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How to help your child make friends at school
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 00:00

My child has no friends at school.

It’s a heartbreaker. Your child comes home from school one day and says he doesn’t have any friends and that nobody likes him - the dreaded words no parent wants to hear. You’ve been there; you know how cruel it can be on the playground and how quickly friendships seem to come and go throughout life. You want to wrap up your little guy and protect him from the world and most of all, you want to ensure that he has plenty of friends.

As much as you’d like to step in, you simply can’t make friends for him. You can, however, give him the tools he needs to be social and to be a good friend. Every child is born with an innate need to attach or be in a relationship, but how he goes about forming those relationships depends largely on his temperament. Children can start to develop real friendships around the age of four or five. When everything goes smoothly, it can be exhilarating and great. But when you see your child hitting some bumps in the road to having his own “B.F.F.,” you can help.

According to Denise Salin, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Parent Educator, you don’t want to push. “Some children, especially younger elementary school age ones, need help developing social skills such as empathy, problem-solving, negotiating, cooperation and communication skills” before they are comfortable making friends. “If an elementary aged child does not seem to want to make friends, it’s important to try and get an understanding of what may be going on.”

To support the development of friendships in your child’s life, try some of these techniques:

Offer a variety of opportunities for play and socialising. Host friends over for play dates or lunch. See if you can participate in a carpool and sign-up your child for group activities such as art, drama or dance. Exposing him to different areas of play will help him learn to socialise. “Giving children lots of unstructured time to play is important because they learn the social skills they need so they can keep playing and have fun,” says Salin. Additionally, you can include your child when talking to people out of his normal range of peers. Take him to visit a neighbour, or bring him along to the dry cleaner. The more he is exposed to interacting with all kinds of people, the more he will learn to do the same.

What does a healthy lunchbox look like?
Friday, 20 January 2017 00:00

The Healthy Lunchboxes

It takes planning

Are you a Mum who has to pack lunchboxes and make snacks for your children every day of the week? And are you at your wits' end trying to strike a balance between healthy food options and your child's picky eating habits?

Here are some ideas to make your life easier and to ensure that your children have good, wholesome food to take to school and to have in-between meals.

The basics

There are certain basic principles that you need to keep in mind:
• It takes planning - you need to plan ahead so that you buy the correct foods for making snacks and lunchboxes
• Resist the "easy" option to buy cold drinks, chips and chocolate bars - in the long run this is going to ruin your children's health
• Resist your children's demands and manipulations for high-fat snacks and fizzy cold drinks
• Remember that children are different to adults - they have a much smaller stomach capacity, so they need regular snacks and some children have a much higher energy requirement because they're more active than adults
• Remember that children are similar to adults - they also like interesting and tasty food that looks good enough to eat, but they may not appreciate very sophisticated foods
• Lunchboxes may have to replace three to four meals a day - that breakfast that wasn't eaten, the mid-morning snack, lunch and the mid-afternoon snack - a whole menu in one box!
• Packaging is important - buy a sturdy plastic container that's big enough to accommodate the food you want your child to take to school without getting squashed, and consider buying a small non-breakable vacuum flask or vacutainer for keeping cold foods and drinks cold, and hot foods and drinks hot
• Eating a variety of foods gives children and adults the best chance of obtaining a balanced diet

Select foods from all the food groups every day:
- Milk and dairy products;
- Fruit and vegetables;
- Breads and starches;
- Protein foods like meat, fish, eggs and legumes; and
- Fats and oils, including nuts.
Children need healthy foods and drinks to snack on or to take to school. Here are some suggestions:

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