GoodLiving Volume 4, Issue 2 : Page 22

p a r e nt i ng P.L.E.A.S.E. P is for Play Play together more, including role-playing and imaginative games. L is for Love Spend more quality time together. Children may appear to tolerate a parent who is unavailable, overworked or distracted, but they often medicate those diffi cult feelings with food. E is for Emotions Educate yourself and your family by consulting with an expert on hidden feelings. Th ere are many resources and activities that can help improve emotional literacy. Remember, healthy feelings lead to healthy eating. A is for Activity Be more active every day, increasing the amount of exercise your child gets. MAGIC FOR KIDS Ask, Are YOU Feeling Hungry? Or is Your TUMMY Hungry? By AVA PARNASS Looking for a magical way to help your child eat healthier or weigh less? I have one magic trick for getting kids eating and living healthier, and that is, drum roll please….. Prevention and Intervention. S is for Silence Listen more, talk less, pay attention to your child’s clues, and be in the moment. When you speak, keep it positive by demonstrating new skills instead of resorting to punishment and control. E is for Eat Healthy Weight Watchers and Overeaters Anonymous are great places to start learning healthy eating habits. The Food-Mood Makeover: Improving Your Responses It is a surprise to most parents that their kids’ feelings get hungry, Here is a typical parent-child conversation and some alternative responses for the parent. How we respond can make all the diff erence too, not just their tummies. and help us get to the root of what is going on with the child. Kids’ day-to-day upsets and unexpressed feelings can lead to over-eating, but food can never truly satisfy emotional hunger. Here are Child: “Mom, can I have a snack?” some thoughts on how to get to the root of the problem. Parents’ Old Responses: “No, you just had one.” “Enough already!” “ Your clothes are already too tight.” “ Your tummy’s getting big.” Since most kids are not adept at identifying or expressing their “I said NO, stop eating!” feelings in language -only in outward behavior -they need to learn how to eff ectively express what’s wrong. Th e more parents Parents’ New Response: “I notice that you’re really hungry and learn to recognize children’s behavior as “disguised feelings” and asking for a lot of snacks lately. I think your feelings are hungry, not bring those buried feelings to awareness, the more improvement your tummy. Is something bothering you? What’s on your mind? will occur in the overeating behavior. Your kids may already be Child: “Th at’s crazy! Nothing is bothering me, I’m just HUNGRY!” giving you clues about what upsets them, most of which have Parent: “I know it’s hard to tell the diff erence between a hungry nothing to do with food at all. tummy and hungry feelings, but we’re going to start a new routine in You can help your child recognize this Food-Mood Connection our family. So, is there something you really need? Maybe more hugs, by teaching them the diff erence between physical and emotional or spending more time together? Did your feelings get hurt today? hunger. We teach our children to walk, talk and read. If in addition Did a teacher or a friend say something that upset you?” to those skills we also show them how to recognize and fully Child: “No, nothing’s wrong, nothing happened! I want a snack express their underlying feelings, they won’t need to medicate now… I’m starving!” their emotional needs with food. If you notice your child is overweight or overeats frequently, here are fi ve areas to consider in a Food-Mood Makeover. Parent: “Okay, in a little while. But let’s try something new fi rst.” At this point, give your child some choices as to what might be wrong, or what they might be feeling. Most emotional upsets result from a series of events. 22 GoodLiving Spring Edition 2013

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