Coloring on Counter
There is a childrens song that goes "I'm a happy helper, show me what to do...I'm a happy helper, I like helping you!"

Your kids want nothing more than your attention
, positive or negative it really does not matter to them.  If you've ever tried to cook dinner while one child was screaming, and the other clung to your leg this is why they are behaving this way.  As they see it, their job is to get you to stop doing what you are doing and pay attention to them. 

The good news is there is a way to make everyone happy!  Pull up a stool, chair, whatever and let them be involved in the process.  Let them stir, peel, smell, taste, watch.  Let them set the table, figure out how many forks, spoons, napkins they need to put out.  Let them plate the food. 

If you are wondering about the photo, sometimes my 2 year old is not interested in helping right away.  To keep her included, I let her color on the counter (I'm right next to her chopping veggies, just in case you were concerned :) ). It only lasts for a few minutes then she is sampling the food and helping to stir! 

It's important for so many reasons to include your children in the cooking process.  The first is that children are more apt to eat healthier options if they feel like they are part of the meal.  The second, is it makes them feel special because you are including them in a "grown-up" activity.  The third, is you will all feel closer to each other as a family.  Families that cook and eat together, stay together. 

Try it tonight!

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Healthy Food for Kids
I get this all the time from parents, “Well, I WOULD feed my children more fruits and vegetables…but they won’t eat them.  To be honest, I cringe a little every time I hear that.

It’s not up to the kids.  It’s up to you.  What you decide to feed them now will shape what they will want to eat the rest of their lives. If you teach them the importance of healthy foods now they will automatically eat healthier when they go off on their own, and they will live a much healthier life. 

The statistics are grim.  If your child was born after the year 2000 they have a one in three chance of becoming diabetic, if you are a minority it’s 1 in 2.  Aside from that, kids will also live much shorter lives than we will.  This is mostly due to diet and lack of exercise.  Two things that you as a parent have complete control over.  I know you don’t want to be responsible for their poor health later, so you need to start paying attention today.

Ideally it should start young.  When they are first learning to eat.  It should be all vegetables and fruits with fish and lean meats, that you prepare! None of that jarred stuff.  The jarred stuff is processed with preservatives and it tastes nothing like what the actual veggie or fruit tastes like.  It’s so much easier than you think.

Hopefully they get slightly more vegetables than fruits.  When my girls started on solids I gave them only vegetables for the first 2 months then slowly gave them fruits.  Now at ages 1 and 3, they always eat their vegetables first.  Other parents gasp when they see that, “How did you get them to do that?”  They ask amazed.  The answer is easy, “They eat what you give them.”

If you didn’t start young there is still hope!  It’s a more gradual transition.  First they have to see you eating it and enjoying it.  Even if it’s not your favorite thing they have to see that you like it. But don’t over do it.  Like “MMMM this is soooo good!  Johnny you have to try it, YUM!”  Kid’s will see right through that. 

Start with one new food every week and make it a game.  Have them help you choose at the grocery store, then let them help you prepare it.  They will be more likely to try it if they helped make it.  If they flat out refuse to try it at dinner, do not make them something else.  If after 3 bites or so,  If they honestly don’t like it, then don’t force it, but do not make them something else.  Keep in mind it can take up to 12 times of introducing a new food before they decide they like it.

If they are not eating it to assert their independence let them know this is what is for dinner, breakfast, etc and you are not going to make them something else.  Also let them know there will not be any snacks after dinner.  And stick to it!  Don’t worry; you are not going to starve them.  The lesson here is so huge.  I can speak from experience with my 3 year old.  Every 4 months or so she will test us and will refuse to eat anything at dinner.  I can tell you she eats a very good breakfast.

I make sure my family gets 7 to 13 servings of healthy fruits and vegetables everyday so that we protect our health, avoid illness, and enjoy happy healthy lives.  You can too!

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