The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: May 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

Keep your kids hydrated during the summer

"You're getting warmer!"  That's what an old video game said to my 30-something daughters when they were younger as they played a spelling game.  Video games are light-years away from what they were in the 1980s, but children still need to stay hydrated when they play outside.  The ten tips below come from my friends at www.supernanny.com:

Summertime for most kids is the best time of the year. With all the outdoor activities that kids participate in this time of year and the heat of summer, it’s critical that they stay hydrated. Proportionately, kids have more body fluids than adults and they can get dehydrated faster. Fluids lost in sweat need to be replaced right away in order to stay healthy. By the time they say they are thirsty, dehydration has already begun. Sometimes it can be challenging to keep busy children drinking enough fluids but some of these suggestions may help.
  1. Use lightly flavored waters – There are a variety of flavored waters on the market now and there are sure to be some that will appeal to your kids. Avoid those that are heavy in sugar. Sugar slows the body’s absorption of fluids. Also be aware that you don’t want to overload their systems with artificial sweeteners. One or two drinks per day with a sweetener is fine, but consider other options after that.
  2. Offer sugar free ice pops – Most kids like ice pops and they can easily be made by using ice pop trays or simply pour a beverage in a small paper cup, add a popsicle stick or plastic spoon and freeze. Kids will always come back for more.
  3. Gatorade – This is still one of the best drinks for keeping people hydrated, and kids participating in sports are no exception. If your kid is involved with any summer sports, make sure you have an ample supply on hand and available during practice.
  4. Have fruit handy – Fruit juice has lots of sugar and the more carbohydrates, the slower the absorption of the fluid. Whole fruits on the other hand are mostly water and help with nutrition and fiber as well as aid in hydration. Watermelon, grapes, oranges and apples as well as vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes are excellent sources of water.
  5. Milk and yogurt are good sources of fluid – Kids may enjoy having a long cool drink of milk or one of the flavored yogurt drinks. Also making smoothies out of milk or yogurt adds more nutrition and fiber to the drink in addition to fluids.
  6. Offer the kids a drink of water 6-8 times a day – Even if they are not thirsty, offering a drink of water or flavored water will aid greatly in keeping your kids healthy and hydrated. Try to get 6-8 glasses of water in your kids every day.
  7. Nix peak sun outdoor play – The sun is hottest during afternoon to early evening so try to keep outdoor activities to before noon or after 5 or 6 pm.
  8. Say “no” to caffeinated drinks – Caffeine acts as a diuretic and as such is counter productive to keeping kids hydrated. Since they need more liquid than adults to stay hydrated and they lose fluids faster than adults, it’s crucial to see that the fluids they do take in will aid in keeping them hydrated.
  9. Limit juice intake – Juice at breakfast and as a snack is fine, but don’t use it as a way to keep your kids hydrated throughout the day. Juice does provide nutrition and tastes good, however the sugar in it slows absorption, and it can add unnecessary weight gain if used consistently all day long. As an alternative, you can dilute the juice with water or better still, use a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange to add flavor to plain water.
  10. Keep cool water readily available – Water is still the drink of choice when it comes to hydration. Make sure kids take a water break during outdoor play time every 15 -20 minutes especially on hot days and when involved with sports.
You can easily avoid heat related problems with your children by making sure they drink enough fluids, stay out of the sun and heat during peak times of the day and by monitoring them as they play. Keep summer a happy time for your kids by keeping them healthy.

Happy parenting!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What you say sometimes isn't what kids hear

"Watch your tongue!" How many times did I hear that when I was growing up?  More than I can count.  Apparently I had a rather acerbic tongue and my mother found it rather objectionable.  What I heard was, "See how your tongue forms the words you say."  That's not quite the message that my mother wanted to get across, so that's probably why she had to keep saying the same thing over and over.  Maybe if she had said something like "The words you just said hurt me," I might have thought twice about saying them again.  Here are some other misconstrued messages you might give your children:

What you say: "I don't care about..."
What they hear: "I care more about what I'm doing right now than about what you want to tell me."  Kids have agendas that parents don't understand.  They might want to tell you about the snake skin they found in the back yard or about the picture they just drew of the dream they had.  If you're too busy and tell them you don't care what they're saying, they are unlikely to come to you when they are older and have more life-threatening tidbits to share with you. Listen to your children, no matter how insignificant their stories may seem to you.  To the children who are telling them to the person they love most, they are very important.
What you should say instead: "I don't have time right now.  Come back in a few minutes after I finish this phone call and you can tell me all about it."  Your child will likely wait patiently by the phone, anxiously holding his picture or snake skin until you're ready to give your undivided attention.

What you say: "I'll think about it"
What they hear: "That'll never happen!"  I know it's a cop out and I've used it myself when I wanted more time to figure out a way to say no :-)  However, when you tell a child you'll think about their request and then deny it time after time after time, "I'll think about it" becomes an instant no.  In fact, if you say that enough, kids won't come to you with reasonable requests anymore.  They'll simply go out and do whatever they want anyway because they know they'll get a negative response. Not good!
What you should say instead:  "Let's talk about it."  That way you will understand the child's motivation and he will understand yours.  That's the best way to reach a mutual agreement and compromise. 

What you say: "Tell him you're sorry."
What they hear: "I have to lie and say I'm sorry even if I'm not!"  You, the adult, knows that a child should apologize when she wrongs someone else.  I remember when my oldest daughter konked her great-grandmother over the head with a yardstick.  It was unintentional, but it probably hurt, both physically and emotionally.  At the time, if I had told her to say she was sorry, only the words would have come out of her mouth.  The feeling would have remained in her heart.
What you should say instead: "What can you do or say to make her feel better about what you did?" Whenever possible, put the apology ball back in your child's court.  Let him or her decide what needs to be done.  That internalizes the feelings.  You might be surprised by what your child does after she breaks another child's toy (or beats her grandma with a yardstick!).  What did my daughter do?  She gave Grandma a hug, told her she was sorry, and then put the yardstick back where it belonged.  Kids will usually do the right thing when left to their own resources.

Now that you've got the idea, think about other things that you say to your children and then think about how they might be misinterpreted.  And remember to keep what you say positive.  Don't is an invisible word.  So when you tell your child, "Don't pull the cat's tail," the Don't disappears and the child only hears "Pulll the cat's tail!"  What should you say instead? "If you want to pull something, go pull your wagon.  Leave the cat alone." What we say to our children impacts them more than what we do for them sometimes.

Happy parenting!
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