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Mommy, There’s A Monster!

One great thing about watching our babies grow is witnessing them become more imaginative. With that overactive imagination though can come fear of boogie monsters, dragons, ghosts, and the like. As parents, how do we deal with this anxiety in children?

Well, we can look to the SARS epidemic as an example of what to do and what not to do when managing fear.

If respected doctors tell you that there is no reason to be afraid of SARS in Toronto, but then cancel their own conference in the same city, the public deduces that if the experts think there is something to fear, then there must be.

To “less knowledgeable” children, you are the “expert” on everything. If you say “there is no such things as monsters” and then promptly check under the bed, you may unintentionally be demonstrating a reason why they should be afraid. “Heck even the experts are checking the beds and closets!”

Diminishing Fears

We cannot control our children’s fears, but how we react to them can work to either support or de-emphasize them. One strategy is to be “unimpressed” (neither dismissive nor all consumed) and talk in a matter of fact fashion. Don’t waver in your conviction that there are no monsters by saying things like, “Really? You saw a monster in your closet. What did he look like?” It is more comforting to say “There are no such things as monsters. You are creating them with your imagination. And what a wonderful imagination it is!”

Coping Strategies For Fear

Teach your children coping techniques to help them work through their fears. Try some of these responses to help them overcome their anxiety:

“I understand that you are afraid, but I know you are safe and I would never let anything harm you, so you need to think happy warm thoughts instead of scary thoughts. That will help you get to sleep.”

“You’ll have to have a little talk with that imagination of yours and let it know that it is getting in the way of sleeping.”

“When you decide it’s bugging you so much that you have to stop thinking those thoughts – I am sure you will!”

“If watching this video or movie before bed makes you imagine scary things, perhaps you would like to watch something else at bedtime.”

Watch For “The Hidden Pay-off”

Don’t give a “hidden pay-off” by giving your child exceptional service such as letting them sleep in your bed, or keeping you hostage in their room until they fall asleep. If you enjoy caring for your child in these loving ways, do it because you want to. Don’t make them create “issues” to mobilize you into this type of affection or they’ll learn to use issues as a technique to get you to care for them.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

Surviving Sixteen Years and Six Kids

I recently celebrated my 16th wedding anniversary to Daddy-o. When I say “celebrated,” I actually just mean that we both “remembered.” It has been a busy sixteen years and I’d be lying if I said we’ve actually remembered all of our anniversaries. Usually we are reminded of this special occasion when his mother calls to offer congratulations.

People have asked how we’ve survived 16 years and six kids. I could say all the usual healthy relationship tips: don’t go to bed angry, appreciate each other, say “I love you”, make time for each other, communicate honestly and often, blah, blah, blah. All this marriage advice is useful and we probably do them for the most part.

A little pre-wedding croquet!

What I really think has been useful is some of the advice that was given to me.

Before we were married, Daddy-o’s mother sat us down and said this: “Just so you know, there are not going to be hard days, hard weeks and hard months – there are going to be hard YEARS. If you can just work through them it will all be worth it.”

I also remember what my brother says: “If the grass is looking greener on the other side, try taking better care of your lawn.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually think people should be miserable with their spouse for years, and certainly some people take very good care of their lawns and still can’t avoid those poisonous weeds. Ending a marriage can sometimes be the very best thing for a family. Only those in the marriage are qualified to make that call and decide how to fix a relationship. But, I think these messages have been good reminders to me that relationships were never meant to be easy all the time and that part of my responsibility is to work on it.

One thing I do know is that the guy who posted his dissatisfaction with his married sex life online last week should have kept this dissatisfaction to himself. I doubt it helped his marriage and I’m certain it won’t lead to him getting more action in the bedroom. So if nothing else, my relationship advice is DON’T DO WHAT THIS IDIOT DID.

You’re welcome. You can thank me for saving your marriages henceforth.

What keeps your marriage/relationship going strong? Did you get any good dating advice that has helped your partnership?

Sick of chicken? Try cooking lentils!

Protein packed lentils are one of the most ancient crops known to have been cultivated even as much as 8500 years ago! Loads of varieties are available and they are cheap and easily found at any grocery store.  They are one of the few beans that don’t require soaking or any other preparation which makes them perfect for making healthy meals at a low cost.

Getting your family to include lentil nutrition as part of an enjoyable, healthy meal may take some work but the effort is well worth it.  Studies abound on the benefits of lentils, which include the ability to reduce blood pressure and reverse heart disease.  Break the kids in early with mashed lentils as a first food.

Some of the more common varieties include:

Puy Lentils-these small blackish green, lower starch lentils are great for creamy side dishes

Green Lentils-firm, larger pods are ideal for cold salads

Red Lentils- these are actually the hulled inside of other lentils, and are perfect for soups as they disintegrate when cooked.

All lentils rank very highly on the protein scale and when paired with cheese and/or nuts make a complete protein just as effective at building muscle as animal protein. They are also one of the best forms of fibre. A one cup serving meets the requirements for just over half of your day’s needs. Just remember when cooking any lentils, pulses or beans not to add any acid like lemon or vinegar until the very end. Doing so stops the breakdown of the fibre so that they will not cook fully. Well this can be a good thing to prevent them from becoming too mushy at the end of cooking add it at the beginning and you’ll be crunching on pebbles! Here is one of my healthy lentil recipes for delicious homemade soup.

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

Preparation time: 25 minutes                                      Servings: 4                 

You can feed a family of four for under $2.00 with a soup of high-protein lentils, nutrition-packed sweet potatoes and onions. Cheese is optional and will cost a bit extra. I know it seems weird not to peel the sweet potatoes but the skins are full of nutrients and are just as delicious as white potato skins.  Just give them a good scrub and chop!

1 tsp                butter

1                      onion, chopped

1 cup               red lentils

1                      small sweet potato, scrubbed and cubed, skin on

4 cups              chicken or vegetable broth

1 tbsp              dried basil

½ tsp               black pepper

pinch               dried red chili peppers

1 tbsp              molasses

8 tbsp              grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Warm a large pot over medium-high heat and melt butter. Add onions and sweet potato; stir. Add broth and water; then lentils. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and cover. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in basil, chili peppers, pepper and molasses. Grate cheese if using and serve at the table.

About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

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