Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that was developed over 5,000 years ago by the Idus-Sarasvati civilization. Post-Classical Yoga, which was established sometime after 200 BC, was the beginning of what we in the west call yoga. As describe by Yoga Basics, “Yoga masters created a system of practices designed to rejuvenate the body and prolong life. They rejected the teachings of the ancient Vedas and embraced the physical body as the means to achieve enlightenment.”.
The Modern Period and popularization of yoga in the west happened during the 1800s and 1900s when gurus started visiting western countries and attracting followers. Today, many of us in the west use yoga as a form of exercise and wellness. We participate in stretches and poses to relax and strengthen muscles also creates flexibility and develops balance and core strength. While yoga has been primarily thought of as an adult activity, I am here to educate on how beneficial it can be for children!
Yoga provides the same benefits for children that it does for adults. A child who participates in yoga develops gross motor skills, core muscles, and balance. Yoga is an excellent tool to help children calm down and self-regulate. Most importantly, yoga is physical activity, which in today’s world of iPads, electronic devices, and sitting at a desk during school, is especially critical.
My hands-down favorite for children’s Yoga is Cosmic Kids. These yoga journeys are not only physical movement, but they provide mindfulness and are presented through a story, which means they promote literacy as well! Triple score! I have used these repeatedly in my preschool classroom, and my two children, ages 9 and 6, love them as well. They have a story for just about every character and storyline you could think of. Have fun with your children, and jump in alongside them. Children are the epitome of Monkey See Monkey Do, they want to be just like the important adults in their lives. The bonus is you get a workout too! Not to mention, it is a fun way to bond. Some of them include bursts of running, jumping, and other cardio making it a whole body workout! Making fitness and wellness, a family affair has benefits for everyone.
Statistic time! When children learn the importance of health and wellness at a young age, they are much more likely to continue those habits into adulthood. According to the CDC, 18.5% of children between the ages of 2-19 suffer from pediatric or childhood obesity. Those are staggering numbers. With the technology available at every turn, it can be difficult to entice children away from those devices. Therefore, I say make the devices part of the routine. Use sites like Cosmic Kids, GoNoodle, and artists such as Jack Hartman and The Learning Station to engage your children in an activity, movement, and song. Many of these videos are available free on YouTube!
Get up and get moving! Teach your child the healthy benefits of yoga and exercise, and have fun at the same time!
Summer is just about upon us, and with the stay at home orders lifting all around the country, parents and kids alike are ready to get out and have some fun! If cabin fever has your boiling, here is list of easy, low cost and fun ideas for everyone!
Make popsicles! Fresh fruit slices and juices make a delicious and healthy treat that everyone can participate in and enjoy. All you need is a pop mold, sticks and your choice of fruits and juices. Moms and Dads make your own special adult ones by adding some vodka or rum!
Create a water and ball pit for the kids to splash and play in. All you need is a large plastic kiddies pool, water, some beach toys, and those small plastic balls known and loved by children for generations.
Watch science sites for news of any meteor showers, lay out a blanket in the backyard and catch some stars. Or, you can simply sit outside and star gaze and look for constellations.
Have a movie night in the backyard! Buy a plain white sheet and a movie projector and enjoy some family fun outside. Home movie projectors go for about $120 on Amazon.
Learn a new game! Purchase a croquet or badminton set and have fun honing your athletic skills. Bean bag tosses, ultimate Frisbee, Cornhole, Ladder Toss and giant Jenga are all great options too!
Find a nature center and take a hike. You can use this opportunity to do a nature scavenger hunt, pack a picnic, or go wading through some streams.
Have a bubble party. Bubble machines make it easy to have bubbles go every direction. Pick a beautiful breezy day, stock up on bubbles and bubble machines, and have some fun!
Have a tie-dye session! Tie-dye kits are sold at just about every major retailer and online, add water and some white cotton clothing, and go for it! You can tie-dye shirts, bandannas, skirts, shorts; you name it!
Participate in a service project together. Many shelters and organizations that are collecting donations. Community parks and neighborhoods also have projects also need volunteers too. Contact a local group and teach your children the value of helping others.
Support a local farmer’s market. Small businesses need support more than ever. Whether you are looking for the freshest strawberries, local honey, or hand made candles, your purchase will help those struggling to keep their business thriving.
Big ideas or small summer is the time to get outside and enjoy family fun, and after being copped up for so long, we are all in need of a little sunshine and fresh air!
Your kid will not starve themselves, I promise. Parents concerned about their child’s eating habits is probably the number one concern I have heard in my 14 years of teaching early childhood. Parents surveyed once their children are older reflect that worrying about what their child ate was among the top three things on which they wish they focused less.
As adults, we have this lovely ability to eat emotionally. Got a new job? Let’s celebrate with tacos and margaritas until we’re so stuffed we can’t even move. Your boyfriend broke up with you? You have the right to gorge yourself on chocolate cake and ice cream. Have your children stressed you to the point of no return? Time to break out the Girl Scout cookies and wine. It’s what we do. Happy, Sad, Stressed we reward or comfort ourselves with food. Children do not have that emotional attachment to food yet; therefore, we don’t need to worry about them over or under eating. They eat when they are hungry. That’s it.
Now, don’t get me wrong, children can most definitely learn poor eating habits, and when we, as adults, use food as a constant reward or punishment, we are sowing the seeds of emotional eating. Food should be food. Food can be fun and engaging, but it is food, something our body needs to survive. If your child is presented with multiple options consistently, they will be more likely to try new things. When we, as parents, worry that Billy doesn’t like anything other than chicken nuggets and fruit snacks, and hence only feed him that, we are depriving him of the opportunity to grow emotionally and physically. I have seen it so often; a child brings the same lunch every day because mom or dad believes their child will go hungry unless they send the same five things known to be approved by their 4-year-old. Guess what? They won’t. If your child refuses to eat the food given to them, yes, they may be a little hungry. But they will remember what it feels like, that maybe they were a little grumpy or tired and after a few times of that feeling they will eat. They will not starve. They are not biologically nor evolutionary designed to allows themselves to.
Here is where the fun science stuff comes in! Metaphorically raise your hand if you have a picky eater at home… right, most of us have or do. I have one now, and I know the struggle. Now, what if I told you there is an evolutionary-based reason for this, would you feel better? Young children, specifically between the ages of 3-6, are designed to be picky eaters, so they don’t poison themselves. Back in the early human days of hunting and gathering, young children were often left unattended. They would wander and play with other kids, and to make sure the human race didn’t kill itself off, evolution made young children extremely wary of unknown foods. Hence, the creation of the modern-day picky eater.
No one likes to see their child upset, but when we regularly give in to the whining and demands and make them mac and cheese for the 4th straight night in a row, we are allowing them to be in control, and we’re the adults, that’s kind of our job. I get it, I’ve been there, I’ve capitulated too, it’s human. But the key is to make giving in the exception, not the rule. I had the battle of breakfast myself today. My nine-year-old wanted frozen french toast sticks with syrup and powdered sugar. I am okay with that; he’s a mostly healthy and adventurous eater. The problem was, he wanted to take that sticky and messy meal to sit in the basement and watch TV. I said no. I explained that the meal was too messy to eat down there, and the tirade began. I don’t trust him, and I never let him do anything, I am so unfair. I calmly stated, again, why he was not allowed to eat such a messy meal over the carpeted floor and said what would be unfair is not to allow him to eat at all. He stormed away, saying that since I wouldn’t let him eat, he was going to the basement. Not what I said, kid, but okay.
Fifteen minutes later, he contritely came upstairs and politely asked if he could have breakfast. See, it works. I didn’t enjoy it, it raised my stress levels, and I had yet to imbibe the delicious smelling coffee sitting out on our coffee bar calling to me. But, he was used to my consistency and knew it was a losing battle to push. My younger one could live on fruit and candy, and he’d be happy. That’s not sustainable, of course, but he is in the picky phase. So I keep the house stocked with the healthy things I know he likes: oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, grilled chicken, cheese, and granola bars. I also make new and non-favorites regularly and place them on his plate. When dealing with a picky eater, you should always make sure they have at least one thing on their plate that you know they like. That way they are guaranteed to eat something. Then consistently and methodically keep trying the unliked foods and encouraging one bite. That’s it—one bite.
Don’t ever force them to finish the whole plate; this is another way to create an unhealthy relationship with food. If they say they are full, then they are full. They will not starve themselves. If you served them their usual portion of chicken nuggets and they say they are not hungry, okay. Since you know your child likes chicken nuggets, let them know if they are hungry later, they will be having the nuggets before they have something else. I currently have 2/3 of a requested hot dog sitting in limbo.
In the end, you know your child best, and you have to do what you feel is right for your kid. When parents come to me with this concern, I impart a cliff notes version of the above, and I ask them to speak to their pediatrician. If your child’s doctor is not concerned with their eating habits or weight, then realistically, neither should you. We all want happy, healthy children, and concern about their nutrition is valid.
Food should be enjoyable. We should certainly find times to celebrate our triumphs are share our sorrows over a meal. A staple in every major holiday is the food. So celebrate the diverse options we have in this world. Enjoy the night our with friend’s just because. I simply ask you to consider the science behind children and their eating and the benefits of creating a healthy relationship between your child and food as young as you can. You will make it through, and they won’t starve. Promise.