Kids and technology…resistance is futile

AliMadison

By Ali Madison, Marketing Communications Manager at Trios Health

Mother of two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn't have a cell phone until I was in college, and neither did most of my friends. Now, many kids have smart phones, tablets, and more before they even get to high school; even infants are using technology more than ever before. Not only are they getting it sooner, but the platform and application options continually expand along with the capabilities each offers. It can feel a little overwhelming.

It's easy to understand why some parents feel a little unsure about the proliferation of technology into our children's lives--after all, we grew up playing outside, getting dirty, and using our imaginations, right? We didn't sit around and stare at backlit screens all day interacting with a two-dimensional rather than three-dimensional world. So how do we handle the new era we've found ourselves raising our own kids in?

I think all of our TherMOMeter moms agree that technology can be a good thing for kids--even essential and life-enabling in the case of our mom whose daughter relies on it to communicate-and it's definitely not going anywhere. It has become integral to daily life at home, at school, and at work, across all ages and industries. And the things it allows us to do and learn are nearly limitless. We need to think about how to best embrace it rather than fight it because it's different from our own childhoods or because we fear the potential downsides.

Perhaps it's about maintaining focus on its upsides rather than on how too much of it can be a bad thing. We as parents get to decide what "too much" is for our own children, and to determine the mix of content they access. We also get to decide when it's time to go outside and play, read a book, or do an art project. But by finding a way to let technology add value in healthy ways, we're helping prepare our children to live and thrive in their world--today's amazing and fast-paced world--while still leaving plenty of time for learning, playing, and creating the way many of us grew up doing it.

Our TherMOMeter team has offered a variety of creative approaches for managing children's technology use in the latest installment, from nightly device check-ins to earned screen time. Try what you think will work best for your family, and if it doesn't, hit refresh until you find the balance you're looking for.

The June/July issue is here. Check out Makeover Winner: Caroline Morrow

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Makeover Winner: Caroline Morrow

Because I said so! - Momisms

TherMOMeter - Taking the temp on hot issues moms face with Trios Health

Toss It - Delish salad and dip recipes

Grow your own salad - plant a garden with your kids

Summer bucket list - plan for a fun summer

SuperDad: Dan Riedlinger - sponsored by Tri Cities Americans

Helping moms chart a healthy course with picky eaters

AliMadison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Ali Madison, Marketing Communications Manager at Trios Health, Mother of two

I love this issue's TherMOMeter feedback on how to handle picky eaters in your household! At every stage of a child's development, they recognize and learn to express preferences, which can be quite challenging for parents. As the mom of a toddler with very specific food preferences-mostly he prefers other things to eating-I already see the creativity and mountains of patience it can take to instill healthy eating habits early on.

Some days, meal time feels like a long and winding voyage with rough seas and countless course corrections, but with a small parting of clouds and a glimmer of sun on the horizon that keeps us parents motoring on. And some days, that journey of persistence and hope suddenly smacks into a brick wall and we wave our white flag, vowing to try again tomorrow.

But fear not-smoother sailing is ahead for those of us struggling with this challenge, because this month's TherMOMeter installment is packed with amazing ideas to make the whole thing easier on us AND our kids. And it's certainly a worthwhile endeavor, because healthy habits now translate to healthy habits throughout life.

I love how so many of the moms on our team offered such a positive, well-balanced perspective on how to push without being pushy and when to let go. And through their ideas, they demonstrated that patience and persistence, applied in the right ways, can really pay off. I came away with several different ideas that I think might work for my family, and hope others will too.

SUPERDAD GIVEAWAY

Do you know a SuperDAD?  Maybe he's your DAD, the father of your children or a close friend?

Nominate him for the 2014/2015 Tri-City Americans SuperDAD!

The Tri-City Americans partner with MOM Magazine each season to honor amazing dads in OUR community!  Each SuperDAD highlighted in select issues receives tickets for the family to enjoy a scheduled game where DAD is publicly recognized on the ice.  While enjoying the game, the family also receives 4 t-shirts, and of course, MOM Magazine shares the SuperDAD's story in our issue!

This year, we're giving away additional tickets to select games as well!

Share the SUPERDAD in your life's story in a comment below on our blog!  You'll not only be entered to win a set of tickets for a select game in the 2014/2015 season, but your SUPERDAD MIGHT be chosen for a future issue!  Winners will be announced throughout the season at least 2 weeks prior to each SuperDAD game.  (No purchase necessary to win.)

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Congratulations again to our 2013/2014 season SuperDAD's pictured below!

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Check out the April/May issue of MOM Magazine

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Cover MOM: Karrie Truman Gets Real!

Because I said so! - Happy Mother's Day from MOM Magazine

TherMOMeter - Taking the temp on health issues moms face with Trios Health

Hit the road - Favorite road trip destinations

Camp Songs - You'll love these classics

Some assembly required - Recipes that are so easy we can't call them cooking

Summer Fun - Tips for a fun and educational summer

Buckle Up - Car Safety recommendations

26 Love Letters for Mama - An inspired Mother's Day Gift

SuperDad: Michael Mead - sponsored by Tri-Cities Americans

 

 

Cleaning Up with College Savings

Spring is in full bloom, and that means it's time for a fresh start! While Mother Nature is busy shaking out her shabby winter coat and unveiling her colorful beauty, I'm not one to be outdone; let the spring cleaning commence! Yes, I 'm a victim of that terrible cliché - I just can't help it. Plus, if your household's anything like mine, it's a necessary evil after a dreary winter of being cooped up inside. But while spring cleaning is an opportunity to de-clutter and freshen up the house, it's important not to forget your finances. Just as the humble abode needs some TLC at times, so does the family budget.

An essential piece of any parent's budget is college savings. If it's not currently a part of yours, it's definitely worth consideration, because as fast as your kids are outgrowing last year's clothes, so go the prime years for growing their college funds. On top of that, you're probably aware of the direction that college expenses have been heading over the last couple of decades. If not, just look upwards. Annual tuition at both WSU and UW is now a five figure proposition, and is becoming increasingly challenging to afford without the help of costly student loans. Add in room and board, books and supplies and multiply it by four years, and you're looking at the cost of four brand new mid-level cars (or one really awesome car)!

GET littlegrads (1)

If you're stuck wondering what to do or where to start, the first place to look is at 529 savings plans, which are specifically designed to maximize your college savings. Our plan in Washington, the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program, is especially noteworthy. As with all 529 plans, savings in a GET account grow tax-free and remain tax-free when withdrawn for qualified higher education expenses. But what makes GET unique is that your savings are guaranteed by the state of Washington to keep pace with rising tuition costs in our state. Since GET accounts are not subject to the ups and downs of the stock market, you have peace of mind knowing your money will be there when you need it. It's also easy to get started, as there are many flexible payment options, from pay-as-you-go lump sum deposits to customizable monthly payment plans.

Something that trips families up as they begin looking into the program is the misconception that it can only be used in Washington. In fact, GET can be used nearly any public or private university, college or technical school in the country, and has already been used in all 50 states and 14 foreign countries. Many families also delay getting their college savings started because they're banking on financial aid, and concerned how a GET account might affect their eligibility. Fortunately, in most cases, college savings have a relatively small impact (typically, parental assets make up about 5.6% of the Expected Family Contribution formula). The other thing to be mindful of is that financial aid packages often are heavily loan-based, especially for middle-income families.

By saving while your children are young, you're making a commitment to their future dreams and ambitions, and saving yourself a lot of pain later. So this spring, as you're busy shooing dust bunnies out from the corners, don't forget to look for ways to get your college savings started. To learn more about GET and enroll online, visit www.get.wa.gov. The annual enrollment period ends May 31, and once an account is open, contributions can be made at the current unit price through June 30.

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Eating new/healthy foods. When and how do/did you start pushing the issue with kids who are picky eaters?

TherMOMeter PicBrittney Kluse

I feel fortunate that both of my kids eat anything and everything! From the age of 6 months, we would give each of the kids samples of everything on our plates. Once they reached a year old, they began eating the same meals we prepared. This doesn't necessarily mean they liked it every time, but it was a rule that for each meal, they ate what we ate-no special side meals.

I received excellent advice from my pediatrician.  He said, "Kids won't starve themselves.  Maybe it will take a day or two or three or even a week, but eventually they'll get hungry enough to accept that green bean!" I took his advice to heart. My four-year old's favorite food is currently pho (Vietnamese), and my two-year old daughter's is saltwater clams. I feel fortunate not to have picky eaters, but I credit that to diligence with their eating habits early in their lives.

 

Sara Gonzalez-Smith

I always encourage my children to try everything on their plate. I think helping picky eaters to avoid becoming picky eaters requires a fine balance of continuing to offer a variety of food choices, yet not fighting them to eat every last bite.

It is amazing to me that when you continue to place the same food on their plates, even if they rejected it before, they will eventually try it. In the case of my boys, they often like it. Don't give up and submit to their pickiness. Keep trying by offering them different kinds of food, then model for them by eating it yourself. Eventually, your work will pay off.

 

Melissa Brooks

This is not an issue with Abbey, partly because she has very high sensory seeking issues. She has an issue with overeating and putting some things in her mouth that are not food. She is becoming quite overweight because of this.

My son, Wesley, is much higher functioning, but his sensory issue is being very sensitive. He will only eat a few foods, like pizza with pepperoni and no cheese,  plain hamburgers, one kind of chips, one kind of chocolate bar, one kind of pop tarts, one kind of cereal, and bacon. He will also eat plain bread, sometimes. As he gets older, he gets more set in his pattern.

In the hope that he would try some of what he prepares, we have tried to include him in food preparation to increase his exposure to other foods. This has been very unsuccessful. While he has no problem handling the food, he will not try any of it.

His occupational therapist continues to try to expose him to different textures with things like different kinds of play dough, etc. We try to find variations of things he already likes, and sometimes, he will try them.

We worked hard on getting him to take vitamins. He can swallow them well now, so we make sure to get him high quality vitamins to try to make sure he gets what he needs. I know that gradually exposing children to new foods can be quite successful, but not for all.

 

Elouise Sparks

You have to introduce various types of food to your child early on. When they start eating solid foods, you make them a small portion. Then, try it in front of them to show them how good it tastes to you. More than likely, if they see you eating it, they will want to try it!

 

Gwendolyn Price

Eating healthy foods and deciding what your child's eating habits will be stems from the parents. Some parents might not see this as a concern and let their child eat whatever he/she wants. Other parents take this issue very seriously and make sure to include all food groups into a child's diet in order to make sure they are strong and healthy.

For me, I believe I would put myself somewhere in between these two groups. I do believe it is very important for a child to eat healthy foods, and they should always be eager to try new things. However, I don't stress it upon them too much only because I know I am a picky eater sometimes. I cannot teach something to my kids that I am not willing to do myself.

Both of my boys are very picky at times, but to compare them, they are like night and day. George's favorite food is macaroni and cheese, so if I make macaroni and cheese, he's going to eat it. Louis is different. I still have not seen him willingly eat macaroni and cheese or, for that matter, any pasta. He will eat a whole plate of rice or potatoes, though. Even as babies, George favored the meat flavored baby foods. Louis favored the sweet potatoes and fruit. I think the only thing they can both agree on is that they enjoy eating chicken.

I attended a training once where they taught that a child has to taste a certain food a certain amount of times before he starts to like it. I cook a variety of foods, and I let them try it if they are curious. They will usually try the foods that I cook and eventually begin to like it. My hope is that by the time they are older, they will have a well-rounded meal plan for themselves and enjoy a much larger variety of foods.

As for the junk food category, I don't really care for it. My children don't drink soda. They can eat candy occasionally, but I'd rather they didn't. I'm not so fond of foods and drinks that lack nutrition or give my children empty calories. I try to cut those out as much as possible.

 

Nicole Wyles

My girls just turned one. With that, we have been working on eating many different kinds of solid foods. We attempt to eat solid foods three times a day, sitting up in their high-chairs. I give them many options throughout the day, but it always comes back to the same stuff. One likes cheese while the other likes raspberries. In times of desperation when I can't get them to eat anything else, I would rather they eat real food than take a bottle. Then, I give in, and they get cheese and raspberries.

I hope that as they get older, perhaps they can be reasoned with? Or perhaps I am creating the picky eater for life? Oh well, I am a picky eater too. It's not the worst thing ever.

 

Natasha Gordon

I will never forget one of Rilie's first check-ups with his pediatrician. We were all discussing future nutrition, and she brought up a study that was done with children and food. A group of different aged kids were asked to name their favorite vegetable. The majority responded with French Fries.

That opened my eyes and brought me back to my own childhood where nutrition wasn't a big thing in the house. It made me want better for my children, especially living in a very on-the-go society today. When our oldest was a just baby, we always tried to eat dinner as a whole family around the dining room table.

Until just recently, I have chosen to keep foods like soda, candy, ice cream, and fast foods basically off limits or to an absolute bare minimum. At Halloween, all of their candy gets sent to their cousins who are stationed elsewhere in the army, or it's donated. They are perfectly happy letting it all go. We've received a lot of comments that we are depriving our children of a good childhood because we limit sugar and "junk", but we see it as setting the foundation for healthy eating habits later in life.

When we go out to eat now at a sit-down restaurant, they are given the option of having whatever they'd like on the menu. They always choose to get apples or broccoli and milk or water over fries and soda.

When Rilie was first diagnosed with ADHD, we decided to control it via elimination of high fructose corn syrup and food dyes - especially reds. He only fought us when he'd come back from a family member's house who wasn't quite on board with us and had an item that normally he couldn't have at home. Now that we've worked all of the kinks out and everyone is on board, there isn't a fight. He can tell you what he can and can't have as well as how it will affect him if he does consume it.

 

Meg Zanol

My two-year old is already a picky eater - but toddler style. He will want something one day and not the next, or he will only want a certain color of food one day and refuse it the next. His favorite food used to be cheese, but now he'll barely touch it.

Since he's a toddler who is picky about everything and just learning how to express his preferences, I don't push the issue too much. He definitely does not get to eat whatever he wants, but as long as he's got a balanced meal, most days I let him explore his likes and dislikes as much as I can.

 

Kate Green

My diet has changed A LOT in the past year, but I didn't want it to be as drastic for my boys. I try introducing one new thing at a time, or I give them bites of my food. Then, they can see that healthy food is good too!

They have been mostly receptive to all the new meal options; with the exception of asparagus…they do not like that! We have gone from eating fast food, or just unhealthy food in general, several nights a week to eating home cooked meals most evenings. We still enjoy "splurge nights" where we will go out to dinner or get a treat. I think that helps keep us balanced.

 

Norma Velasquez

I have always tried to serve healthy food to my kids. My husband is from Honduras, and I am from Mexico. We have a variety of foods. Some of my kids loved vegetables from as early as six months, and other still hate vegetables at age twenty-three.

My husband and I always cook using meat/chicken or seafood, rice, beans and a side of some type of vegetable. Everyone has to try a little bit of each item, and of course, eat everything they like.

We used to have a consequence for those picky eaters. For example, if you did not finish your food, you had to do dishes.

 

Emily Jaceks

I tried to start healthy habits as early as possible, but one day my daughter will love something and want to eat it for every meal. The next day, she won't touch it. If she refuses to eat something after trying it a few times, I'll give that particular food a rest for a while and substitute a different healthy option. The key is not forcing her to eat something she isn't interested in. Chances are, after a break, she will forget she doesn't like that food and love it again!

 

Josette Trunnell

Eating new and healthy food. That is a tough topic! You have those kids who will eat everything and anything. Then, there are those who will only eat "specific foods" and are just plain picky! Well, if mom doesn't want to be a short-order cook, then this issue needs resolved fast. There is a very fine line between forcing them to eat and allowing them to choose when and what to eat. Obesity is such a big issue that there has to be parental intervention and control, but to do that and not have mealtime become a battle ground is also a slippery slope.

I approached this rather matter-of-factly. I started with a healthy cupboard. The only food brought into the house was food that I did not care when or how much they ate. Fruits and veggies were in ready supply. There were no cookies, cakes, or chips and crackers stacked in the cupboards. They were given those foods, but they were part of the "menu".  Then, they went away.

If we had hamburgers, there were chips. Birthdays and holidays brought cakes, pies, cookies and candy, but it was not present at other times. If we wanted a treat, ice cream for example, we went out for it, or purchased enough for that "treat day".  Treats were allowed, but they were not provided on a regular basis. As a result, they learned to choose snacks that were healthy - that was all there was.

As they grew older, they didn't deviate much because they had not acquired a taste for or a habit of snacking. I am amazed still at how many bags of chips and cookies I throw out. They grow stale and aged in my cupboard if they were not finished at the time they are originally opened.

Mealtimes were similar. I had a menu with the "regular foods", rotated through based on prep time and cooking time. Now and again new recipes were tried or new foods introduced. They were required to try it. If it was not a "hit", it just went away - no discussion. If something was made that was objected to by one or two children, it was made again, but the objectors were not required to eat it and something else was substituted. Over time, they all ate it, or it was retired from the menu or saved for a special meal. Meals were about activities and enjoying each other's company. Meals were not about the foods and what was eaten. Amazing to me that they all developed different tastes in foods and likes as adults.

One of my fondest memories was of my middle daughter at about age 10. We were at a restaurant, and she asked the waitress if they had any flavor of soda besides water. The confused waitress started to respond, and I jumped in, "They may have other types, but water is just fine, thank you."  My daughter stated quite insistently, "My friend's mother takes her out to eat where they serve flavored soda.  Why do we only go to places with just water-flavored soda?" I still notice that they order water more often than any other beverage when we are dining out. Good habits are hard to break.

 

Brooke Lamberson

Oh, the picky eater stage. I honestly believe every kid goes through this, some just a little worse than others. When my first son was little, I was worrying myself silly thinking, "Oh, he isn't getting enough food, he won't eat (insert whatever meal here)!"

I had a very wise family doctor give me some words of advice. Our doctor said, "You never see the bones of a kid just sitting there at the table, now do you?" It was that down-to-earth thinking that snapped me back. I offer the food, insist on one bite at each meal, and then I let that be that. If my kiddos are hungry, they are going to eat at the next meal. I just don't really worry about it.

I think many children also go through phases where they prefer just a few kinds of food. Again, all we can do as moms is offer them other things and not beat ourselves up about it.

Also, with the pickier ones, I just offer the healthier options. I will trade things out-wheat pasta for white, farm fresh eggs, and organic veggies. Just pick things that are important to you.

 

Kristi Paulus

My little girl is a great eater, but she's not terribly adventurous! There are about five meals that she loves (salmon is her favorite), and getting her to try anything new can be a challenge.

To be honest, as long as her diet is healthy, I really don't push new foods on her-unless I think she'll love something if she gives it a chance. I recently prodded her to try my perfectly cooked rib-eye, and she almost ate my entire steak! I often remind her that she'll never know her next favorite food if she isn't a good "tryer".  This works sometimes, but when I recently tried to talk her into venturing beyond her beloved cheese sandwich in her school lunch, I received a resounding "NO!".

Beyond peas, carrots, and green beans, Lola is not a big veggie eater. However, she loves salad, and a couple nights per week, we have only "Big Salad".  I hide spinach in her "Big Salad", so I know she's getting some good greens on a regular basis. We don't eat any fast food at all (except pizza) which is a bonus for her overall diet.

Lola is a healthy kid, and I am confident one day she will gleefully eat a wide range of veggies and other foods. But, for the sake of full disclosure, I'll confess that I didn't like broccoli until I was 40. She still has plenty of time!

 

Tiffany Flager

I have been quite fortunate in that none of my three children are very picky eaters. Each has their own likes and dislikes as everyone does, so I just try to alter their meals to ensure that they get the proper nutrients. Of course, I also strive to keep my kids happy at mealtimes. For example, my three-year-old does not like milk.  I have tried everything; whole, two-percent, soy, even flavored milk, but to no avail. Fortunately, I've had much better luck with yogurt and cheese in making sure she consumes enough calcium.

When my children were babies, I would start them out with the baby food, preferably vegetables, first. Then, I transitioned them to fruits because I believed they would prefer the sweeter taste of the fruits to that of the vegetables.

Like most toddlers, my kids ate when they wanted, if they wanted to. I did my best to have healthy snacks readily available at all times so that when they did get hungry, they could snack on those instead of junk food.

The reason I've been so successful with my kids' eating habits is that I prefer not to rule my table with an iron fist. I never force my kids to eat everything that's on their plate. Instead, I only ask that they try everything at least once before they determine whether or not they like it. As long as we set positive examples by empowering our children to make smart food choices from day one, it will set the tone for a longer, healthier, and fuller life.

Trios Health TherMOMeter feature focused on child’s total health, collective wisdom of moms

AliMadison

By Ali Madison, Marketing Communications Manager at Trios Health, Mother of two

Moms are amazing. I knew that long before I ever became one, and now that I have children of my own, I'm more convinced of it than ever. As moms, we wear many hats, with no shortage of decisions to make and issues to face--large and small--throughout every stage of our children's development. We don't get it right every time, but we'll exhaust ourselves trying because we care so much for our babies.

If you're like me, you don't always know what your own personal answer is to some of the parenting issues you'll encounter until they happen and you're prompted to figure it out. How do you know what the right decision is? The truth is that every family is unique, and if there was one right answer for everything, that manual I often daydream about would actually exist.

I think most of us consult a variety of familiar and trusted sources, and embark on some good old fashioned trial and error until we land on what works for us. These can include personal lessons learned, examples from growing up, observations of others, online research, parenting books, or advice from friends or family. And even though I pull from all of these, I end up taking most of my cues from other moms.

When we put our heads together as moms, amazing ideas are created and brought to light--which is why we embarked on the TherMOMeter concept with MOM Magazine. When it comes to issues that affect the total health and well-being of our children, who better to brainstorm with than other moms--in your own community--who are tackling the very same things?

I'm excited to watch this year full of sharing unfold, and I'm ready to take notes. Together with MOM Magazine, we have assembled a fantastic and highly diverse team of moms who have graciously offered to share their experiences and perspectives on a range of hot parenting topics. We worked hard to find at least one mom for every cross-section of our community to relate to. I'm already learning from the team's varied insights after just the first installment on social issues. Next up in the April/May issue is how to handle picky eaters, and boy am I ever ready for that one!

Stay tuned…lots of great stuff ahead.

Create some leprechaun mischief this St. Patrick's Day

Happy St Patricks Day

Happy Valentines Day

Fun Games with Candy Hearts

valentine candy

  • Candy Hearts Bingo: Simple enough - instead of playing with chips or dots, play bing with candy hearts. Everyone gets to keep their candy while the bingo winners get an extra pack to take home!
  • Candy Hearts in a Jar: Fill a mason jar with candy hearts (count em') and guess how many are in the jar. Write the guesses on a scrap of paper with their name and then announce the winner!
  • Candy Hearts Match Up: Split up your candy heart supply, whether by phrase or color, and orchestrate matching games for the kids to play, i.e. play music while students walk around and circle together with others who have like colors or words on their hearts.
  • Candy Hearts Pick Up: Give each player a pair of chopsticks, a small cup or bowl, and a plate of candy hearts. Set a timer for two minutes while players try and place as many candy hearts as they can in their cup or bowl with the chopsticks. At then end, count the total number of candy hearts they were able to place in their cup with the chopsticks, and the kid with the most wins a fun prize!

For these and other fun ideas, visit Room Mom Spot