send our kids outside, there's often no one to play with. And most parents worry that we have to stay outside with them to keep them safe -- but we have to make dinner! 

So most kids spend most of their time inside.  As a result, the average fifth grader, given a choice, prefers to stay inside, close to electrical sockets and all the entertainment sources they power.

But your grandmother was right: Kids need fresh air and exercise. We all do. Families who find ways to be outdoors together nurture not only their bodies, but their connection to all of life -- and to each other. Kids who spend time outside in nature, research shows, are:

  • Calmer - This is particularly important for ADHD kids because it lowers their need for medication, but fresh air soothes the senses of all children.
  • Happier - Studies show sunshine, fresh air and physical activity all encourage good moods, diminish anxiety and reduce tendencies toward depression.
  • Healthier - Many kids who don't get enough time outdoors are Vitamin D deficient, affecting health and mood. Indoor air is also usually less healthy. And kids who play outdoors more even have better vision and less need for eyeglasses, presumably because they stare at screens less.
  • Less likely to be overweight - Pediatricians recommend at least an hour of active physical play daily during childhood to protect against obesity and diabetes.
  • Better students - Research shows that kids who play outdoors actually have longer attention spans, more frustration tolerance, and do better in school. Kids even do better on tests if they are allowed to play first. It's not just that it gets their wiggles out. It's all that oxygen to the brain.
  • More creative - Outdoor play is often less structured than what kids do indoors with technology, so kids exercise their imaginations as well as their bodies.

The answer? .....

Ages and Stages

In this culture, unfortunately, many of us eat diets that aren't very healthy, and we don't get enough exercise. That's true for our kids, too. In fact, experts suggest that this is the first generation that's less healthy than their parents.

Unfortunately, when you mix kids' junk food consumption and lack of exercise with our cultural obsession with thinness, it's a perfect storm for eating disorders. Guess how many teens in the US will develop eating disorders? 23% of girls and 6% of boys!

So eating disorders are a serious risk factor for our children. Luckily, parents have a lot more power than they realize to prevent eating disorders, but our intervention works best when it starts early. Intervening in adolescence, when kids need to assert their right to control their own bodies, is tricky and less effective.

What can you do to prevent your child from developing an eating disorder? Help your child develop a healthy body AND a healthy body image....

Question OF THE WEEK

Dr. Laura...We are having a problem with our 18 month old son hitting his head when he is frustrated or can't have what he wants. He will head butt us (or just hit us) if we tell him no, and he will hit his head, really hard, on anything around him, including hard surfaces like the floor or tables etc. I try to not react to tantrums like this, but I'm worried about him hurting himself. He has already given himself several nasty bruises and a cut lip. With regular hitting we always hold his hands, tell him no very firmly, and if he continues, he goes to time out. We have been doing this for about 2 months, but the hitting is not letting up.


We all know that children need unconditional love. 

This puts parents in a difficult position, because unconditional love means the child feels the parent's love without the requirement of the child doing anything at all -- including behaving. And yet, we know that children need our guidance...

April Fools Quotes

"My idea of the best joke ever is to hang a plastic cockroach with a piece of fishing line from the ceiling of your sister’s bedroom." - Bella Boyd, Grade 4

“When you duct tape the sink sprayer trigger down so when your parents turn on the water it sprays them.” - Jeffrey Kato-Dilks, Grade 2
“Last year my dad got me with an egg. Now this year I’m going to get him with a pie gun!” - Frances Lear, Grade 3

“I would tell my mom that I’m pregnant.” - Brandon Taylor, Kindergarten
“Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else.” - Will Roger

"Suppose the world were only one of God's jokes, would you work any the less to make it a good joke instead of a bad one?" -- George Bernard Shaw
“Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee, and I’ll forgive Thy great big one on me." - Robert Frost
"It is the ability to take a joke, not make one, that proves you have a sense of humor."  - Max Eastman

“Even the gods love jokes.”- Plato
“Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you have to act like one ALL the time.” – Dr. Laura

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids