Thursday, February 5, 2009

MVP Parents

40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents (ages 12-18)
The Search Institute® has identified the following building blocks of healthy development—known as Developmental Assets®— that help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.
A Balanced Approach to Youth Sports

At age 20, Major League Baseball player Ryan Jaroncyk retired, saying he had never really enjoyed the game (that he had started at age 5) and had continued to play primarily because his parents wanted him to.
Being involved in a sport is a lot different for most of today’s young people than it was for their parents or grandparents. Kids start younger, train harder, play more often, forego other activities, and, like Jaroncyk, feel more pressure. For some this means the horizons are broader and brighter than ever. Sometimes, however, sports takes over a family’s life as parents shuttle between home and practice or games, spend thousands of dollars on equipment, and drag younger siblings along or leave them at home. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little bit of support and guidance from you, your children can find great fun and healthy ways to include athletics as one part of a well-rounded life.
Try it...
For parents with children ages birth to 5
Introduce babies and young children to lots of different physical activities, such as throwing and catching a ball, bike riding, swimming, and climbing.
Play with them.
Resist the urge to sign your young children up for formal, structured programs. A few children will be ready for this kind of organization, but many will find it confusing or stressful.

For parents with children ages 6 - 9
Offer encouragement and praise for participation rather than achievement. At this age, it’s best to focus on enjoyment of the activity rather than mastery.
Avoid comparing players to one another, making comments (even positive ones) about players’ abilities, or complaining about mistakes or missed opportunities. Instead, emphasize and highlight positive attitudes and experiences.
Volunteer to be a coach or team helper.

For parents with children ages 10 - 15
Encourage your child to try at least one new sport or physical activity each year or two. They may feel like everyone around them has already “picked what they do,” but most likely, that’s not the case.
Help your children think about what they enjoy and don’t enjoy about each of their activities. Make a “pros and cons” list if it helps. Some children will have very strong opinions about which things they want to do, and others will need more parental direction and guidance.
Help your children organize informal sports events such as pick-up basketball, flag football, or a rope-jumping expo. If your physical health allows, join them!

For parents with children ages 16 - 18
Monitor your teens’ health habits, especially if they are seriously involved in sports. Are they eating well, getting enough sleep, doing what they can to avoid injury? Stay connected with your children and their coaches so you know what’s happening with the team and with training.
If you have a teenager who is seriously into a sport (or multiple sports) celebrate that while also promoting balance for the entire family. This could mean taking turns attending events, making sure that there is at least a short “off season” when your teen’s body can rest and recover from intense training, talking about what’s most important to you as a family and as individuals, and being flexible about finding time to just be together when you’re not focusing on a sport.
Regardless of the skill level of your teen, don’t overburden them with the stress of trying to earn scholarships, awards, or professional contracts for their sports involvement. If your child really wants those things and has the skill to achieve them, then encourage and support them in their efforts. If not, though, their time is probably better spent focusing on school and making more reliable plans for the future.
Healthy Eating Habits
Two big challenges to raising healthy kids today are enormous portion sizes and the fact that there are so many unhealthy but tempting food choices out there. When children and teens fill up on sweets and highly processed foods, they lose their appetites for foods that have the nutrients their bodies need. As they get older they’ll be making more of those choices for themselves, so it’s never too early to start teaching kids how to make healthy, balanced selections.

Try it
For parents with children ages birth to 5
For sweet treats, stick with fresh fruit. (Babies aren’t born wanting ice cream or cookies.) Avoid refined sugar and other sweeteners as long as possible.
Breastfeed for optimal nutrition. When giving a bottle or cup, choose formula mixed as instructed or unsweetened beverages such as plain milk or water.

For parents with children 6 - 9
Serve foods close to their natural state: fresh or unsweetened dried fruit instead of fruit roll-ups; whole wheat bread instead of white; lean cuts of meat like turkey or chicken breast instead of processed meats such as sausage or hotdogs.
Set clear family rules on when it’s acceptable to eat sweets, such as desserts only on the weekends.
Talk with kids about how their bodies get energy and strength from the foods they eat. Point out that healthier choices make for more energy and strength.

For parents with children 10 - 15
Getting enough calcium is tough for kids who drink too much juice, soda, or other beverages that don’t contain it. One way you can help is by limiting the availability of those drinks in your home. You can also keep low-fat flavored milks and calcium-fortified milk alternatives on hand and serve them at meals. Though they have added sugar, it’s not nearly as much as soda, and studies show that for many kids they boost calcium intake.
Teach children to read labels and choose foods with zero trans fats (linked to heart disease), andfoodsthat are low in sodium and overall fat content.
When bringing snacks for events, choose healthy items: fresh or dried fruit; low-fat, low-salt pretzels; raw vegetables; 100% juice boxes or water bottles.

For parents with children 16 - 18
When feeding groups of teens, offer good-for-you choices such as pizza with fresh toppings, whole-wheat pita bread with cheese, fresh vegetables and dip, fresh fruit, and water or milk.
Teenagers, girls especially, are vulnerable to excessive dieting and eating disorders, which rob their bodies of essential nutrients. Keep your home stocked with lots of healthy protein sources (nuts, beans, lean meats, low-fat dairy), calcium (dairy, calcium-fortified products), whole grains (oatmeal, whole-wheat breads, brown rice, whole wheat pasta), and fruits and vegetables. If you are concerned about your children’s eating habits, talk with a doctor who understands eating disorders.

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