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Healthier Kids in 2013

Here’s a New Years’ resolution that will help your child stay healthier in 2013. Give them cheese and veggies as an afternoon snack.

A new study has found that healthy snacks can help take the edge off of kids’ between-meal hunger pangs.  In fact, it may even help put a dent in rates of childhood obesity.

According to a story on WebMD.com, children who were given cheese and vegetables as a snack ate 72% fewer calories than children who snacked on potato chips.  The impact was even greater for kids who were overweight or obese.

The study involved about 200 kids entering third or sixth grade. They were given chips, cheese, veggies, or a combination of veggies and cheese, and allowed to snack freely while watching a 45-minute TV show.

Kids who chose the veggies-only option took in the fewest calories, but those offered the combo snack or cheese only took in about the same number of calories. Either option meant far fewer calories than those who were served chips, which suggests that replacing potato chips even with cheese alone may be an option.

The good news is that children will accept healthier snacks.  Erin Corrigan, a clinical nutrition manager at Miami Children’s Hospital in Florida, says “snacks are an important part of a child’s diet if you provide nutrient-dense foods.”

Although cheese can be high in calories, it is also high in protein and calcium, Corrigan says “Fruits and vegetables have more fiber, which helps people feel full quicker and longer.  When combined with protein it’s the perfect combination for a well-balanced snack.”

Other possible healthy options include and yogurt and granola, hummus and veggies, and peanut, sunflower, or almond nut butter with fruit or whole-grain crackers.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Rude Grandson

Dear Dr. Bill,

My 9-year-old grandson likes to express his views in a rude and critical way.  Recently, I took him and his younger siblings on a trip to Florida.  But when things weren’t going the way he wanted, he began to criticize me about how his little sister who is 4, wasn’t having any fun.  In reality, I had made a special point of entertaining her while her brothers were fishing.

We seem to get into a situation like this every time we spend an extended amount of time together.  I love my grandson dearly, but I can’t stand his rudeness.  What should I do?

–Nicole

Dear Nicole,

If your grandson is rude and critical, that is a character problem that his parents need to deal with.  I’m assuming you’ve discussed this issue with his parents—if not, you need to.

Naturally you’ll want to choose your words carefully, and whatever you do, don’t criticize their parenting skills.  Instead, let them know how much you love your grandson and want him to succeed in life.  Explain that you’ve noticed he often expresses his opinions in a rude and critical way.

If his parents agree that it’s a problem, ask if they would like your input.  If they’re open to it, you might suggest they read a good book on instilling character in kids.  One suggestion is Jill Rigby’s book “Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World”.

If his parents deny there is a problem with his behavior and react defensively, there are obviously much larger issues at play in the family.  In that case, you can only control how you respond to your grandson.  Be loving but firm, and instruct rather than simply getting angry.

Thanks for writing Nicole.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Hold the Salt!

Here’s an important story for parents as we get ready to enter the New Year. Are your kids getting too much SALT in their diet?  The fact is that childhood obesity is a growing problem in the US, and excess salt intake may have a lot to do with it.

CBS News writer Ryan Jaslow reports on a new study done in Australia—it found that reducing the amount of salt in kids’ diets may be a first step in preventing obesity. That’s because salty foods lead kids to reach for sugary drinks—a major contributor to childhood obesity.

The researchers tracked the eating and drinking habits of 4,200 Australian kids. They found that the kids who took in the most salt, also consumed the most sugary drinks.

For every one gram of salt per day, children took in 17 grams per day more of a sugary drink.  Children who drank more than one serving per day of a sugary drink were more likely to be obese.

While we know that salty foods can cause us to be thirsty, experts were quick to point out the study did not show cause and effect for salt’s role in obesity.

By the way, The American Heart Association recommends that people should take in no more than 1,500 milligrams milligrams of sodium each day.

However, a recent survey found most Americans average 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day, mostly from processed and restaurant foods.

And what are the biggest sodium culprits?  Breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup and sandwiches.

To learn more about a healthy level of salt intake, go to the Heart Association’s website at heart.org.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

CLICK HERE for the audio version of this article.

Reading the Christmas Story

Guess what people are tracking this Christmas season (and it’s not a man in a red hat). If you guessed the number of times the Christmas story was read on-line you’d be right!  Oh, and have you read the Christmas story with your family this year? ~ Garrett

http://churchm.ag/christmas-story-tracker/

Concerned Grandma Asks About Grandson’s Development

Dear Dr. Bill,

My daughter has a 1-year-old boy who is starting to walk but hasn’t begun talking yet — no “Mama,” “Dada” or anything else. If he wants something, he just points and screeches very loudly!

I’ve also noticed that he often stares off in his own little world for a moment or two several times a day. He comes back eventually or you really work to get his attention otherwise. Is this normal behavior? Or could my grandson have some kind of problem — like autism? What do you think?

–Diana


Dear Diana,

I appreciate the fact that you are such an involved, observant grandmother. Your grandkids are fortunate.

Here are my thoughts on your 1-year-old grandson. First of all, the fact that he isn’t talking yet shouldn’t be a concern. Language development varies greatly from child to child.

Many children don’t begin saying “mama” or “dada” until well into their second year of life. Their level of verbal development at their first birthday does NOT predict how verbally skilled they will be by age two or three, or tell you anything about their overall level of intelligence.

On the other hand, I am concerned about the fact that your grandson seems to stare off into space several times each day, and that you have to work to regain his attention. This could be a sign of a hearing problem, a developmental delay, or even recurring minor seizures.

Given your description, I would suggest your daughter make an appointment with her family physician right away, and describe the behaviors she is observing at home. The physician should give your grandson a complete medical and developmental evaluation.

Thanks for writing, Diana. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click on the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

CLICK HERE for the audio version of this article.

4 Tips For Teaching an At-Home Home Ec Class

Click here to learn 4 tips for teaching an at-home home ec class!

Grandmother Asks For Advice About Her Grandson

Dear Dr. Bill,

My son and his wife have been separated for 3 years.  They have joint-custody of their 4-year-old son and I help care for my grandson when he’s with my son.

But now conflict has erupted between me and my former daughter-in-law.  That’s because whenever my grandson visits me, he resists going back home to his mother.  He kicks and screams, and tries to run away with his arms outstretched for me.

I’ve been accused of treating the boy like a king and being lax with discipline.  His grandfather and I do give him a lot of attention — playing games and taking him fishing.  But I can’t imagine why he doesn’t want to return home to his mom.  What should I do?

–Linda

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Dear Linda,

Since many divorces involve a great deal of animosity between the ex-spouses, and that anger can spill over into relationships with grandparents.

I’d sit down with your former daughter-in-law and discuss the situation.  Tell her that you know it’s been difficult for her, and that you never intended to do anything that would interfere with her relationship with her son.

Also, ask yourself if she may have a point.  Do you give in to your grandson when he tantrums or demands his way, or do you set appropriate limits on his behavior?  If you allow him to always get his way when he’s with you, you are definitely making his mother’s job harder.

That being said, I’m concerned about the way he violently protests when returning home.  Could there be a possibility that he is being abused or neglected?

If your daughter-in-law is parenting appropriately and your grandson is acting out simply because he doesn’t want to leave grandma and grandpa’s “fun house,” you’ll need to work together to find a compromise.

Thanks for writing Linda.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, just click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

CLICK HERE for the Audio Version of this post.

12 Tips for Teaching Financial Skills to Children

CLICK HERE to read more about how to teach your kids about finances from Dough Main Blog.

Parents Ask About 11-Year-Old Son’s Obesity

Dear Dr. Bill,

We have an 11-year-old boy who LOVES food.  He’s always asking us for treats or snacks, and becomes disappointed and upset when we say “no.”  Worst of all, he’s 4-foot, 9-inches tall and weighs 114 pounds!

We often talk to our son about the importance of a healthier diet, but we battle with overeating ourselves.  Both of us are 20 to 30 pounds overweight.  We’ve tried not to make things worse by forbidding ALL junk food, yet our son will “pig out” whenever we can’t control his diet.

Of course, we love our son no matter what, but we feel we can’t allow this to go on.  But we don’t want to damage his self-esteem or steal away what he seems to enjoy the most.  What should we do?

–Paul

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Dear Paul,

I consulted with my friend Dr. Walt Larimore, a family physician who is an expert on childhood obesity.

He said that if son weighs 114 pounds and is 4 foot 9, his weight puts him in the 95th percentile for boys his age.  That means he is clinically obese, and at high risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, depression, and early death.  In fact, according to one study, his life expectancy right now is only 46!

Your family needs to make some dramatic lifestyle changes, not just for your son’s sake, but for yours as well.  The fact that you are both overweight puts you at risk for multiple health problems and premature death.

Dr. Larimore suggests that your family focus on five things:  better nutritional choices, an increase in physical activity, eating meals together as a family, better rest and recreation habits, and wiser media choices.  For more specifics, go to supersizedkids.com.

Thanks for writing Paul.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, just click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

CLICK HERE to listen to the audio version of this post.

How Should I Discipline My 11-Month-Old Boy?

Dear Dr. Bill,

My husband and I have 11-month-old twins who are generally good babies. But my son continually is pulling his sister’s hair and even biting her. I have told him “no” over and over again, and I’ve even given him light spank on his legs. He never cries but simply stares at me.

He has also started throwing tantrums — where he give a little grunt and squeal whenever he is frustrated. What do you suggest we do to discipline him?


Dear Amanda,

Some of the behaviors you are describing are a bit unusual. I don’t want to alarm you, but they could be signs of a developmental disorder. I’d recommend that you have your son evaluated by his pediatrician. Describe the behaviors that you are observing and tell the physician how your son responds when you attempt to intervene.

If the doctor gives your son a clean bill of health, you’ll need to try other forms of intervention. With a child his age, the most effective form of intervention is time-out.

I often recommend to parents of toddlers that they use a Pak N’ Play playpen as a “time-out” location. When your son acts aggressively toward his sister, tell him “no” as you’ve been doing, but then immediately remove him from situation and place him in the Pak N’ Play.

Make sure it’s located far enough from the action to be boring, but close enough to monitor him. A good rule of thumb is one minute of time-out for each year of age.

Your son will likely scream and tantrum at being placed in time-out, but don’t give in to the temptation to pick him up until he’s “served his time.” Also, don’t continue to nag or scold him for his misbehavior—that will simply reinforce him by providing him with attention. Instead, ignore him until the time-out is over.

Thanks for writing Amanda. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

CLICK HERE for the audio version of this post.