Monday, December 26, 2011

Bring in the New

This is posted with the kind permission of Viva Magazine.  
The article appears in my column in the January, 2012 issue.

There is something revitalizing about a New Year.  It implies freshness, new energy and being up-to-date in the face of the wilted, fatigued and dated previous year.  The New Year is a great time to check out ways to re-energize your family.  Here are a few suggestions to recharge in 2012:

Schedule time together.  Even with great intentions to spend time together as a family, unless planned – actually written on a schedule – those precious moments together may not happen.  Everyone gets caught up in their own busy lives and other things take precedence.  So gather your family together and ask everyone for a list of their favorite things to do.  Then plan a year of weekly or monthly activities that include everyone’s suggestions.  It could be ice skating or roller skating, reading,  swimming, riding bikes or having a picnic.  It could be as simple as a walk around the block after dinner.  You will cherish the memories you create from these times together.         

Have an electronics-free weekend.  Schedule one weekend or one day per month free of electronic devices.  Discuss ahead of time what you plan to do instead of watching television, playing video games or listening to music on headphones.  If you hear “Mom, I’m bored!” ask your child “What are you going to do so that you are no longer bored?”  His boredom is his responsibility and the time for him to be creative.  Coordinate your electronics-free weekend with your scheduled family time activities.  Invite friends over to play board games or softball.  Cook together.  At the end of the weekend, talk about how you feel.  Are you more rested, more connected and more relaxed?

Let your children do more around the house.  With each New Year, increase the number of opportunities for your child to be helpful around the house.  Talk about what he would like to do and what you would like him to do.  Show gratitude for his contributions.  Maintaining the balance between a child’s power and his responsibility is what eliminates resentments and prevents entitlement issues.

I wish all the best for you and your family in 2012.  May you feel re-energized!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Helping Children Through the Holidays After the Divorce

What I love most about Rosalind Sedacca's articles is her clear intention to assist parents in providing a deep experience of love for their children.  Thanks for another terrific post, Rosalind!

by Rosalind Sedacca

When Mom and Dad divorce their children are faced with many life changes. As loving and concerned parents we try to minimize the pain and reduce the chaos brought about by new routines and schedules. We also try to focus on making this new chapter in life as positive and supportive as possible for everyone in the family.

One of the toughest transitions for children is often coping with the first holiday season. Our challenge as parents is to create new traditions and activities that can replace the memories of family holidays in the past. Here are some suggestions on how to help your children through the holiday season in the best possible spirits.

Show compassion:
Talk to your children about the holidays. Listen, rather than lecture, and let them vent about their feelings, regrets and frustrations.  Acknowledge what they are expressing to you and be understanding. Be aware that some children will hold their feelings in so as not to protect you. Reassure them that it’s okay to talk about their sadness as well as apprehension about what they will experience this year.
Remind your children that what they are feeling is natural and normal. Be there for them with reassurance and hugs. Also let them know that some activities will still be part of their holiday celebrations so they understand that much of life continues in the same way, despite divorce.

Model Responsible Behavior With Your Ex:
Studies show that children whose divorced parents get along with one another adapt much easier to the divorce.  So talk to your ex about giving your children a happy holiday season in every possible way. If you can both spend some family time together with the children, without discord, they will appreciate your efforts.  If you can’t, at least strive to make the drop-off experience peaceful and harmonious.  Never bad-mouth your ex to the children, make them your messenger or have them spy for you at their other parent’s home. Model your best, most respectful and mature interactions with your ex in front of your children so they can enjoy their childhood, especially at this time of year.

Start Creating Wonderful New Memories:
This year will lay the foundation for many holidays to come. So think about new ways to celebrate, new places to visit, new foods to prepare. By creating a fresh set of traditions you will give your children something to look forward to. By replacing old memories with the new, you can make the holidays special again for them. And if they do the same in their other parent’s home, they can enjoy an even fuller experience of celebrating the holidays.

By acknowledging your children’s feelings with compassion while offering them new options for keeping the holidays special, you are giving your children an important gift: the love and support they need to overcome the challenges of being a child of divorce.

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children -- with Love! For Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right, plus Rosalind's free ezine and other resources for parents, visit

 © Rosalind Sedacca   All rights reserved.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Your Unique Holiday Signature

Many thanks to Viva Magazine for permission to reprint this article from my December 2011 column.

Much like the summer vacation – anticipated with visions of family fun – that somehow spirals into fighting children and exhausted parents, the holidays may not always look like what we initially envision.  The cultural pressure to create a Norman Rockwell event can be daunting. Children complain, things don’t go as planned and you enter the New Year feeling disappointed rather than energized.  You can create a terrific family holiday season that has your unique signature rather than Norman Rockwell’s.  Here are three ideas for holiday success:

Recognize your agenda.  We feel stress when things are not going according to plan even if that plan is below our level of awareness.   If you enter the holidays with a concrete agenda – especially one that includes specific responses from others – it is a setup for disappointment.  Stay present.  Notice stress and find ways to relax.  Awareness of your agenda is the first step.  If you have Rockwell visions and a Chagall reality, that is OK!  It is what we tell ourselves about that distance between Rockwell and Chagall that influences our enjoyment.

Involve your children as much as possible in planning and preparing.  When children feel valuable and powerful – such as when they wrap gifts, plan a meal, serve appetizers at your holiday party, provide suggestions for gifts, are asked their opinion, and save their money to buy gifts for family and friends – they act out less.  If your child is interested in photography, ask her to be the official family holiday photographer.  If your child enjoys writing, ask him to document your holiday or to write your holiday letter. 

Set boundaries for situations that have high conflict possibilities.  You know the triggers for you and your family.  Avoid the big ones, if possible.  Have a plan for the others.  It is much easier to handle a tough situation if you have decided how to address it ahead of time.  Think of specific words to use – words that create peace – and the boundary that you will set.  If a visiting relative has a child who is demanding, have a loving yet firm response in mind before they arrive.  If your child doesn’t enjoy hugging people yet is pressured to do so by grandparents or others, be prepared to set a boundary that respects your child’s wishes, such as, “Jake prefers not to hug, and we respect his decision.” 

Have a happy holiday that is a beautiful and unique reflection of your family!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Finest Holiday Gift for Your Family

The holidays have begun, and the next few posts will have suggestions on creating peaceful celebrations while reducing the stress. Parkland Life magazine has kindly permitted this re-print of my December 2011 columnEnjoy!

In looking back over the December columns from the last few years, we’ve talked about Peaceful Holidays, Focus on Giving, The Present of Presence, Traditions, Holiday Gimmes, and Enjoying More in an Age of Less.  All articles share a common thread – what you can do to increase the unity that this time of year symbolizes while you reduce the annoying, stressful things – demands from your children who pressure you to new heights of consumerism, gift-giving that puts your bank account into the red, fighting that disrupts time together, and feeling over-whelmed with making the holidays “ideal”.  Holidays are rich in meaning and you want your family’s holiday experience to be enriching.  Here are four key suggestions from past December columns to remind you of the finest gift you can give your family – the enriching, soothing, unifying time that you spend together.  That is what you and your children will remember.

Practice Family Traditions.  Your family traditions can include annual activities like neighborhood caroling, seeing a performance of the Nutcracker, ice skating or preparing holiday treats for friends. One mom created a unique Advent Calendar for the month of December.  Behind each day was a theme or activity, such as “Today I will Help Carry Something for Someone Else” or “Today We Will Play Games Together with No TV.”   Each evening the family would discuss what they did that day.  The children shifted from rolling their eyes on the first few days to being totally engaged as the month continued. (December, 2002)

Create Opportunities to Serve.  Your family can share the joy of giving by scheduling time during the holidays to volunteer at a nursing home, hospital, or animal shelter.  Sing to the elderly or to children confined in the hospital.  Bake cookies to give.  Planting seeds or cuttings in small pots can make lovely gifts, and if cultivated far enough in advance, you can have herbs or flowering plants to give.   Make wreathes, ornaments, or assemble baskets of toiletries.  Take a huge box of dog biscuits to the animal shelter. (December, 2005)

Give the present of presence to you and your children.  Slow down.  Practice mindfulness by tuning into your senses.  Notice how the air feels on your skin right now.  When you give a hug, place your hand on your child’s back and feel her heart beating.  Feel the warmth of her touch and softness of her skin.  Breathe deeply.  Let your belly expand.  Take the time for 10 deep breaths.  Make connecting with your child your highest intention at least twice a day.  Provide focused attention for your child.  Say, “tell me more” then listen to her response.  Her response is the gift for you. (December, 2007)

Create a Giving List.  For a young child, around age seven or eight, his giving list can include gifts for mom, dad, siblings and even pets.  As your child gets older, his list can grow annually to include grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, teachers and friends.  In making gift choices, emphasize that it is not the cost or size of the gift but the expression of your child’s love that matters most.  Spend time talking about what the recipient enjoys so that the gift can be thoughtful and appropriate.  Include gifts that he can make.  A drawing, beaded necklace, poem, woven potholder, or photograph taken by your child will be treasured.  Cards which say “This Entitles You to One Back Rub” or “I Will Clean the Dinner Table” make terrific gifts that cost nothing.  (December, 2009)
Happy holidays and enjoy creating those memories!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Make-Ups Make a Difference

Parents and teachers participating in our courses and workshops sometimes get a little rattled when we suggest that they not request that their child or student say “I’m sorry.”  This bumps up against what almost all of us were taught as children, which is to apologize if someone is upset with us or we have done something “wrong.”  There are three main reasons that we recommend avoiding apologies:

1.   Typically, an apology simply wipes the slate clean.  There is no deepening of understanding, no true resolution to the issue and no change in behavior.  An apology let’s someone off the hook without making amends. 

2.   When a child simply repeats the words “I’m sorry,” because his parents requested that he do so, he generally doesn’t feel sorry.  Requesting that a child say the words when there are no authentic feelings behind them puts him out of integrity with himself.

3.  Instead of apologizing, doing a make-up makes such a big difference in relationships.  

Make-ups are a way to make amends.  If a relationship is disrupted, someone can restore balance through a make-up.  If a young child hits a friend, an adult can discuss options other than hitting, what the child wanted and how the other child might have felt.  The adult can suggest several make-up ideas if the child has not done them before.  The make-up, though, is the child’s decision, not the adult’s.  The child might decide to ask his friend if he can give him a hug or he can share a favorite toy. 

If an older child breaks a lamp, he can decide to have a certain amount of money withdrawn from his allowance each week until he pays for a new one.  If a teen forgets to tell mom that she has a meeting after school and moms needlessly waits in the pick-up line, the teen can do a make-up for inconveniencing mom, such as doing the laundry, babysitting a younger sibling or washing the car.  

One of the most powerful things a parent can do is to model make-ups.  Through watching us – and we may not even be aware that they are – children learn what a difference they can make with make-ups.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nature AND Nurture

With the passing of Steve Jobs, the conversation about nature versus nurture has been running through the media and blogosphere.  Facebook was peppered with the status “Born out of wedlock, put up for adoption at birth, dropped out of college, then changed the world.  What’s your excuse?”  MomsMiami blogger Momma Sass questioned in her informative post Steve Jobs: Born that Way?Did Steve Jobs get his personality, intelligence, creativity, ambitiousness, egomania and risk-taking from his birth parents, whom he never knew growing up?  It’s entirely possible.”

The Facebook status means to say that Steve Jobs accommplished so much having faced such big things so early;  however, the phrases used feel so outdated and almost mythical.  Doesn’t being “born out of wedlock” sound archaic, like the word ‘bastard’ should be thrown into the mix somewhere?  The phrase “put up for adoption at birth” implies abandonment (and abandonment  when one is most vulnerable at birth).  Steve Jobs’ biological mother did not abandon him.  He was so clearly loved.  Both phrases also sound as if they are handicaps.  Not everyone experiences adoption, AND adoption is not a handicap.  Both phrases label a child for the decisions and actions of adults.  They then place life limitations on a child that are just not true.  I am sure Steve Jobs could have written an app for these misconceptions.  Actually, his life kind of did.   

Everyone who was adopted has two sets parents who contribute to their life.  The concept to wrap our heads around is that this is both OK and normal.  With that said, isn’t it time to view this as nature AND nurture?  The two are not in competition against one another.  They are in cooperation with one another.

Louann Brizendine, in her review of David Shenk’s new book The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve been Told about Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong, says, “Shenk beautifully explains why the nature-nurture debate is dead. It is not just the genes we are born with, but how we are raised and what opportunities are open to us that determine how smart we will become. Nurture and experience reshape our genes, and thus our brain. Shenk argues that the idea we are either born with genius or talent, or we aren’t, is simply untrue. The notion that relentless, deliberate practice changes the brain and thus our abilities has been undervalued over the past 30 years in favor of the concept of “innate giftedness.” Practice, practice, practice (some say 10,000 hours or more) is what it takes. Shenk argues that it is just some fantasy that effortless, gifted genius is born and not made. He marshals evidence to show that genetic factors do not trump environmental factors but rather work in concert with them. [Success is] not just in your genes, he says, but in the intensity of your motivation. Ambition, persistence, and self-discipline are not just products of genes, but can be shaped by nurture and environment. Certainly it is important to have good genes, but that determines at most only 50 percent of your talent. He underscores the point that intelligence is made up of the skills that a person has developed – with an emphasis on “developed” – through hard work. Encouraging ourselves and our children to work hard requires being surrounded by others also wanting to achieve striving for excellence.”  Sounds like Steve Jobs’ parents, his friends and all of the people he surrounded himself with at Apple.

One of the most powerful statements that I’ve ever read on this issue was made by Dr. Daniel Siegel in his book Parenting from the Inside Out.  Dr. Siegel writes, “Genes determine much of how neurons link up with each other, but equally important is that experience activates genes to influence this linkage process.  It is unhelpful to pit these interdependent processes against each other in simplistic debates such as experience versus biology, or nature versus nurture.  In fact, experience shapes brain structure.  Experience is biology.  How we treat our children influences who they are and how they will develop.  Their brains need our parental involvement.  Nature needs nurture.”

Siegel continues, “Parents are the active sculptors of their children’s growing brains.  The immature brain of the child is so sensitive to social experience that adoptive parents should in fact also be called the biological parents because the family experiences they create shape the biological structure of their child’s brain.”  

Momma Sass beautifully concludes, “A child may be born with the “genetics” to be a great inventor, but if he never comes in contact with the right tools, he’ll never fulfill his gift.  In the end, maybe it took two sets of parents to make someone like Steve Jobs.” 

Two sets of parents did contribute to Steve Jobs, and he so beautifully authored his own life.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall for These Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables!

Many thanks to Joanna Dolgoff, M.D., pediatrician and child obesity specialist, for this article on encouraging children to sample the nutritious seasonal fruits and vegetables available in the fall.

The fall is my favorite time of year.  I love taking in the scenery on a fall foliage bike ride-and getting some outdoor exercise before winter rolls around.  I also  especially love the fall for it’s seasonal produce!  However, when it comes to picky eaters, their love for seasonal fruits and vegetables can oftentimes be a struggle.

This week as I was educating a picky 8-year-old patient on the benefits of fruits and veggies and we came to an agreement.  This month he would have to try at least one new vegetable, more than once.  This is perfect for fall because there are a ton of fruits and veggies in season.  Not only do these fruits and veggies taste great, they are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, such as vitamin K and carotenoids, which have been linked to protect against certain cancers.

For your guide on fruits and veggies in season I have provided you with a list.  These are some of my faves! 

Broccoli: Broccoli is a green cruciferous vegetable packed with folic acid, vitamin K, A, and C. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Add it to cold salads, whole grain pasta, serve it cold or hot with toasted sesame seeds or simply lightly sautéed in garlic and oil. 

Brussel Sprouts: A member of the cabbage family, brussel sprouts get a bad rap. In my experience many people are scared of the little guys, but if made properly, they taste phenomenal and keep you full-- brussel sprouts are packed with filling fiber! My favorite way to eat them is roasting them in the oven. Brussel sprouts are a very good source of folate and a good source of iron.

Pumpkin: In addition to making a beautiful carving, pumpkin is a nutrient powerhouse. Its high levels of beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin C may boost immune function. Pumpkin is also rich in potassium and high in fiber. Use pumpkin as a soup base, add it to chili, or simply heat it up with some cinnamon and Splenda for a sweet, savory dessert. 

A type of winter squash, pumpkin can be used for much more than jack-o'-lanterns. Its sweet taste and moist texture make it ideal for pies, cakes, and even pudding! Health benefits include:
Spinach: Probably my favorite green veggie, spinach is packed with iron, fiber and folic acid. Use spinach as a side dish, add it to soups, or eat it raw in a salad. 

Sweet potatoes: More nutritionally dense than their white-potato counterparts,
sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, and C and also contain potassium, iron and copper. Not only are they super healthy, but they’re naturally super sweet, too! For a savory dish, brush with some cayenne pepper, salt, and a sprinkle of olive oil for a healthier version of French fries.

Winter Squash: Best in October through November, winter squash is an amazing veggie. Sure, it's full of fiber, but did you know that our friend winter squash is also a  good source of vitamins A and C, several B vitamins, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids? Winter squash has a sweet flavor and is great as a side dish tossed with a few dried cranberries and paired with turkey, chicken or pork.
: Apples are full of antioxidants and some experts say it can curb your appetite and cause you to take in fewer calories throughout the rest of the day. Sweet or tart, apples are satisfying eaten raw or baked into a delicious dish. Just be sure to eat the skin—it contains hearty healthy flavonoids.
Grapefruit: Research suggests that this sweet 'n sour citrus fruit can aid in weight loss.  One small Scripps Clinic study found that eating half a grapefruit or drinking 4 ounces of juice with meals (without making any other changes in eating habits) resulted in an average weight loss of more than 3 pounds in 12 weeks.  Scientists speculate that the weight loss happens because grapefruit lowers insulin levels, which curbs your urge to snack. In addition, grapefruit contains more than 75% of your daily recommended intake (DRI) of vitamin C, is a good source of lycopene, and contains pectin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol. If grapefruit is a little too tart for you, try sprinkling a little Splenda on top. If not, try adding it to mixed greens, combine it with avocado and shrimp, or enjoy a fresh glass of its antioxidant-rich juice.               

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Age of Entitlement

This post is an expansion of an article of the same name that will appear in the October issue of Viva Magazine.  

Much has been on the parenting radar recently – in books, interviews, and articles – about a drop in children’s gratitude and an increase in their entitlement.  An August 28 article in the Deseret News was entitled “Selfishness is Rampant”.  The article says that a child’s lack of gratitude is a “symptom of a greater phenomenon that psychologists, family experts, sociologists and scholars say is gripping the world.  Now, more than ever, entitlement — the idea that "I should get everything I want when I want it, even if I haven't worked for it" — is rearing its ugly head.” 

Entitlement is not just about the “gimmies.”  It reveals a child’s beliefs about work, choices, consequences, respect for others and self, team, contribution and relationships.  It impacts the child’s happiness now and as an adult.  It is an indicator of one’s self-reliance.  “The attitude of entitlement doesn't just mean that kids and teens believe they should have everything they want when they want; it's also that they believe they're entitled not to do some things — like work.”

Karen Deerwester, author of The Entitlement-Free Child Raising Confident and Responsible Kids in a "Me, Mine, Now!" Culture, emphasizes the importance of responsibility in raising entitlement-free children.  “Entitlement children are not defined here as those with healthy self-respect and a gracious respect for others.  Entitlement behavior is negative when it is defined by Me-Mine-Now attitude and Me-Mine-Now behavior.  When entitlement becomes a relentless demand for immediate gratification, it hurts the child and the child’s ability to reach her fullest potential.” 
What can parents do to raise entitlement-free children?  It begins with examining several areas in your family. 

How does your child contribute and serve within the family? The fulfillment of serving and being part of team is learned in childhood as is cooperation.  Having chores, working together and feeling the satisfaction of assisting others is vital.  If you are doing it all for your child, you are not doing him any favors.  It is comparable to a personal trainer doing the workout for you.  He is earning money, learning about his body and getting fit while you are static.  Allow your children to do more, even if it is not perfect.  Very young children can match socks.  Teens can cook meals and do laundry.  Your children can make grocery lists, mop the floors, feed the pets and much more. 

Do you allow your child to fail and make mistakes knowing they have a “safe place to land” at home?  It is through mistakes that we learn.  Many parents fear that mistakes or failures will damage their child’s self-esteem when actually the opposite is true.  Making mistakes and subsequently learning how to do something in a different way builds self-esteem.  Self-esteem involves knowing that you are loveable AND capable.  Children learn that they are capable through making mistakes, learning from them and then going for it again.  Edison made hundreds of mistakes (also known as new inventions) on his way to the incandescent light bulb.  Examine how you handle your own mistakes and allow your child to make his, knowing that home is a “safe place to land”. 

Where does your family stand with consumerism and how do you handle the rampant marketing aimed at your children?  Young children do not have the ability to handle the advertising that is targeting them.  Parents are the filter.  How do you handle your children’s demands for things and do you distinguish between needs and wants?  Tied in with this is your child’s allowance and his responsibility with money.  “In an attempt to evaluate what impact paying for chores had on children, Kristine Manwaring did her master's thesis on the topic, interviewing 30 families, half of whom had monetary systems in place.” Manwaring said, “We found that the methods they used to teach their kids about money and work actually had unintended consequences. The families who felt strongly about paying their kids for work and trying not to (promote) entitlement had kids who would only work when they wanted to buy something.  So parents were in the awkward position of encouraging their children to buy things, which promoted materialism and a fixation on money beyond what a child at certain age levels would have."

There are other areas to consider – such as how you respond to your child’s demands for things, how you set boundaries, if you use rewards or encouragement – and these three are a terrific place to begin.  Your child’s efforts – in serving within the family and learning from his mistakes – will contribute to his happiness now and as an adult.  When you really take a look, happiness is what all parents desire for their children. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's Cool to BYOL (Bring Your Own Lunch) to School

Many thanks to Joanna Dolgoff, M.D., pediatrician and child obesity specialist, for this article on packing healthy lunches for your child to take to school.  An additional suggestion is to use a bento box for packing a variety of foods in an engaging way.

School lunches generally receive poor grades when it comes to their nutrition content and are typically short on fresh fruits and vegetables, and heavy on processed, breaded, and fried entrees. Take, for example,  the study of sixth graders recently published in the American Heart Journal that found that students were 29% more likely to be obese if they ate school lunches.

Most parents appreciate the importance of good nutrition and aim to provide healthy food choices for their children. After all, good nutrition helps provide them with the energy required to function effectively in the classroom. Also, children that have a more substantial lunch at school are less likely to graze on high calorie, high fat snack foods when they get home.

As parents, we know that good nutrition will help our children grow-up healthy, but what foods comprise a healthy meal? Here are some “good nutrition” guidelines for you to follow when your kids BYOL:
  •  Lean Meat/Protein Substitutes – Such as chicken or turkey breast, tuna packed in water, eggs, beans, fat-free cheese, fat-free cottage cheese or yogurt
  • Whole Grains - Such as a100% whole grain bread, crackers, English muffins, pitas, tortillas, or cereals
  • Fruits and Vegetables - At least one portion each of a fruit and vegetable (children tend to prefer it sliced which is easier to handle - for cut fruit that tends to go brown i.e. Apples - squeeze lemon juice)
  • Beverage - low in sugar and preferably without artificial ingredients, such as infused water or lightly sweetened iced tea
·        Optional: Healthy Green Light Snack – such as air-popped popcorn, trail mix, dried fruit bars (like Trader Joes Fiberful bars)

This balanced lunch will provide your child with a variety of nutrients, including fiber, calcium, protein, and iron.

Read labels: Avoid foods with unhealthy food additives and other ingredients such as:
·        partially hydrogenated oils
·        saturated fats
·        nitrates
·        artificial colors and flavorings
·        high sodium
·        excess sugar
·        MSG - look for glutamic acid or glutamate on the ingredients list

Tip - Choose natural and organic foods as much as possible.

With a clearer sense of what to include, it should be easier to prepare healthy lunches. But what about getting your kids to eat the lunches you prepare? These tips can help you pack wholesome meals that your kids are likely to eat and enjoy.

Involve your child - Children often like to help their parents and are more likely to eat foods that they choose and make. So let them help you make the shopping list, look through recipes and help prepare their lunches (to whatever extent their skills allow). The kitchen can become a place where you can bond with your children over food and educate them in a fun atmosphere.

Portion appropriately - Offer more foods in smaller serving sizes versus large quantities of fewer foods so that larger portions do not overwhelm your child.

Create variety - Don’t get into the rut of serving only the foods your child says he will eat. The wider the range of colors a meal offers, the more varied nutrients it contains. If your children are interested in trying new foods, suggest that they keep a log of new foods and what they think about them.

Add visual appeal - Presentation can make lunch fun and interesting for kids. Use cookie cutters to cut fruits, veggies and sandwiches in fun shapes. Choose lunch containers in their favorite colors and let them decorate the outside.

Transform old favorites - For example, take the usual ham and cheese sandwich and use whole-wheat breadinstead of white, and substitute organic ham.

Creating a week’s worth of lunches that are diverse and delicious is a challenge. To help you break a monotonous routine, we have created the RLGLER Healthy Lunch Planning Grid, complete with creative lunch ideas. Just pick one item from each column to create each day’s lunch meal.

Main Dish – Lean Protein + Whole Grains
Fruit/Vegetable Side
Healthy Snack
Grilled chicken fajita in a whole wheat tortilla with onions and peppers
Apple slices with 1 tbsp almond butter
Whole grain or fruit and nut bar
Organic turkey on multigrain bread with mustard
Side salad with
lettuce, tomato
and fat free mozzarella
Lemon infused water
Organic fruit leather
Whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce, chick peas and grated parmesan
Diced peaches or strawberries
Sparkling water
Trail mix made with whole grain cereal, dried fruit, nuts
Yogurt Parfait: Light yogurt with whole grain cereal
Fresh blueberries
Lightly sweetened iced tea
Air popped popcorn
Vegetarian or turkey chili
Frozen grapes
Low-sodium tomato juice
Soy crisps, veggie chips or baked chips