Archives for November 2013

First Aid: An Important Set of Life Skills for Children

I saw a news story a while ago where a six-year-old girl saved her best friend’s life by giving her the Heimlich Maneuver. As I watched the story I was captivated by the children’s matter-of-fact attitude about the incident. Neither child was stunned or amazed, rather,  they both confidently understood that the set of circumstances required swift and particular action and they knew exactly what to do. And it worked!!! I thought about my children and wondered if they would know what to do if someone was choking. Could they save someone’s life? What first aid skills do they have and would they be confident enough to act if necessary? I doubt it, because I have not taught them much about first aid. Instead, I find myself focusing on preventative teaching such as, “Chew your food well so you don’t choke.” Maybe it’s time to have some important conversations about “what to do if….”

We have very little time in our schedule to enroll in a first aid class so I found a resource online that will help get us started. This parenting Qwik Sheet, brought to you by ParentingPress.com, will help parents understand how children can learn first aid and how it is most effectively taught.

 This Qwik Sheet will help parents

• Introduce this important life skill in a way that is fun and worthwhile

• Use humor to relieve fear

• Reinforce lessons for greater retention of information and skills

Parenting Press has also included teaching tips that accommodate both the different ways in which children learn at different developmental levels, and your own personal style.

Remember that, just like any other life skill, parents can support their children’s development in this area with gentle reminders and practice over time. This will build familiarity and comfort with the new set of skills so our children are more likely to  identify times when these skills are necessary and use them with confidence.

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100 Days of Real Food: The Pitch

So I have decided to try this out, 100 Days of Real Food. No cereal, no goldfish, no chips, nothing that comes from the store already processed. Basically this means that we will be eating a lot differently than we were before. We were not eating all that bad before but this would still require a major shift and some willingness from the rest of my family. But how am I going to pitch this to them in a way that gets them excited about the challenge?

Should I appeal to their tastebuds? If we do this, our “unprocessed” food choices will taste so much better.

Should I appeal to their logic? If we do this, we will be so much healthier.

Or should I just bribe them? If we do this successfully then we’ll do something special afterward.

Since I hope this experience will ultimately have an impact on my family’s desire to eat healthier in the long run, I decided to focus my pitch on the benefits of an unprocessed diet. Well, this worked for everyone but my 9 year-old, the pickiest eater in the family. So I modified my approach with him in mind, “You’ll know what is in everything you eat so you will know ahead of time that you’ll like it”. This seemingly sparked his interest, because he did not reject the idea completely. Instead, he rolled his eyes and challenged my intentions by asking, “What will you pack us for lunch then?”

Hmmmm. With everyone at least curious enough to try this and my own intentions building by the day, I set out to create a kitchen full of the things we need to eat in a completely unprocessed way. The basics: flour, yeast, nuts, seeds, grains, eggs, honey, milk, various meat selections, basic seasonings and lots and lots of veggies. All of which we had in our kitchen previously, what changed was the amount of each. And that was not all of the changes we noticed. Upon embarking on our 100 day journey we experienced many changes that we had not predicted. Hint: even changes in what left our house.

Look out for future blog posts where I’ll share more of our family’s experiences from our 100 Days of Real Food.

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Who’s on Your Cheering Squad?

Today’s blog post is submitted by our featured guest contributor, Esther Schiedel.  We hope you enjoy the post and look forward to more posts from Esther.

It may be an instinctive urge that makes relatives (and even total strangers!) want to ensure that all is well with a new baby by making comments on baby’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Unfortunately, what is intended as concern by the speaker can sound like criticism to a parent. A simple question like, “Are you sure the baby is getting enough?” can puncture the confidence of a new mother or father. Worry and sleep deprivation can make even the most benign remark seem like an attack.

When you are a parent, perhaps more than any other time in your life, you need supportive comments and encouraging words. You need people around you who are confident that you are a competent adult who cares about your child and is doing your best in the ever changing, ever challenging job of parenting. People who let you know they have confidence in you. You need a cheering squad.

How do you get a cheering squad?

Method 1. Scouting and try-outs.

Potential cheerleaders can be found among your friends and relatives and in the services, classes, and support groups available to families in the community and online. Not every class or group will suit you, but you need to try it to find that out. Is the facilitator supportive? Is information offered in an understanding and respectful way?

Quality parenting education acknowledges your strengths and cheers you on; it helps you find ways to be the kind of parent you want to be.

The other parents in a class or group may also become cheerleaders for you. They are dealing with the same challenges that you are facing. Hearing from others and sharing about your own experiences puts things in perspective. You may realize how many things are going well for you as well as get new ideas to try for the things you are struggling with.

You may find you can be a cheerleader for others. At almost every La Leche League meeting I lead, a mother who faced a breastfeeding difficulty a month or two ago, offers encouragement to another mother experiencing the same problem.

Method 2. Training those around you.

A good place to start is with your own self-talk. It takes more effort to think about and to acknowledge the things you have done right, and the progress you have made, than to notice what went wrong. But you can strengthen the “notice what’s good” muscle just as you can strengthen any other muscle.

Accept compliments. Stephen Bavolek, creator of the Nurturing Parenting curriculum, points out that not accepting a compliment is like not accepting a paycheck for a job well done.

Start training those around you by noticing what they have done and complimenting them on it. Say Thank You. Explain how their actions helped you and your child.  Give them suggestions for other helpful things they can do. Tell friends and loved ones when you need encouragement.

When the comments that upset you come from those who love you, try to locate and address the concern in the criticism. Sometimes a comment is really a defense of the childrearing practices of the speaker. If you choose to do something differently from what your parents or friends did, they may interpret your choice as a criticism of their parenting. They may need reassurance that they did a good job, too!

You are a smart, caring, and competent parent. Three cheers for you!

Esther Schiedel is parent to three adults, grandparent to two boys, and a Certified Family Life Educator. She provides parenting education through classes and workshops through LBCC and through her business, Sharing Strengths. She became interested in parenting education when she became a parent and had a need for more information and support.

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100 Days of “Real” Food? Yeah Right, Get Real!

So the other day I found myself cruising the internet for a recipe for spaghetti sauce and I ran across this website called 100 Days of Real Food. The author, a wife and working mother of two, decided to try to go 100 days without having ANY processed food in her home. What? No Goldfish, no chips, no store bought bread, no “nutrition bars”, none of the things that make my life (working, with a husband and three kids) convenient, much less tolerable. She must have some tricks, I mused, or at least some short cuts. So I accepted distraction, masked as intention to steal some ideas, and dug into the content of her website and blog.

What I found was both interesting and inspiring. She strategically, laid out her plan, how she invested her family in her idea, the kitchen tools and gadgets she gathered in order to make her journey “doable”. In addition, she realistically admitted that there may be some “processed food” items that she would have to keep around in various quantities. In the blog portion of her website there was also a nice piece honoring the various levels of commitment to this idea. In other words, some families may go “all out” and eliminate ALL processed food while other families may decide to replace processed snacks with fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables.

As I  perused her website, drowning deeper into the abyss of distraction (remember that I was supposed to be looking for a spaghetti sauce recipe), I found myself wondering about my family’s current eating habits and what it would take to get them committed to any version of this way of eating, for even 1 day, much less 100. After at least 30 minutes of mental distraction and several visits to my kitchen pantry, I decided to pitch the idea to my family.

During the month of November I will update you with posts from our family’s journey away from processed food toward a “real” food lifestyle. I will outline the changes that we made, those that worked and those that did not. I will let you know what kitchen equipment made this journey possible, how I got and kept my family on board and I will chronicle the ups and downs of our attempt at 100 Days of Real Food in real life.

Stay tuned because I know you are already wondering what Thanksgiving will be like at my house…

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