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Keeping a Healthy Lifestyle with Elementary Aged Kids

by Michele | February 17th, 2016 | Elementary, Seasonal

sugared cerealAhh. . .elementary school years. They are such a wonderful time of learning. Of course, not all learning is ABCs and 123s. One of the biggest revelations can be the mind-blowing introduction to junk food and mindless TV. Let me explain.

I was fortunate in that I was able to be home with my children when they were little. So, during their pre-elementary years they were home with me most of the time. They did attend preschool, but the three hours a day for two or three days a week had minimal impact on their lives. Thus, most of their world exposure was via me. They ate sandwiches made on whole grain bread, had cups of 100% juice, and watched educational programming when allowed TV time. Yes, the simple days of early children they were.

As I expected, when they entered the all-day world of first grade, they discovered that there were other things out there. White bread! Sugared cereal! Less savory cartoon characters! Yes, these items were the things of childhood dreams.

So, how is one to handle the introduction to these items? This is when discussion at home comes into play. I suppose you could say no to all of these items. However, I believe negotiation and education are your best tools. Here’s a peek into how I handled a few of these previously unacknowledged items:

  • Sugared cereal- First, I began by reviewing the nutrition labels of cereal. I was surprised to discover that most sugared cereals had nutritional values similar to the cereals my kids already ate. I made a compromise with my kids- one week of regular cereal, then one week of sugar cereal. Of course, a box had to be finished before the next was opened, which overrode the notion that time was the only requirement to get to the next box.
  • White bread- One taste of that and the kids were hooked. I get it; that bread is so soft and pretty yummy. So, I bought white bread that had better nutritional values. Plus, when packing lunch, they had to include a fruit or veggie.
  • Television- Pre-elementary school, my kids were happy watching educational shows, not that they didn’t watch the occasional mindless cartoon. Elementary school introduced them to even more mindless TV. For this, it became a show by show decision. Was a show offensive? That wouldn’t be watched. Was it a funny, family friendly show that could be a treat? Sure, we could watch it occasionally. Also, television time was limited, which made it easier to determine what could be watched.
  • Snacks- I enjoy baking, so most of the treats my kids knew were of the homemade persuasion. Once they started school, this stayed as the rule. With all of the other negotiated deals, I decided it was best to continue to skip on store-bought treats and instead bake for the kids. (Plus, this provided us with time to do something together in the kitchen.)

These were just a few of the new-to-the-kids items from elementary school and the way it worked best for me and my kids. Perhaps for you, white bread would be a no. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be done in different ways. Share with us how you do that in our comments.

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