Teaching your child how to eat healthily now means they will be more likely to make their own healthy choices as they get older. Here are some tips to encourage healthy eating habits:
- Sit together as a family at mealtimes, without any screens.
- Make healthy foods fun, for example by cutting fruit or sandwiches into interesting shapes.
- Serve a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- Learn together about how different foods are grown.
- Let your children help with food shopping and preparation.
- Try new foods and recipes.
- Limit the amount of junk food you keep in the house.
- Keep a bowl of fruit handy for snacks.
The thought of taking your children with you when grocery shopping can be stressful. It can limit the patience and sanity of most parents, especially when they begin to do temper tantrums while you buy the groceries. But did you know that the grocery store is the perfect place to help children develop important skills? Yes, it’s true, because a young child can learn planning, time management, completing tasks, and communication in the grocery store.
When given the right conditions, taking a young child to grocery shopping can be productive, educational, and fun. There are lots to see and do at the grocery store, and with the right strategies, both parents and children can enjoy the time they spend grocery shopping. If you have a child and you haven’t brought him or her with you to the grocery store yet, we are going to give you some of the importance of taking a young child grocery shopping. These might make you decide to try bringing your child to the grocery store one day and have a great time.
- A Young Child Can Learn Numbers
- A Young Child Can Practice Social Skills
- A Young Child Can Learn About Food
- A Young Child Can Learn About Advertising and Labelling
- A Young Child Can Learn About Money
- It Is a Fun Experience
Know when not to take a young child grocery shopping.
Children have different moods, meaning, you cannot always take them with you when you do some grocery shopping. If they are tired, grumpy, or overstimulated, it’s better to just leave them at home. It is also not a good idea to bring children to the supermarket when it is super busy, especially during the holidays.
The same goes for you. Never take your child to the supermarket when you are tired, stressed, in a hurry, or when you have a long list of things to buy. It’s because young ones won’t be able to cope with hours of shopping, and they will just eventually get bored.
Many autistic people struggle with shopping environments. Whilst every person with autism presents differently, many on the spectrum struggle with things like noise, smells and sound.
Sensory processing difficulties means people become overloaded when they get too much sensory information to process at once. Shopping environments are full of different noises, smells and sounds and can easily cause an overload for people on the autistic spectrum.
- bakery products
- meat and fish counters
- fridges humming
- alarms going off
- bright artificial lights to highlight produce
- excessive light
- flashing signs /lights
Change to routine, even very minor changes, can be very difficult for some autistic people. Shops are unpredictable. Whole aisles change from one day to the next and specific products you want may not be available that day.
How someone copes when they are overloaded will differ from one person to the next. Some will shut down, some meltdown and others appear to be overexcited and get very hyperactive.
Many shops are beginning to introduce slow shopping or quiet hours. This is dedicated times where staff will be more aware of customers who have difficulties with shopping and the environments may be adapted for that hour e.g. lower noise levels.
You can also now get sunflower lanyards, often available from customer services at supermarkets. These lanyards indicate that the wearer has a hidden disability and may require extra support.
While it may try your patience at times, cooking with children has loads of benefits that carry way beyond the kitchen. It helps builds self-esteem, teaches them the importance of following directions, and (hopefully!) puts them on the path to a lifetime of healthier eating habits. Plus, having involvement in what happens at mealtime can be a powerful tool in overcoming picky eating-something we parents all face at some point.
Every child is different and you will need to decide when your child is ready for each idea. Some children will begin to develop these skills using pretend plan such as a toy kitchen and plastic food and equipment for some time before they are ready to do more. Having the opportunity to copy you and the things you are doing is essential for any child’s development.
Toddlers may not be ready to “cook” but that doesn’t mean they aren’t primed to have some fun in the kitchen! For young children, one of the biggest challenges is being able to see and reach the counter safely. Find a good, sturdy stool that they can stand on, preferably one with rails to prevent falls. To avoid accidents, place the stool in a safe area away from the stove, and keep knives and other sharp objects out of reach.
You can feed their curiosity by letting them play, wash and “make” food alongside you. If you’ve got unbreakable bowls, a little water and some utensils, that’s enough to get your little ones going on their own pretend “soups.”
Help them pour ingredients into bowls. Let them stir, feel, taste and explore little pieces of what you’re cooking with. Ask them what they think of it. How does it taste? Smell? Encourage them to use their senses and let them watch you if they’re curious.
If you have a little one who just really wants a job, washing produce is a great place to start. Little children love water (just have some towels ready), and an easy-to-use salad spinner is a great foolproof kitchen utensil that’s great for young children.
Knife Skills 101
You may be surprised to find knife skills suggested for such a young age group, but it’s arguably one of the most important skills to master. A 3-year-old can practice knife skills by cutting soft foods-think strawberries or cucumbers-using a dull knife, such as a butter knife or plastic knife. (You know your child best, so judge accordingly.) Here, you can teach them how to hold a knife-by the handle only, not touching the blade-and how to pass a knife from one person to another safely: handle toward the person you’re passing it to, with the blade pointing away from them.
Sandwiches, English muffin (or bagel) pizzas and regular-size pizzas are great for this age group. Spreading ingredients like peanut butter or tomato sauce on top of small pieces of bread is a doable task for most young children, and letting them pick their own toppings is a great way to give them a little control and creative license. You don’t have to stick to the open-face theme, but doing so lets them admire their creations.
Smoothies are great for childrens creatively, mostly because the combinations are endless and they’re all pretty much guaranteed to be delicious. Strawberry and peaches? Great! Blueberry and banana? Awesome! Have two or three different types of frozen fruit on hand to get you started. All you need to add at this point is liquid (and anything else you or your child may want to add). You can have your child pour all of the ingredients into the blender and have them press the buttons too (with supervision of course).
Baking can be finicky, but oddly, also great for small kids. With the younger set, start with the basics: in baking, there are wet ingredients and dry ingredients. Have them name and mix the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, etc.) and then the wet ingredients (water, oil, eggs, etc.) and then teach them how to mix them together. If you have a little tornado on your hands, here is a great place to teach them control. Mixing is gentle, and one hand is ALWAYS on the bowl, with the other doing the mixing so everything doesn’t end up on the floor.
Setting & Clearing the Table
Outside of actual cooking, this a great age group to get motivated to participate in mealtime rituals (and actually help you in the process). While you are likely to get dagger eyes from a teenager, your 3- to 5-year-old may willingly (and enthusiastically) set the table before mealtime. Teach them where utensils go (fork on the left, knife and spoon on the right, unless you’re left-handed, then reverse it), and let them fold and place the napkins.
The same goes for after mealtime too. Let them take the plates off the table and back into the kitchen. Will it be perfect? No. But your little one will feel good about helping, while taking a small job off your shoulders.
Stove Basics: Introduce Some Heat
When ready you can start to introduce some actual cooking skills. Teach them the basics of using a stove (with your supervision always). Practice turning the stove off and on. A great first “recipe” is scrambled eggs. You can crack an egg or two (always fun), beat them together and cook them over medium heat slowly without much to-do, which is perfect for children. Use a nonstick skillet and just a teaspoon or two of oil and that should make for a pretty forgiving (and safe) cooking experience.
There are a few cooking safety rules to teach children that adults may never think about:
- If there is a handle, always keep it pointing away from you to prevent knocking into it.
- Position handles away from other burners to prevent them from getting too hot.
- Always have a potholder or dry dish towel at the ready to grab handles just in case.
Let your children take responsibility over an entire meal by encouraging them to make their own lunches. Letting them pick and choose what goes into their lunchbox is empowering, and since they are choosing what appeals to them, it’s less likely that food will go uneaten. This is a great place to sneak in some basic nutrition lessons too by teaching them the ingredients of a balanced lunch: protein, fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
If your mornings are rushed, consider making lunches the night before. While adults can make lunch on autopilot, it may take children some extra time. Need some recipe inspiration for your little chef? Try sandwiches with spreads such as hummus, nut butter or sunflower butter. Stock up on canned beans to toss with chopped veggies and a drizzle of olive oil. Cooked whole grains can also be easily transformed into delicious portable salads by adding veggies, nuts or dried fruit. And if you don’t have one yet, consider getting a bento box—these cute lunchboxes come divided into sections, so you have a visual reminder for what you need to pack and where.
If you have a budding artist on your hands, letting them get creative with food presentation is a great way to get them interested in cooking in general. It can be as simple as arranging berries in a bowl of yogurt to look like something or making a silly face on an open-face sandwich. If your early grade-schooler has a younger sibling, have the older child “design” a breakfast or lunch item for the little one to eat and enjoy. If you’re having a party or gathering, charge your kid with designing the vegetable platter or suggest creating small bites that look like animals, bugs or something else in the natural world (Pinterest has tons of ideas for inspiration). Have them decorate and finish a cake or cupcakes. They can keep it simple or make it elaborate, depending on their skill level.
Sharp Knife Skills
By 8 years old, some children may be ready to try a real chef’s knife with supervision (again, you are the best judge of your child’s readiness). Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
Select a smaller knife to start with if you have one. Most chef knives are around 8 inches long, which is fine, but some are shorter (around 6 inches or so) and may be better for small hands.
Reinforce the right way to hold a knife (by the bolster, or the place where the blade and handle meet.) The temptation to place a finger along the top of the blade is common, but this destabilizes the knife, so correct them if you see that.
Teach them to keep their fingers curled under if they are on the cutting board (not flat).
And remember: this isn’t an iron chef competition, so going SLOWLY is always preferred.
By now, children should have a firm grasp on proper handwashing, so it’s a good time to dabble in cooking with meat and to teach them the “standard breading procedure”: dipping ingredients like chicken tenders or even veggies in flour, then egg, then a breadcrumb coating before cooking in a pan or in the oven.
Once children master this, they may request to make their own chicken nuggets from scratch rather than opening up a bag from the freezer aisle.
When you’re working with raw meat, now is a good time to teach children about cross contamination, or the concept that once raw meat has touched a surface, it can no longer be used for cooked food unless it’s washed thoroughly. Better yet, keep separate, color-coded cutting boards for raw meat and produce.
By now, in a perfect world, your children will be ready to be active participants in meal planning. Ask them for their opinions and ideas for a few meals a week and ask them, ahead of time, what portion of the meal they would like to own. If you have a dinner party or birthday celebration coming up, have your children help with planning the menu and cooking up the meal.
Take them to the store with you to gather ingredients, if time allows. Participating in the shopping experience teaches them where to find the most nutritious ingredients for cooking (along the periphery of the store) as well as an early lesson about food costs.
If you struggle to get your teen away from screens or out of their bedrooms, you’re not alone. But keeping active at this age is more important than ever.
The teenage years – when you have your biggest growth spurt – is the most important time for muscle and bone-strengthening exercises. These tend to be high-intensity activities that involve weight-bearing or jumping. Building strong muscles and bones at this age can help you reach your full physical capacity and avoid problems later in life.
If you need ideas for activities for your teen this summer, try some of these eight suggestions.
- Basketball. It can be fun to have a net at home so your teen can practise their skills. But if that’s not an option, you may be able to find one in a nearby park – the perfect excuse to get a group of mates together.
- Skatepark. Whether they’re skateboarding, scooting, or rollerblading, getting your teen down to their local skatepark can make for a fun – and energetic – afternoon out.
- Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). One of the most popular water sports in recent years. You can find paddleboards for hire and taster sessions on rivers, canals, and coastal areas all over the UK. Paddleboarding is a lot of fun – and getting the technique right can be a full body workout too.
- Cycling. Having a bike can help your teen to be independent. If they’re more of a thrill-seeker, investigate local biking tracks for that extra adrenaline fix.
- Video games. Ideally, it’s better to cut down on screen time altogether. But if that’s a battle, at least try to encourage games that keep you moving. There’s a wide range of sports, virtual reality, and dancing games available – you may even want to join in!
- Yoga. This is a great exercise for improving strength, flexibility, and balance. It’s good for learning some relaxation tips too and can boost mental wellbeing. You can attend a class in person or follow a session online.
- Parkour. A relatively new sport, Parkour incorporates running, jumping, and climbing around various obstacles. If your teen is an adrenaline junkie or just looking for something a bit different, this might do the trick. Parkour facilities are starting to pop up everywhere, even in local parks. You can also encourage your teen to join a group or class .
- Resistance training. Using free weights and machines is an excellent way of building up muscle strength. This is something that teenagers can do more of as they get older – and can lead onto an adult fitness routine.
If you manage to help your teen find a sport they love they will be more likely to carry this on in adulthood. Some neurodivergent young people don’t want to join in with team sport finding the social side a challenge. Maybe consider a sport that they can enjoy as an adult such as the gym, golf, swimming or running.
Organisation by Laurie Martin, Teen Magazine
Teenagers often struggle with balancing social life, studies, and extracurricular activities. Add screen time, sleep deprivation, and too much other stuff, and it is no wonder many students experience disorganisation. Teenagers tend to function in a reactive instead of proactive mode to compensate for lost time. They end up multitasking, which actually decreases effectiveness and efficiency.
Providing your teenagers with the skills and tools to get organised is one of the most valuable gifts you can give your child. Yet, it is difficult to expect a teenager to be organised when the parent is highly disorganised. For parents who really struggle with organisation, it may be worth bringing in an expert to help coach and guide your teenager in setting up systems and routines that work for them. Teenagers feel empowered, encouraged, and confident when they are a part of the organising process.
Remember that organising is a process and not a one-time event. You need to maintain it and may need to tweak it to ensure that it works for your teen. Teenagers should carve out time every Sunday night to look ahead at the upcoming week. This would include reviewing notes of any tests, project due dates or appointments.
Teenagers should also purge and organize their rooms once a month instead of once a year. It is amazing how quickly candy wrappers, crumpled papers, used tissues, old magazines, and outgrown clothes can accumulate in a short period of time. Organisation is a life skill that people can learn at any age. The earlier you teach children organisational skills, the quicker they will develop and retain these critical skills. Organizing promotes freedom, balance and self-discovery.
Teenagers need to learn how to create customized and maintainable systems for organising their belongings, their space, and their time, but in a way that makes sense to them. First, they must recognise and avoid time wasters, like interruptions, technology (email, social media, text messaging, etc.), perfectionism, and procrastination. Additionally, teenagers should:
- Work in a space that enhances productivity.
- Turn off technology when completing homework and projects.
- Use a timer to stay focused.
- Prioritise assignments and estimate the length of each task.
To manage their time, teenagers should use a planner to record EVERYTHING, including homework assignments, projects, extracurricular activities, holidays, birthdays, and family vacations. They should also hang a large monthly calendar and update it weekly.
This will help them to develop these skills for adulthood.
A messy room
While you may be horrified by the revolting things that you discover in your teen’s bedroom, you may still feel powerless to do anything about them. Asking, pleading, and screaming don’t seem to work. So how should a parent handle it?
Some parents hope that children will learn their lessons naturally. They pray that their slovenly daughter will change their ways after discovering a favourite skirt at the bottom of a laundry pile, befouled by mildew. They hope that their son will see the light after stepping on a swarm of ants bustling around a candy wrapper.
That approach could work, but it might not. Taking a more direct approach in dealing with your teen’s bedroom is probably a better idea. Here are a few tips.
Settle on some standards. Before you get into a struggle with your teen, you need to decide what exactly you want from them. What constitutes a “clean” room? How often does it need to be clean? If you make up rules on the fly, or in anger, you’re bound to get stuck enforcing some dumb policies. Besides, any teen worth their salt will be able to find the loopholes in poorly thought-out cleaning rules.
Distinguish between untidy and unsanitary. A messy room with piles of books and papers might annoy you. But they’re not unsanitary like a pile of dirty plates. Don’t confuse the two.
Pick your battles. “If you go to your teen with a list of 20 things that you want her to do, she won’t do any of them,” says Altmann. “But if you figure out a few things that are the most important to you, you may have better luck.” So decide what’s mandatory. Making the bed every day? Putting away the laundry? Getting homework done? Once you’ve settled on a few essential things that your teen has to do, you have to let go of some of the other stuff.
Respect your teen’s individuality. A teen who isn’t doing things the way you want isn’t necessarily being obstinate or rebellious. They may just be less neat and organized than you are. “You may want your kid to be a certain kind of person, but he may not be that person,” says Wibbelsman. “You have to respect him anyway.”
So instead of forcing your teen to do things just as you would, come up with some cleaning responsibilities that you can both live with. Then let your teen meet those responsibilities in their own way.
Teaching teens about good hygiene tends to be one part teaching and many parts (gentle) reminders. While you’ve likely taught them many skills from early childhood on, some of these hygiene tasks are new, or need to be done independently for the first time.
It’s also common for children to grow less vigilant on personal hygiene when they hit middle and high school, especially once they’re no longer under their parent’s watchful eye while grooming. Here’s a primer on which healthy hygiene habits to teach your teen and how to instil them into your child’s daily routine.
It’s important to consider if a teen’s lack of interest in hygiene is related to larger mental health issues. When behaviours like excessive nail biting, skin picking, hair pulling, and refusing to shower become habitual and/or are causing physical or emotional harm, your teen may need treatment for an underlying condition like depression, anxiety, a pathological grooming disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
If you notice pervasive hygiene issues that cause you concern, contact your teen’s doctor or therapist to evaluate if something else is going on. There is often a lot of shame involved in these behaviours. Be sure to talk to your teen, too. Offer them nonjudgmental support so that they can feel more comfortable talking about what’s going on and get the help they need.
In many cases, our children learn how to behave by watching our example. Hygiene is no different. If you have a regular routine for keeping yourself clean, your teen will see this as normal behaviour. However, it’s also typical for tweens and teens to become laxer about their hygiene routines, so it’s helpful for parents to be diligent in making sure their children are keeping up with these daily habits.
Peers also shape how teens behave. If your child’s best friend tends to be especially clean or loads up on cologne, don’t be surprised when your kid starts showering more frequently or comes home with a new body wash or perfume. Alternatively, if their friends don’t seem especially concerned with maintaining optimal hygiene, then your child might become less inclined as well.
Many schools also instruct students about the importance of proper hygiene habits, such as showering regularly and wearing deodorant.
How do you teach children patience? How do you teach them to resist temptation when they want it right now? How do you teach self-control? Do you want your child to be a patient postponer or an instant gratifier?
As a parent, you can encourage your child to delay gratification with a few simple tips. For starters, help your child work toward his or her goal with a step by step plan. If your tween is working on a big project with the promise of a nice dinner once it’s completed, help him or her map out a plan to get to the finish line. You could develop a calendar for your child to review or establish goals that are written down and can be reviewed. Offer encouragement as your tween progresses through the project and motivate your student as he or she gets closer and closer to the goal.
Be sure that you carry through on any promise that you made to your tween. If you promised your child that you would go to the movies after he or she brings up a math grade, be sure you make good on your promise once your child has accomplished the goal.
In the end, your child will eventually learn that the choices we all make come with consequences. Delaying gratification can help your tween set his or her sites on bigger goals, and work towards achieving them.
Teaching teenagers about money can be one of the most valuable lessons they’ll receive. But it’s not always the easiest subject to discuss.
With your child or certainly with your young adolescent, ask yourself a very telling question: When it comes to having some ready money, does she or he seem to be a Spender or a Saver? A ‘spender’ is a child who as soon as money is in hand has an overwhelming urge to spend it right away on something immediately pleasurable, it often doesn’t seem to matter what. A ‘saver’ by contrast wants to delay, hold onto the money, is inclined to think about purchasing possibilities that arise with its accumulation, perhaps waiting to spend on something more expensive ahead.
Psychologically, youthful spenders often seem to have low impulse control, high need for immediate gratification, and focus more on now than later. Youthful savers often seem to have more self-restraint and some sense of future possibility worth planning for. Savers tend to have a capacity for delayed gratification and judgment that spenders often seem to lack. For this reason, it can be worthwhile for parents to help a spending child practice a saving habit.
Having pocket money begins to teach some rudimentary skills for money management, among which is that it is never enough to buy all you want, so the child must exercise judgment and learn to be selective. Children can still learn to save at this level.
The next stage is earning money. Too young to get a job out in the world, parents can set occasional earning opportunities in the home to help the child connect doing work and getting paid for labour. Such special work is outside of expected chores and normal requests for household help which are freely invested in the upkeep of family. In the same way, money is not attached to grades which take unpaid work to accomplish.
Once in early to mid-adolescence (ages 9 – 15) young people can start getting work outside of family, perhaps from family friends or neighbours, like doing yard work, clean up, pet care, or babysitting for example. What young people learn is working with an employer, fulfilling an agreement, assuming some responsibility, how it can take a lot of time and effort to make relatively little money, and how the earning can give money additional personal value. Also, earning can affirm self-esteem: “I have effort to offer that is worth paying for.”
Competent money management is a challenge for everyone, including their parents, and the teenager needs to know this. Those young people who leave home with these skills and responsibilities mostly in place are better able to keep their footing and make their independent way, at least so I have observed.
Addiction is a treatable condition. Lots of people can experience addiction, but the reasons for their addiction may be different. Addictions can be harmful to your physical and mental health.
Many neurodivergent people have particular interests or activities that they like to spend time on, but this is not considered an addiction. However, if an activity is affecting your schoolwork, finances, friendships, relationships or mood, or you are becoming dependent on the activity or substance, these could be signs of addiction.
People can develop an addiction if they are struggling to cope with everyday life, have a particular difficulty in their lives or have a family history/ live with others with addiction.
There may be other reasons too. Social situations and sensory differences can make people feel stressed and anxious.
Some people might also use, or even become reliant on, alcohol or drugs to mask their autistic characteristics, to ‘fit in’. Frequent and prolonged use of alcohol and drugs in this way can lead people to becoming addicted to these things.
Why do some teenagers drink?
Experimenting with alcohol becomes more common as children get older. For example, in England in 2018, 14% of 11-year-olds said they had tried alcohol compared to 70% of 15-year-olds.
The development of the rational ‘thinking brain’ is not fully completed until 16 or 17 years-old, with more ‘fine tuning’ right into the early 20s.
If you’re concerned your teenager is struggling to cope with the pressures or worries of growing up in Britain today, it’s possible they may wrongly think drinking is a way to cope. And they might have seen adults ‘drinking to cope’ with life stresses.
How to talk to your teenager about alcohol
Parents, guardians and teachers are encouraged to talk openly with teenagers and other children about the serious risks associated with drinking as soon as they could be exposed to alcohol, either in or outside the home.
A good way to approach it is to:
- Make it clear that their health and safety are vital to you
- The UK Chief Medical Officers’ advice is that the healthiest option for teenagers and children is not to drink.
- Give them information and facts – and be honest
- This can help your teenager understand your advice and guide them towards making responsible decisions.
- Set boundaries as a vital part of their healthy development
- Sticking to agreed rules can encourage ‘self-policing’ and avoid uncertainty.
- Have on-going conversations about alcohol
This can stop your teenager feeling it’s unfair or unreasonable, or coming across as a lecture.
A simple way to boost your credibility is to take a step back and think about your own drinking behaviour. Research shows that riskier drinking behaviours by parents are often copied by their children.
Thinking about your teen and peer pressure
The people around you (your peers) influence your day-to-day decisions, even if you don’t realise it.
Sometimes this can be a good thing. Maybe a friend suggested a book that’s now your favourite.
But sometimes they might pressure you to do things you don’t want to do. Like hurt someone else, do something unsafe or miss school.
Peer pressure means feeling like you have to do something because people around you want you to or expect you to. It might be to make someone else happy or to fit in with a new group. It’s okay to say no if you don’t want to or feel uncomfortable. You have the right to choose what’s best for you, even if it’s not what other people think is best.
Trying new things is a part of growing up. But that doesn’t mean that you have to drink alcohol, take drugs and smoke.
If your friends are all taking part, it can feel hard to say no. But it’s your decision, not theirs. And you have the right to decide what you want to do.
Each situation is different, but it’s hard to go back and change things if you get in trouble. Remember you have the right to say no.
Try to think it through what will happen if you take drugs – your physical and mental health could be harmed.
ADHD and drugs
Parents of teenagers with ADHD can help by talking to them early about the dangers of substance abuse. Let them know that having ADHD can make them more likely to get addicted. Parents can also help them learn positive coping skills instead of trying to solve problems for them. That way, teens are less likely to turn to substances when they run into challenges.
Finally, it’s important for parents to keep positive relationships with their teens. ADHD can cause fights and frustration at home, and the conflict can cause stress that pushes teenagers toward substance use. Family therapy and behavioural treatment for the teen’s ADHD can help families resolve tension.