News & Views
from   The Parenting Center at Abington

.   Parenting Tips for Better Health

   Having recently read an article called "The Top Five Nutrition Tips," I thought it would be a helpful idea to combine some of the information in that article with another I will call "The Top Five Parenting Tips." Here they are:

     1) Eat more fruits & vegetables.
You read this all the time. We need to eat five servings a day; sometimes hard to do. But if we consider that a glass of orange juice counts as a serving, it does not sound so hard to swallow!

     1) Find your children doing something good five times a day.
Sometimes we feel one of the most important parts of our job as parents is to tell our children what they are doing wrong and how they can do things better. Let's rewrite that part of our job description. While we do need to teach our children what the rules are, we also need to work on "catching" them doing things that we appreciate. Maybe our older son called his younger sister a nasty name this morning, but he helped her with her math homework later that night. Let him know how much you appreciate that.

     2) Eat more fiber.
Fiber keeps cardiovascular and gastrointestinal disease at bay and even some types of cancer. Additionally, fiber is an important part of a weight-loss strategy since high-fiber foods tend to be more filling.

     2)Listen more.
Work at listening to your children. How many times do we interrupt our children as they are telling us something because we feel the overwhelming urge to judge what they are telling us? Don't you wish somebody would just listen to you when you need to vent without jumping in with advice and suggestions? While our judgment of what our children are telling us gives us a chance to teach them right from wrong (building up their moral fiber, so to speak), try to listen first. Bring up the helpful suggestions later when the child may be more ready to listen to you.

     3)Manage your weight.
Being overweight can increase your risk for developing several diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. Among the countless weight-loss strategies being touted, which is best for you? Use common sense and use what works for your body. The same program does not work for everybody.

     3)Learn about child development and unique temperaments.
Not knowing what is normal behavior for each age and developmental phase can set the stage for anger, anxiety, and unrealistic expectations, causing frustration for parents and children. It is very important to understand that nature has set up time clocks for our children and that at certain times of their lives the alarm goes off and they seem to change overnight. It's part of growing up.
Any parent with more than one child can tell you how different each child can be. Realize each child's special and unique characteristics.
Don't compare and, like your weight program, do what is right for each child.
By the way, each family is unique, too. Don't base any parenting you do on what works for other people. It is fine to take suggestions, opinions and expert advice and think about it. But tailor it for your own family and do what works for you and your children.

     4)Know your nutrients.
Do you know which nutrients you should be getting? Should you take supplements? If you are aware of what the latest research shows, you can decide what the best foods are and how much you need.

     4)Know your children's friends and what your children are doing at their friends' houses.
Although I'd like to say this is a no-brainer, I know that's not true. Sometimes we assume that our children have chosen the proper friends because everything seems to be going okay. Take an active interest in your kids and spend time with them and their friends, starting from when they are little ones playing in the sandbox. Invite your children's friends over, give them snacks, treat them with respect. Call their parents when your child is invited over to their houses, just to chat and let the other parent know you are on top of things.

     5)Do it for life.
Eating healthfully is not about being on a diet. It is a life-long habit of nourishing your body in a reasonable and realistic way; finding a balance.

     5)Do it for life.
Being a parent is a job that will last a lifetime. Work is important and time for ourselves is important, but we need to find a way to balance our own personal needs with the need to nurture a healthy relationship with our children. When you consciously work at building a sense of trust, connection and respect with your children, you are nourishing a relationship that will bring you a lifetime of rewards.

If you don't know where to start on becoming a better parent, there are places you can call. Your child's school guidance counselor can be a place to start, you can look in the blue pages of your phone book, or call a friend you trust and ask them to help you. Take a workshop or attend discussions at a Parenting Center.

Keeping our bodies healthy takes vigilance and some hard work. Keeping our families healthy also can require hard work and effort. The healthy habits and skills we develop as parents can nurture our families in important and long lasting ways.

By: Claire Gawinowicz, Certified Parenting Educator

April 2000
Vol. 2/ Issue 6

A publication from The Parenting Center at Abington
P.O. Box 596, Abington, PA 19001 (215) 576-0586

Printing of this newsletter is courtesy of the Abington Memorial Hospital.

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