Monday, February 22, 2010

Raising Olympic Stars – the Elite Child Athlete

Do you have a future Olympic star living in your household? Of course we are all proud of our children when they work hard and compete in sports, however sometimes there is a child that really does have the potential to be an Olympic star. How can you tell if your child has that potential?

Success in highly competitive sports seems to depend on several key factors: Preexisting talent, a strong internal drive within the aspiring athlete, and a caring and sound social support system.

Musical abilities can also help an athlete in most sports to think better and have a sense of rhythm. For instance skating, or downhill skiing require rhythm.

The IOC (International Olympic Commission) Medical Commission has adopted guidelines on training the Elite Child Athlete.

Focus on learning and skills
Accentuate the fun aspects of competitive sports
Learn to deal with the pressure to be perfect
Have an effective and safe training program
Work on psychological skills –
Emotional control
Have a balanced lifestyle
Adequate sleep
Academic development
Opportunities for socialization

In my research I found that most experts in the field of youth sports reported that winning was a relatively poor motivator for most young people involved in sports. The path to excellent performance lies in motivating them to embrace self-improvement.

When they were asked, winning never ranked high as a reason for most young athletes to participate in competitive sports. Other rewards, from improving skills to gaining recognition to getting exercise, ranked higher. The number one reason seemed to be “to improve my skills.”

Another interesting fact I learned (I saw this as a repeating theme in many studies and books) is that the most successful elite child athletes do not have parents who coach them. The parents step back and let the coach take over the sports part of their life and the parents work on the other parts. This theme is repeated over and over by both sports and child behavior experts.

I guess even though we hear about all the parents who are directly involved in their child’s training, they must be the exception and not the rule.

The bottom line is that entire sports process, especially for the elite child athlete should be pleasurable and fulfilling. Participating in competitive sports is a life experience that should prove invaluable to the young athlete as a developing, maturing person.

Do you have an aspiring Olympian in your household? Let us hear about it! Send pictures. We would love to share them with other parents.

Happy Parenting, Brenda

Monday, February 15, 2010

Nutrition for Healthy Gums and Teeth

Even though visiting the dentist has gotten more user friendly, most kids still don’t look forward to their yearly dental checkups. As essential as these health checks are, what your child eats between visits is the most important part of building healthy teeth and gums.
In addition to brushing and flossing, the vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients in a healthful diet protect teeth from decay and keep gums healthy and tight.
The Main Culprit
We all know that sucrose or sugar is the leading cause of tooth decay, but not the only cause. Did you know that in addition to sugary foods like cookies, candies, and sodas, starchy foods (like bread and cereal) also play a part in tooth decay? When starches mix with an enzyme in the saliva called amylase, the result is an acid bath that breaks down enamel and makes teeth more susceptible to decay. The longer foods linger in the mouth, the acid bath is prolonged and the damage greater. That is why your mom always told you to brush your teeth after eating!
Dried fruit and juices are also problematic. While we usually think of these as healthy foods and beverages, both their high sugar content (think stickiness) and their high acid content make them contributors to tooth decay.
Unlike dried fruit and juices, fresh fruit protects your teeth. Fresh fruit, especially apples, are a good choice. Although sweet and acidic, the increased chewing required when eating fresh fruit (and vegetables) stimulates saliva flow. Saliva flow decreases mouth acidity and washes away food particles. Now you know why apples are called “nature’s toothbrush.” They not only stimulate the gums but also increase saliva flow and reduce the build-up of cavity-causing bacteria.
Gum Disease
More teeth are lost through gum disease than decay. Poor diet, meaning a highly refined diet, alcoholism, and certain medications all contribute to poor gums. Poor hygiene and not flossing can lead to bleeding gums, but lack of Vitamin C can also be a cause. Fresh fruit and vegetables are your best source of Vitamin C.
Munching on hard fibrous foods such as carrots, celery, seeds and nuts, and whole grains all help stimulate the gums.

Healthy Snacks That Don’t Attack
Think fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains, beans and other lean protein, and healthy oils:
• Cut up veggies with hummus or avocado dip
• Cup of tea – Tea is good for your teeth because it contains fluoride. (If you are concerned about the pigments staining your teeth, you can drink it through a straw!)
• Fresh fruit with natural peanut butter
• Cabot fat reduced cheese with whole grain crackers and/or fresh fruit
• Plain yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts.
• Whole grain pretzels dipped in mustard
• Turkey slices wrapped around asparagus or roasted red pepper and avocado slices
• Hormone free turkey or buffalo jerky.

Remember you can also protect your teeth by ending meals with foods that do not promote cavities or may even protect them. Aged cheeses help prevent cavities if consumed at the end of a meal. Chewing sugar free gum stimulates the flow of saliva which decreases acid and flushes out food particles. Rinsing your mouth and brushing your teeth after eating are also good strategies to prevent cavities.
A bright smile is usually a good indication of a healthy diet.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentine's Day Crafts

St. Valentine’s Day is a day to give and get Valentines but more importantly it is a day to show the ones around you how much you care about them. This Valentine’s Day involve the kids by having them create and decorate crafts that they can give to those they care about.

Due to the snow and continued news coverage about the snow the segment on WUSA9 News Now with Peggy Fox demonstrating crafts for Valentine’s Day was unable to air however here are those great family friendly crafts.

Why should we have our children make their gifts instead of buy them? I know it keeps them entertained, but does it do anything for them? YOU BET! Kids love it and it really helps them develop.

Helping benefits kids in many ways –
They reflect on how they feel about others
They learn the best gifts aren’t bought

Here are the crafts that Liz demonstrated along with materials and detailed instructions.

Warm Fuzzy Box

What you'll need:
* 1 empty box, any size
* Valentine themed wrapping paper or pink, red or purple construction paper
* Pink construction paper
* White craft glue
* Scissors
* Things to decorate with: Ribbons, Stickers, Glitter, Magazine Clippings, Sequins

How to make it:
1. Wrap the empty box in wrapping paper or construction paper.
2. Tie white ribbon around the box and tie into a bow on the top.
3. Decorate box
4. Fill with little gifts or notes about how special that person is to you.

Tissue Paper Note Cards

What you'll need:
* Various shades of tissue paper (preferably reds, pinks, and purples)
* White paper
* Vinegar
* Paintbrush

How to make it:
1. Have your child begin by cutting or tearing the tissue paper into small squares.
2. Invite her to paint vinegar over the entire sheet of white paper.
3. While the paper is still wet, place the different colored squares onto the white paper.
4. Allow this to dry. When the paper is dry, the tissue paper will fall off, showing your little one how the tissue paper bled onto the white paper.
5. Turn this into a holiday project by cutting the dyed paper into a heart or use this paper to make a holiday or note card.

For this craft and more like it click here:

Lollipop Flowers

What you’ll need
* Red and green construction paper or card stock
* Scissors
* Lollipop
* Glue stick

How to make it:
1. From red construction paper, cut out a heart that's just larger than the lollipop candy and glue it to the wrapper.
2. For the leaves, fold the green paper in half and cut out a leaf shape, leaving the two sides attached at the seam.
3. Unfold the double leaf shape, coat the entire inside surface with glue, and fold it back over the lollipop stem, pressing to secure.

For this craft and more like it click here:

Do you have any crafts you like to do for Valentine’s Day? Do you let your children help with this?

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Monday, February 1, 2010

National Children’s Dental Health Month

The month of February is filled with chocolate and candy as people around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day. This sweet holiday also brings toothaches and cavities. Ironically, February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and a chance for parents to help their kids brush up on good oral hygiene.

Today during the Monday morning WUSA9 DC Moms Like Me segment, Jessica Doyle shared some ideas for helping your family develop and maintain proper dental hygiene.

February is the perfect time for parents to help their kids brush up on good oral hygiene.

In 1941 Children’s Dental Health Month started as a weeklong event in Akron, Ohio. It is now a nationwide program.

And, something very important for parents to sit up and take note is that a recent survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that children between the ages of 2 and 5 are more likely to have tooth decay now than in the past. Good care of a child’s teeth from primary teeth to adult teeth is very important.

It is important to note that poor oral hygiene is linked serious common diseases. Teeth are the only non-shedding surface in the body, which suggests that the teeth have the highest bacterial levels in the entire body.

A recent clinical study shows a direct link between poor oral hygiene and serious common diseases such as cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, and osteoporosis.


Why are baby teeth important? Don’t children just loose them?

Baby Teeth are important because:
---They help children chew food
---They help children speak and develop speech correctly
---They guide permanent teeth into place
Starting to teach good oral health care when children are very young is also good because it becomes a life long habit for them.

--Tips for Healthy Teeth –

Brush and floss everyday.
Yes, Children should brush at least twice a day to remove the plaque that can lead to cavities. Flossing daily removes food debris that a toothbrush cannot reach. Even children as young as 3 or 4 months should begin having their teeth brushed regularly.

Visit the dentist regularly.
You and your children should visit the dentist every six months for regular check ups and cleanings. Fluoride treatments twice a year will help prevent tooth decay.

Wear a mouth guard while playing sports.
Mouth guards greatly reduce the chance of injury to the mouth and teeth. Athletes are 60% more likely to have an injury of the mouth if they are not wearing a mouth guard. 80% of injuries involve the front teeth and soft tissues such as the tongue.

Choose snacks wisely and eat nutritiously.
Sugars from sweet drinks or food can quickly hurt young teeth if not removed. And, certainly letting a baby nurse on a bottle overnight is definitely not a good idea as overnight the milk or juice will quickly rot those baby teeth.

Replace your toothbrush regularly.
You should replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months or after a cold or illness to prevent re-infection. You should use a soft toothbrush so you won’t wear off the enamel of your teeth.

LET YOUR CHILD BRUSH WHILE YOU BRUSH. They love to mimic their parents. Then at the end you can make sure they did a good job. Make it fun. If a child can brush their teeth as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, that is long enough.

These tips might seem easy to parents but as moms know getting children interested in dental health can be challenging.

Here are some cute ideas from Amanda Ayers with the Marine Corp. Healthy Kids Fun Run to make oral health care more fun and exciting for children:

-----Use the old toothbrush for a craft idea.
Try letting children use their old toothbrush to paint pictures instead of a paintbrush. Draw a picture of teeth and use white paint and an old toothbrush to “clean” the teeth.

----Apples are nature’s toothbrush.
Try Apple Smiles snacks to teach children the importance of eating nutritiously. Cut apples into wedges to use as lips. Smear peanut butter, which makes for great edible “glue”, on one side of the two wedges. Stick marshmallows, or the “teeth”, on the peanut butter on one of the apple wedges and top with the other apple wedge peanut butter side down for a delicious, healthy smile!

When should you start thinking about braces for your child?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic screening no later than age 7. An orthodontist can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present.

If parents need more help, we have several articles and a list of pediatric dentists on our web site

Happy Parenting,