Build Your Child’s Reading Skills This Summer!

Looking for ways to get your child to read when school’s not in session? iVillage has partnered with PBS Parents to bring you a free, four-week reading challenge that will help you make reading a fun, easy part of everyday life for your kids.  Sign up today and starting on Monday, July 5, you’ll get daily ideas to help you turn everyday activities with your kids into adventures that build reading skills.

What I really like about the site is that it also includes great reading guides:

Kid’s guide to reading fun
Great books for kids of all ages
10 ways to grow a bookworm

What are you waiting for?  Sign up and get reading!

Michael Jordan on Failure

I really love the message that Michael Jordan is saying in this ad — “I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

One of my biggest challenges as a mom is getting my 6-year old to take mistakes or defeat as a learning experience and not a personal failure.    Teaching him to read bigger words usually ends in tears of frustration and sobbed-out phrases like “I can’t do it.  It’s so hard. ”   Saying “try and try until you succeed” will only get you so far until it become too repetitive and ignored.

I’ve always wondered how other parents nurture their kids.   How do you teach them to be competitive yet sportsmanlike?  How do you teach them that losing is not the end of the world?

Quote of the Day

So what’s the secret to being a great mom? Time and patience. To me, you bring children into the world and yes, it does take time, it does take patience— because no two children are alike. To me, you take every child and what their biggest strength is and you build upon that strength to make them have a consistently good self-esteem and make them feel good about themselves.

— Debbie Phelps

Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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Picky eaters are made, not born

I count my lucky stars that A is growing up to be an omnivore. We have deliberately gone out of our way to introduce our son to different tastes (from sweet to sour) and cuisines from different parts of the world. It is my personal philosophy that with our ever shrinking borders, globalization pertains not only to business but to cultural experiences as well. In order to succeed, we must teach our children to be open to new smells, new tastes and new textures.

A is equally as comfortable using chopsticks as he is the fork and spoon. For him, wasabi chips are yummy, as is chicken curry. Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t exactly been an easy journey. We have had a number of spirited negotiations over what to eat and how much to eat but A has learned that everything should be tried at least twice. If he really doesn’t like it, then it’s ok. At least he tried. I breathe a sigh of relief and satisfaction whenever he finishes what’s on his plate and asks for more (which is happening more and more often).   Funnily enough,  2 years ago,  his class conducted a blind taste test to illustrate the various tastes: sweet, sour, salty etc.  He was the only kid who said “yummy” to all, including patis.  =)

A few days ago, we had a mini-encounter which got me thinking about picky eaters. Research has shown that while food neophobia (fear of of new food) appears to be genetic, it can be addressed. Biology is not destiny. Ellyn Satter has written a wonderful book called Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense which posits a simple yet very powerful message: It is the parent’s job to determine the what and when of feeding: what food gets offered and when. And it is the child’s job to determine if he will eat the food and how much.

The Mayo Clinic has also put forth practical tips to avoid mealtime battles. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Respect your child’s hunger — or lack thereof. Young children tend to eat only when they’re hungry. If your child isn’t hungry, don’t force a meal or snack.
  2. Stay calm. If your child senses that you’re unhappy with his or her eating habits, it may become a battle of wills. Threats and punishments only reinforce the power struggle.
  3. Boycott the clean plate club. Don’t force your child to clean his or her plate. This may only ignite — or reinforce — a power struggle over food. Instead, allow your child to stop eating when he or she is full.
  4. Leave taste out of it. Talk about a food’s color, shape, aroma and texture — not whether it tastes good.
  5. Be patient with new foods. Young children often touch or smell new foods, and may even put tiny bits in their mouths and then take them back out again. Your child may need repeated exposure to a new food before he or she takes the first bite.
  6. Recruit your child’s help. At the grocery store, ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. Don’t buy anything that you don’t want your child to eat. At home, encourage your child to help you rinse veggies, stir batter or set the table.
  7. Set a good example. If you eat a variety of healthy foods, your child is more likely to follow suit.
  8. Minimize distractions. Turn off the television during meals, and don’t allow books or toys at the table.
  9. Don’t offer dessert as a reward. Withholding dessert sends the message that dessert is the best food, which may only increase your child’s desire for sweets. You might select one or two nights a week as dessert nights, and skip dessert the rest of the week. Or redefine dessert as fruit, yogurt or other healthy choices.
  10. Expect some food preferences to stick. As kids mature, they tend to become less picky about food. Still, everyone has food preferences. Don’t expect your child to like everything.

It is the small steps that count. Don’t give up (or in) on your child and head to the nearest burger or pizza joint every single time. More importantly, don’t have separate foods for different individuals. We subscribe to the school of thought that eating is a social experience meant to be shared by all and it simply won’t do if you have family members cut themselves off from the rest.

Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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