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Breakfast Hugs at Tiffany's

Javier Solomon enjoys his scrambled eggs.

Convincing toddlers and infants to sit and eat can sometimes be quite challenging, especially if they are picky. At a recent breakfast session hosted at Miss Tiffany's Preschool, child development experts offered practical tips for parents to win mealtime battles.

That session was one of many being offered by the National Parenting Programme (NPP) and Early Childhood Services (ECS) as part of their Healthy Breakfast Mornings Programme. A back-to-school initiative, it is designed to help parents and caregivers teach their children healthy eating habits.

"This is our second year offering the programme, and we hope to highlight the important role parents play in shaping their children's nutritional habits and overall health," National Parenting Programme Coordinator Selena Dyke commented.

Proper nutrition, healthy activities and play were all on the agenda as five presenters engaged an audience of some 90 parents and their tots.

Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital Dietician Brandi Propas encouraged parents to eat as a family. "It's the best way to set a healthy eating example for your children," she said.

She also advised against force feeding, explaining that children, unlike many adults, generally stop eating when they are full. "We tend to encourage children to empty their plates, but that behaviour desensitizes us, prompting continued eating even after we're full.

"So if your child is distracted or isn't hungry, avoid forcing the issue. Try introducing some other constructive activity. This may be difficult initially, but when a child is hungry, he or she will come back to you [the parent] for food."

Another key topic Ms Propas discussed was the use of food as a reward or punishment. Discouraging the practice, she said that it created incorrect associations and could eventually lead to poor nutrition and or eating disorders.

Head of Early Childhood Services Kate Marnoch focused on the importance of play. She stressed that pretend play particularly impacts the development of reading abilities and encouraged parents to participate in pretend play sessions with their children, while allowing the youngsters to direct the activities.

Other presenters were NPP's Candace Ocho, who gave tips on preparing quick, healthy and easy meals; ECS's Deanna Peterson who offered tips on snack making; and Exercise Psychologist Deanna Smith who presented on healthy activities.

Schools interested in hosting Healthy Breakfast Mornings may contact Ms Selena Dyke at 947-8332 or Selena.dyke@gov.ky .

Sidebar: Family Mealtimes are Important

Eating dinner with your children keeps the communication doors open. It's the perfect time and place to reconnect and to show them that they are your priority.

Sitting across the table is where you can find out more about your children's likes, dislikes, and daily life. Having this information can help you direct your children toward positive activities and behavior, reducing the likelihood of their involvement with alcohol, tobacco, and/or illegal drugs.

Studies have found that:

  • compared to teens that share frequent family dinners, those who don't are 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs or an illegal drug other than marijuana; and
  • girls who have five or more meals per week with their families are 1/3 less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits, which can range from skipping meals to full-fledged anorexia or abusing diet pills.

By eating with your children, it is also more likely that meals will be healthier and more balanced.

Source: National Parenting Programme

For further information contact: Kenisha Morgan