Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mom, My Toddler Drinks Too Much Juice! What Should I Do?

I think that a lot of parents realize that too much juice is a bad thing. So if you catch yourself saying wondering how to reduce the amount of juice your toddler drinks, I’ve got an idea that works really well in my household, and I’m happy to share it with you.

Why Should I be Worried That My Toddler Drinks Too Much Juice? 


If you’re not already convinced that drinking too much juice is a bad thing, you need to stop and simply think about how much fruit is required in order to make a glass of juice. It actually takes about 4 oranges to get this amount of juice. Fruit is great, but cramming such a hefty amount of it into your stomach all at once is not such a good idea.

Not only is your child consuming far too much fruit at one time, but when you drink juice (rather than eat fruit), the sugar passes to the intestines and is absorbed into the bloodstream much faster than if you just sat down and ate some fruit.

The sugar in fruit juice is called fructose, and just because it comes from a fruit doesn’t make it “healthy”. Sugar causes the body to release a massive surge of insulin, and the insulin works to remove sugar from the bloodstream. The sugar goes away, the insulin lingers, and you’re left with a not-so good feeling in your body. Ever wonder if this contributes to toddler behavior problems?

Simply put, I sincerely believe that fruit juice consumption should be limited to a half glass per day in kids. If they want more, give them actual fruit. Cut up apples, pears, or other fruit and have them snack on that along with fresh vegetables such as celery, carrots, etc.

A Great Fruit Juice Replacement


It’s called … WATER. Yes I’m serious, but I think there’s a great way to “spruce it up” so that it is more interesting for your child. You can show them this “treat” and make it exciting for them so they ask for it.

Here’s what you do. Take about a teaspoonful of lemon juice from concentrate. That’s about a cap full if you buy it by the bottle. Mix the lemon juice with a splash of fruit juice such as OJ or Apple Juice. I mean just a splash for flavor. Then, add a couple of ice cubes and top up the cup with fresh cold water.

Regular water is great – and you should encourage your kids to drink plenty of it. But for something special, this easy recipe adds some natural flavor to the water while severely limiting the amount of sugar in the drink.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mom, Communication Problems Often Masked as Child Behavior Problems

It’s so easy to label something that your child does as “bad behavior”, isn’t it? Sometimes it isn’t what your child does, it’s what they don’t do. You tell your toddler to go do something, he or she refuses and you get mad. You raise your voice, your child cries, and you’re all having wonderful fun, right?

Let me share a little secret with you.
Parents almost always forget to ask questions, therefore missing an opportunity to gather important information. Asking a few simple questions to your toddler or young child will often solve problems.

Here’s an example from my own life. My youngest daughter was just shy of her third birthday. We had finished “quiet time” in Mommy and Daddy’s room, watching some cartoon shows together before bed. The kids knew the routine well. 7pm rolls around and it’s bedtime. First we brush teeth, and then we go snuggle together and read books.

When I said, “OK – time to go brush your teeth”, my daughter looked at me and said, “No, I don’t want to brush my teeth”. I began to explain to her that we’d snuggle and read books only after she brushed, but I could see she was already starting to tear up. Something was not normal about this.

I think that in most child/parent scenarios, this would have turned into a tantrum, and nobody would have been happy. But I knew the power of asking questions. So I asked a very simple question. “Sweetie, what is it that you don’t like about brushing your teeth?”

You know what she said to me? I would never have expected this reply. She said, “I don’t like the toothpaste”. She said it with a hint of fear, as if brushing her teeth was an act that forced her to taste something awful. Immediately I remembered that we had just bought the kids a new tube of toothpaste. It was different than what we normally used. Obviously, she didn’t approve – but she hadn’t said anything before this moment.

I put my arm around her and said, “Oh – I understand … you are telling me that you don’t like the toothpaste. That’s ok. We don’t have to use that toothpaste. We can just brush with water tonight. No toothpaste. We can go to the store together and get you a new toothpaste that you’ll like”.

If you are thinking that I’m just a big softie, think again. There is no reason that I feel compelled to force my kid to brush with toothpaste that she hates. If I hated my own toothpaste, I’d throw it away and buy a new brand. Why treat her with any less respect? This isn’t prison.

In the end, she was completely happy to brush her teeth, just not with that particular brand of paste. I got her to bed with no fights, no crying, and plenty of hugs.

The most powerful lessons in life are often very simple. In this case, the lesson is to ask good questions. If your toddler doesn’t want to eat something, ask what it is about it they don’t like. If your child won’t wear a particular piece of clothing that you’re trying to dress him in, ask what he doesn’t like about it. You might just be surprised to find out that the food gets stuck in his teeth, or the shirt has a tag that itches the back of his neck. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.