Nourishing Your Child Emotionally Counselor’s Corner by Sharon Scott, LPC LMFT
Nourishing Your Child Emotionally
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
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Research says that the average child in America doesn’t get one praise statement a day. However, that child probably gets some reminders, lectures, corrections, discipline, nagging
from multiple sources including parents, teachers, coaches, and even older siblings.
It is critical that kids hear more what they are doing right than what they are doing wrong! Not only does that make the child feel good and motivate him to do more, but it also teaches him to be positive and praise others. (See my last month’s column for specifics on praise.)
We know how important it is to nourish children with healthy food and regular meals. And that same meal time can also nourish children in unexpected ways. Study after study finds that kids who eat dinner with their families regularly are better students, healthier people, and less likely to smoke, drink, or use other drugs than those who don’t. A University of Michigan study of children ages 3 through 12, for example, found that more meal time with the family was the strongest predictor of better achievement scores and fewer behavioral problems even better than time spent studying or in church.
So something that I’ve been doing in my private counseling practice for years has been to get families to eat more meals all together and to play the ‘praise game’ during the meal.
I’ve worked with families who hate meal time due to the arguing that goes on. And kids have reported to me that since they are captive at the meal, the parent lectures them and fusses at them about school. School shouldn’t even be discussed while eating unless the child brings it up’it’s too stressful. Another family I worked with required the children to watch the news at dinner. When I asked the father why, he replied that his kids needed to learn how dangerous the world is! Give me a break’meal time is about nourishment and should be calm and relaxing.
The praise game goes like this: have a sugar bowl or jar in the center of the table with slips of paper folded inside with each family member’s name on one of the slips. When everyone sits down to eat, each person draws a slip of paper. Each family member must say something positive during the meal about the person whose name was drawn.
The praise must be specific to something that happened in the past 24 hours such as “Mom, I really like how you helped me with my spelling words. Thanks.” or “Sis, you really look good in blue that’s a pretty blouse.” If the person draws her own name, then during the meal she must say something that she’s proud of that she did or pleased about herself in the past day.
This is a positive way to encourage a pleasant meal, teaches children to notice the good in others, and gives the body a better opportunity to digest the food properly. Nourish the soul not just the body!
Copyright ©2018, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author. Excerpted in part from Sharon’s classic parent guide: Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.
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