Children are amazing.
They have incredible persistence, creative thinking, problem solving skills and they LOVE tackling a challenge…especially one that adults have failed to conquer. 😉
So, why don’t we remember this when it comes to getting them taking their vitamins?
There is a larger issue at work here, which I need to mention. One of the strands in the current crisis in health care in the western world is dis-empowerment. We have learnt to dis-empower ourselves and give all power to doctors. We have learnt that health means doing what I am told to do. Taking what I’m told to take, regardless of the reasons, regardless of the side effects, regardless of how I feel about it, or want I think about it. This is a very dis-empowered place. It is a very disconnected place. We disconnect from our bodies, and so we disconnect from our ‘selves’.
Now hear me on this. I do NOT think doctors are a waste of time. No. The best doctors are those who empower their patients with understanding and a voice. Sadly many, especially those in General Practice, don’t have time for that, so it comes back to “what’s wrong? Take this pill to feel better.” [Maybe this is a blog for another time, but I see a strong correlation here to the dis-empowered place that we nurture in kids… one which progresses into them being on the playground, club, alley way, or party and are so used to just putting any pill in their mouth when they are told to without question or discernment…]
So what does this have to do with children and vitamins?
If we want to do our own tiny little bit in helping change this and make cultural shift in our own homes, we need to start by helping children connect with their bodies and utilise all their amazingness to empower them to look after their own body.
When it comes to taking off-the-shelf vitamins, children often just do it because they are so laden with sugar that it is effectively like you are asking them to take a sweet daily: no problem! 🙂 The nutritional integrity of a supplement where the first or second listed ingredient is some form of sugar is always, in my mind, to be questioned.
However, if you ask children to take a top quality nutritional supplement, like the only one I recommend and use, one where the integrity of the product; the ingredients, the actual science and health-based reason for creating that supplement, haven’t been sacrificed on the alter of sweetness and the taste-buds of a generation of sugar-addicted children, then they may, possibly say “no”.
[**Incidentally if you want to know the difference or find out if you are wasting money on sweets or getting the real deal, The Nutrisearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements helps anyone get clear on which are quality products and which are not.**]
So what do we do?
- Do we let their bodies continue the mission of surviving in this day and age without the extra resources they desperately need?
- Do we allow our conflict-averse selves to believe that they can get everything they need from their food alone (a belief as outdated as ‘computers will never be in every home’).
- Do we try the stealth-ninja technique and hide crushed up tablets in smoothies, yogurt and juice and act all normal, expecting them not to notice? – well, maybe if the children are too small or they really don’t notice.
There is another way. It is a better way. A way that gets me emails of delight from parents celebrating their kids accomplishments (and their children’s pride in themselves) when they follow these 7 simple steps.
7 Simple Steps to Get Children Taking their Vitamins
1. ROLE MODEL – don’t expect your children to do something that you are not doing. If you expect your kids to take vitamins when you don’t, they may be getting a message that it’s ok for them but not for you – that they need it, you don’t – that there is something wrong with them. When a parent leads the way, children quickly watch, learn, follow and a culture of everyone moving towards health gets created.
2. TEACH them, at their level, why it is important to take extra vitamins/ antioxidants/ micro-nutrients. If you need help with this ask.
3. EXPLAIN BENEFITS to them – just some ways these vitamins will help their body in ways that are relevant to them, e.g. help your brain work better, help you be faster at running, help your body stay strong when there are germs around.
4. ACKNOWLEDGE you understand if they don’t like the taste. No matter what it tastes like to your palette, theirs is different. If they think it doesn’t actually taste great, you pretending like it does, or tell them ‘it’s not that bad’ can feel dishonest and like you don’t understand them.
5. ISSUE THE CHALLENGE “I’ve been thinking of how to get these in your body, but I haven’t come up with anything great. So it’s over to you. I challenge you to figure out a way to get them in you. They don’t have to taste nice, you don’t have to love them, I just wonder if you can figure out something I couldn’t – figure out how you could take them?”
6. WALK AWAY and leave them to it (age and safety dependent obviously). Children need the neo-cortex part of their brain to problem solve. When they are feeling under pressure from scrutiny, that part actually shuts off. So give them space, remove all pressure and leave them to it.
7. CELEBRATE when they tell you they’ve cracked it… big deal whoops, high-fives or a low-key 1 sentence if that’s what they prefer, but acknowledge their good job on using their persistence, problem solving, creative thinking and the fact they have found a way to help their body even better than you.
When children feel empowered and curious their resources are unlimited.
Children can do more than we think.
Don’t believe me?
Want to see more on what children can really do when given space to figure things out for themselves ? Watch this TEDx talk.
I love Thai food.
I am currently doing the CHEW Trim Down together with a bunch of lovely parents and professionals, and when I shared this creation in our fb group the requests for the recipe came in. Easier said than done as really I just played in my kitchen, made it up as I went along and surprisingly created… this dish of deliciousness!
The focus of the CHEW Trim Down program is on resourcing the body with what it really needs and as far as food goes, being intentionally intelligent about the food we eat: food that nourishes bodies and minds. This dish does it – low GI, colourful, taste sensations and adaptable to your own level of spice-tolerance.
Ingredients – adjust depending on how many (and how hungry) people you want to feed!
- red onion (1/2) sliced v v thin
- yellow pepper (1/2) sliced v v thin
- orange pepper (1/4) sliced v v thin
- celery (1 stick) chopped into 1 inch pieces and sliced v v thin
- garlic (3 cloves) crushed
- ginger (1 inch) chopped very small (use powdered if you don’t have the real deal – although real is always best 😉 )
- chilli – chopped very small or dried chilli flakes (to taste)
- coconut oil
- fish stock cube (1 – GF)
- coconut milk (1/2 can)
- thai fish sauce (tiny bit!!)
- carrot (1 per person) Spiralized with a Julienne Peeler
- prawns (1/2 small packet)
- mango (1/2 per person) cubed
What I did
- Get ready! Act like a TV chef and get everything chopped, sliced and ready to go before you start. This takes some time, but once the pan is on, it is quick going.
- Heat 1 knob of coconut oil in a casserole – type pan. When melted, add the ginger, garlic and chillies if you are using them. Cook + stir spices together for about 1 minute.
- Add the sliced veg to the spices and cook for about 1-2 minutes until they just begin to soften but are still crunchy.
- Pour in the coconut milk and stir as it heats up. Mix the fish stock cube with a small amount of boiling water and add this to the pan.
- Add a dash of the Thai fish sauce – (I have learnt from past experience always to pour it into the lid then into the pan… straight from the bottle into pan seems to ask for trouble as a little goes a long way!)
- Heat more coconut oil in a separate small frying pan and saute the Julienned carrot for 2-3 minutes until bendy. You can sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds if you have them.
- Add the prawns to the pot and warm through in the liquid concoction. Just before serving add the mango chunks too.
- Either mix the carrot into the big pot and serve all mixed together, or put it in a bowl with ladles of the laksa on top.
Enjoy each and every mouthful – savour the moment.
WOW!! Looks full of light and fun and scrummm!!
Yes, yes it is. x
P.S. Want to know more about the CHEW Trim Down? Get in touch
Sometimes parents or education professionals feel overwhelmed.
It can be so easy to have stuff going on and feel like you don’t know which way to turn, what to do for the best, or even what the real options are.
Whether it’s about you, your child, or something else, your family and friends – if you have the courage to talk to them – will no doubt give you lots of opinions (!) but may find it hard to give you sound, un-biased advice.
And yet sometimes just 1 significant conversation can be all you need to get clarity, courage or confidence for your next step.
That’s when it could be time for your : 1 significant conversation.
- Feel like you have things going on and would really love to talk it through and be heard by someone who actually gets it?
- Wish there was a way of getting an independent, expert, professional opinion from someone who has your (and your child’s) best interest at heart?
- Wish you could get some support to help you clarify what your options are and which is your best next step?
- Wish you could speak to someone – off the record – so it wont get back to the school playground or staff room.
Now you CAN.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat with you and share my story.
Not only was it really helpful to talk things through and discuss my families difficulties but the suggestions you made and your perspective of what may be triggering certain reactions in our family was really insightful.
I feel really empowered by our conversation.
Thank you again
“Sounds just what I need – WHAT DO I DO now?”
If you want to take advantage of a FREE 30 minute SIGNIFICANT CONVERSATION with CHEW Initiatives Director, Claire Wilson, then fill in the form below and we will be in touch to arrange a convenient time.
NB : There are only a limited number of Conversations available each week, so bare in mind, you may not be able to get one immediately.
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Last week there was a documentary on British TV about children and sleep; a crisis hitting our younger generation.
I’m sure we all know the horrible feeling of not having had enough sleep – it happens to us all from time to time. However, the additional knock-on effects of so many children not getting enough sleep as a regular occurrence, are huge. The consequences are being faced by teachers, charities and the NHS. It is a problem on the increase – referrals to a sleep lab at Sheffield Children’s hospital have increased a staggering 10-fold in the last decade.
The program explored the impact of sleep deprivation. Even just 1 hour of missed sleep, affects alertness, brain function, concentration and problem solving. Some children in schools are functioning up to 2 years behind their peers because of the impact of sleep deprivation. Everyone knows poor sleep will impact emotional regulation and behaviour (whatever age you are), but not everyone knows that sleep deprivation can also lead to weight gain, obesity, and other health issues.
If you missed the 30 min program, I have posted the link at the bottom of this blog so you can watch it on iplayer (UK only I think).
Sleep is an issue I have talked with parents about over and over through the years.
It is becoming a more frequent topic with my adult clients too, so I watched the BBC Panorama program with interest to see what angle the media were going to portray (what comes out of my television is not always information I agree with especially when it comes to topics of children, health or well-being!)
I was glad they highlighted the impact that screens are having in children’s (and adults brains); how screens stimulate brains and get them more alert. Children are more and more frequently handed a screen to ‘keep them quiet’ while adults get on with other jobs. Whilst the volume of noise coming from a child whilst they focus on a screen may be significantly less (!) their brain is being woken up and stimulated – the exact opposite of the ‘calming’ that parents think is happening. Children who are handed a phone or tablet screen for a bed-time story or allowed to watch some ‘calm down TV’ or videos are actually being handed the very tool that will be causing them to struggle going to sleep.
Just as a brain is stimulated by the blue light in screens, so other chemicals going into the body can have the same impact. The big factor here are the chemicals known as ‘food and drink’. Children who are given foods with a high sugar content (from glucose or processed carbs) for their evening meal and drinks containing sugar and/or caffeine, are being handed stimulants that will spike their blood sugar and create a bedtime nightmare for everyone.
3 Essential Elements for Easier Sleep
1. At least 1 hour of screen-free time before expecting to go to sleep.
This includes phones, tablets, computers, TV, and anything else that emits ‘blue’ light.
Screens in their many variations are widely understood to be addictive. If you have created a bedtime-screen routine for you or your children, that is based in addiction then of course it will be ‘interesting’ to change the habit. It will be your decision whether to try the ‘cold turkey’ approach or a slower ween. Either way it will be totally worth it for the better sleep from having a brain that is ready to slow down and rest without the stimulation of the blue light.
2. From after school no sugar-fueled ‘food’ or drink.
Too much sugar in the blood triggers the production of too much cortisol…which again adds to the stimulation in the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that sends a message to the brain that we need to get ready, stay alert because ‘we are not safe’. No one found it easy to go to sleep harbouring a feeling of not being safe. It is against our primeval survival coding.
3. Choose carefully what you focus on before sleep
It seems obvious to say, but arguments and tension, anxiety and fear never help as pre-sleep factors (and yet so many parents think that shouting and raising everyone’s stress levels until a child submits, is the best way to go). Quiet colouring, listening to a story CD, reading a ‘real’ book, writing, drawing or talking about any worries from the day as well as things to be grateful for from the day and things to look forward to tomorrow, are all ways to slow heart rate down, calm the brain and get the body ready for sleep.
For many children and adults, these 3 factors alone can make a huge difference to their ability to go to sleep at a reasonable time, and improve the quality of sleep that follows… and the level of functioning the following day.
Do you know a challenged sleeper?
Have you tried these?
I’d be interested to hear how you got on…
For children who still struggle, even when all these foundation factors are happening regularly – it can be time to explore sleep concerns level 2. These weren’t covered at all in the program, and I’ll be writing about them next…
If you want to see the program for yourself click below.
I love, love, love it when we give a child the right level of nutrients their body needs. The changes that can come from this simple step are sometimes quietly significant, and sometimes they are so massive they make me want to shout from the rooftops!
I just got this feedback from one of my team who has been supporting a mum in getting the right levels of right quality nutrients for her eldest boy who is still pre-school (just)! Another fabulous example of how a child’s nutrition affects their being and therefore their behaviour.
” It was a rocky beginning, but he has been taking his special vitamins every day since beginning of January (7 weeks). Now, he asks for them every morning and puts the next one out for the following day.
What have I noticed? The whole day is ‘less of a battle.’
He seems to listen more and take in what I’m saying.
He seems to have settled down overnight, e.g. before xmas I wouldn’t have dreamed of going into Tesco with him, let alone with my baby as well, granted I don’t do a full shop but I wouldn’t of even stepped through the door before.
I will now walk to the park with him on his bike, something I didn’t think I would do for a long time!
He even asks for his dinner, I couldn’t get him to sit still before, never mind eat!! A trip to McDonald’s with the boys is stress free! We had also stopped going out for meals because of the stress, but we’ve been out twice in the last month and it’s been a joy!
We are now looking forward to our holiday as a family!!
Those who are familiar with the CHEW ethos, will know that we like to work holistically wherever possible.
It is so important as health; physical, mental and emotional well-being IS all connected. We understand how stress impacts a body and wherever we can, we help others understand that too. Children who have experienced a high level of stress early in life often have lasting impact from lack of nutrients at key developmental times. Whatever has happened to us in life, there are some things that our body needs that can only come through our mouth, and it is so special when parents understand this, make changes and children’s lives get better.
In their words:-
“We have two adopted siblings both of whom display attachment issues and struggle at school with concentration, emotional and social behaviour.
After discussions with Claire we recently considered and then ordered particular dietary supplements with a view to helping the children in two ways.
Firstly, we recognised that whilst they have a very good and varied diet their anxiety levels may be a barrier to them absorbing all the nutrients they need and therefore supplements may be required. Secondly, to see if their concentration could be improved.
We have been a little skeptical in the past about supplements, but are happy that Claire and her colleagues have done enough research to feel confident in this particular company. We would not invest in cheaper alternatives.
Our children have been taking this nutritional support for about 5 months.
At home we have noticed that the children have been more willing and able to sit and do small chunks of homework. Our daughter especially willing to do it on her own, extremely unusual! Their concentration and ability to think seems to be improving.
At school, following parents evening and update meetings we have been told how well they are both doing in the classroom. They are less “noticeable” in class and are able to complete tasks with much less assistance. This is a real step forward.
There could be any number of coincidences for these changes but we do feel that the supplements have played a vital part.
The children like taking them and will remind us if we have forgotten to put them out.”
Adoptive Parents, SOLIHULL