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Why family meals are so important
Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

The importance of family  meals

Why Family Meals Are So Important

"What did you do in school today?" "Who did you play with at recess?" "Did you see that article in the newspaper?" Eating together as a family is one of those things that doesn't seem like such a big deal. But it can make a big difference for your kids in terms of self-image, sense of security, self-esteem and overall sense of happiness. "Regular family meals are probably the best psychological 'daily vitamin' parents can give their children," says Carleton Kendrick, a family therapist in Millis, Mass., and author of "Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey, We're Going to Grandma's." "They're far more powerful in the long and short term than you might think they are."

That's because family meals make kids feel good, especially when you focus on keeping the conversation positive. "Dinner can be a wonderful time to hear about everyone's day or anything else your kids want to talk about that you don't usually take the time to discuss," says Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D., founder of the Better Parenting Institute in Melbourne, Fla. It also gives kids the chance to be themselves and share their opinions within the safe confines of home, without risking the rejection of their peers. And even toddlers can begin to feel like a valued contributing member of their family when they scoot their chair up to the dinner table and start to chime in. While the peas are being passed, the open forum gives your kids the opportunity to learn about your family's history and your past.

It's no wonder that family meals are associated with lower teenage pregnancy rates, higher grade point averages, fewer eating disorders in teens and lower risk of depression. Moreover, the psychological benefits go both ways. A recent telephone survey of 2,008 Americans sponsored by Barilla found that adults who eat with their kids regularly with few distractions (no TV or phone) report higher overall life satisfaction. "Family meals pay off for adults and children," says William J. Doherty, Ph.D., professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, who helped Barilla analyze the survey results. It's a ritual none of us really ever outgrow. The key is to start the meal tradition when your kids are young, then keep it up. "When you get your kids into the habit of family dinners, they'll keep doing it when they get older and become more independent," Doherty says. In other words, when they morph into eye-rolling teenagers.

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Bucket List for Kids
Monday, 14 September 2015 00:00

What every kid should try to experience before they turn 18

Bucket List for Kids: Things to Experience in Childhood

There are so many fun things to do with your kids, here are some your child should experience before growing up.

We want to give our kids the world. Yet those wonder years only last so long – and can only contain so much.

Every day, each experience, no matter how magical or mundane, fills it up a bit more. Like sand in a beach pail.

Here are some suggestions on what you should help your child fill their "bucket" with:

1. Soak up the night sky away from the city lights.

2. Get dirty! Splashing in puddles, making mud pies and rolling around in the grass gives kids a fun, carefree feeling.

3. Correspond with a pen pal from another country. (Handwritten letters a plus.)

4. Learn yoga and meditation. Such great tools to help calm the mind and help them deal with stress!

5. Get exposure to all sorts of music. The Beatles, Neil Young, Elton John, Prince, Chaka Khan, Baby Mozart and Bach. It is a great way to connect to people.

6. Drink rain.

7. Go to overnight camp when they are old enough. They’ll meet kids from other areas, make friendships that could last a lifetime – and taste life away from home.

8. Care for a pet – especially feeding it. It teaches kids how to be in charge, responsible, caring, considerate, creates respect and loyalty, and helps them focus.

9. Learn to swim (without water wings).

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