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The Stuff Kids Do

Foodie Friday: Raising a Picky Eater


Pancakes with maple syrup, hold the blueberries

My 3 year old son is a very picky eater, with an emphasis on “very.”

It’s obviously a common problem amongst kids his age, but I feel like it’s getting increasingly worse. He refuses to try new foods and often pushes his plate away, complete with a look a disgust and “blech” sound effects.

The Monkey was great with food until he was about 2 years old. At 2, he stopped drinking from a bottle, which was primarily used for milk. Since he associated milk with a bottle, he stopped drinking milk altogether. He started to push meals away, especially if vegetables were seen on his plate, and started to ask for specific foods. My child, who once devoured my roasted Brussels sprouts, scrambled eggs with veggies, and beet salads, now wants to live on chicken fingers, pizza, and pancakes.

We established a rewards system that is very hit or miss.  We would reward him with a small soy ice cream sandwich or a few organic chocolate covered pretzels as a treat after he ate his dinner. However, as for trying new foods, the reward system doesn’t even work. He would rather skip a treat than try something new. He has been known to throw a tantrum when he doesn’t get what he wants or simply refuses to eat. (continues…)

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A Toddler and his iPhone


My Monkey with his two favorite things - his iPhone and his monkey. A pic taken with my iPhone, of course.

My two year old has his own iPhone.

Now, before you think I am absolutely insane to buy an expensive phone for my toddler, let me assure you that I did not run out and drop $300 on a new phone for him. No way. However, being the ultimate tech-geek that he is, the Dude did run out a few months ago to get himself the new iPhone 4G. This meant that we had his old iPhone available to be donated to a good cause. We quickly realized that the best cause was our little Monkey.

The Monkey has been playing with our iPhones since around his 2nd birthday, nearly one year ago. When I discovered how toddler-friendly certain iPhone apps could be for him, I researched the most educational and creative apps and loaded them up on our iPhones. I was so impressed with certain apps, that I wrote a post back in April about my favorite iPhone apps for toddlers. With thousands of hits, that post quickly became my most popular blog post. Either there are a ton of other parents out there letting their toddlers play with their iPhone and iPads or people are simply curious to learn more about it.

It does seem that more and more people are discovering that it’s smart to let your kids play with smart phones. An iPhone or other smart phone can, with proper guidance and supervision, be used as a valuable teaching tool for children. The interactive content on an iPhone can help developing brains learn how to problem-solve and figure things out quickly and, when exposed to educational apps, a toddler’s learning process can actually be enhanced. Consider apps to be a valuable supplement to the teaching process already going on in your home or in preschool.

There are pros and cons to letting a toddler use an iPhone, so here are my helpful ideas on safe iPhone play: (continues…)

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Start Talking Before They Start Drinking

underage_drinkingDid you know that the month of April has been designated Alcohol Awareness Month? I didn’t either until I was contacted on behalf of the new Underage Drinking website, which was developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This new public education website was created in support of the Surgeon General’s call to action to bring more awareness to parents about the negative effects of drinking alcohol at an early age. Alcohol abuse is a critical issue because it remains the  biggest substance abuse problem among our youth.

Some startling facts about underage drinking:

  • Children who first use alcohol before the age of 15 are six times more likely to have alcohol problems than those who start drinking after the age of 21.
  • 40% of children have tried alcohol before 8th grade.
  • 75% of high school seniors have tried alcohol.
  • According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die as a result of drinking alcohol.
  • 11% of 8th graders, 22% of 10th graders, and 29% of 12th graders have engaged in heavy episodic  (binge) drinking.
  • Children are starting to drink much earlier than ever before. The average age of first use in 2003 was 14. In 1965, the average age was 17.5.

The new website suggests short and frequent discussions rather than have “the talk” which can be long and intimidating for children. Many children will simply tune parents out, especially if they are being talked *at* and not *to.* When you start a dialogue with your child, make sure to ask them questions and make time for their questions, too. Another important factor is to establish your rules and thoughts on alcohol use early and consistently. (continues…)

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Foodie Friday: Reservations For Two…Plus A High Chair

My little Monkey is now nearly 29 months old and we don’t go out to very nice restaurants with him at this point. If we do eat out as a family, we’re usually relegated to restaurants that primarily serve pancakes or chicken fingers.  Or that have parrots hanging from the ceiling. Or that not only dole out the crayons, but have crushed crayon on the floors and scribbles on the table. Those are the places that make me feel comfortable and safe when I venture out with the little dude.

It wasn’t always this way.

Within weeks after the Monkey was born, we started to venture out to our favorite places to eat in San Francisco. From about 2 weeks to 6 months, the Dude and I would roll our Monkey along in his carseat to some of our favorite places, including upscale restaurants. Think we’re crazy? I beg to differ. We knew his nap routine perfectly and he always slept like a dream in his carseat. I say to all new-parent friends – go out with your newborn. Take advantage of their nap schedule AND their ability to sleep through anything. Don’t be nervous. There is a very good chance that your newborn will be better behaved than most other patrons.

Around 6 months, his sleep routine changed and so did his activity level. We started to hire babysitters more often.

When we do take the Monkey out, there are a few tips that have helped me along the way. Now, my child is no angel and I would never pretend otherwise. He is a very normal and active toddler who can scream and flail like a banshee when his freedom to do as he pleases is restricted. That said, I have still managed to garner a few compliments from other patrons about his behavior at restaurants. Why? Because I put myself in the shoes of other patrons. I do not like dining around unruly children. I do not want my child to be THAT child. Yet it is inevitable, though. Your child will throw a temper tantrum at some point in public and it is very likely that it will be at a restaurant.

How To Avoid Tantrums (and how to deal with them when they occur): (continues…)

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Mental Monday: Teens and Parents as Friends? Only on Facebook.

I always cringe when I hear a parent refer to their teenager as their best friend.

Some parents may use that term loosely or merely as thoughtless hyperbole but, for just as many other parents, they really do believe it to be true. They do everything with their teenager. They confide in their child about adult-themed content. They joke about and discuss inappropriate subject matter. They gossip with their teenager about their teenage friends. And the rules, discipline, and structure that may have once been present in the home tends to wane significantly or end altogether.

Why do parents do that?

My guess is that some parents just really don’t know how to parent a teenager.

When your child gets older and enters the pre-teen and teenage years, it can be difficult for some parents to know what role to play. While some parents start tightening the reins on the increasing independence of their children, other parents loosen up and start behaving more like a friend. Many teenagers act like mini-adults and will start testing their parents as they explore their new world between childhood and adulthood. And, as I’m sure we all remember well enough, it’s a tough world to live in. You’re too old to act like a child, but you’re also too young to behave like an adult. It can be very frustrating for both the teenager and the parents.

There is no doubt that as your child grows into a teenager, your role as a parent will shift. Once a child enters the pre-teen years, they tend to seek more validity and approval from friends, rather than parents. The opinions and advice of their parents start to lose some of their power. Once a child begins the long journey of self-discovery and identity, they often turn to the people that help define their image: their peers.  Many parents quickly realize that they have lost some influence over their teenager and will resort to treating their teenager as an equal. It could be out of desperation as they strive to keep their independence-seeking teenager close and connected and perhaps regain some approval and respect from their once-adoring child. (continues…)

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