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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

  This content is selected and controlled by WebMD's editorial staff in collaboration with Sanford Health Systems.

Temperament Trait: Intensity

This refers to your child's emotional energy. Is she mellow, or does she react strongly (negatively or positively) to situations?

  • Mellow: Kids who are more mellow tend to be low-key in their response to new foods and activities, Rose-Kayser says, so it may be more difficult to know what they like. When in doubt, ask.
  • Emotionally energetic: Help kids with this trait eat better and exercise more by offering them lots of choices. Because this child's interests may change quickly, expose her often to new foods (without pressure) and provide positive reinforcement for even her small efforts of trying or tasting new foods, Welsch suggests. Try serving food in fun ways: Cut vegetables or sandwiches into silly shapes, offer dipping sauces, or serve foods on cool plates. And give her choices of physical activity (bike ride? neighborhood walk? team sport?), multiple exposures to new activities, and lots of positive reinforcement.

Temperament Trait: Approach/Withdrawal

This refers to your child's first response to new people, situation, foods, or other changes. Is he quick to check them out? Or does he shy away from new things?

  • Approaches quickly: This child may naturally enjoy trying new foods and sports.
  • Hesitant: A child who holds back needs more encouragement to try new things. He's also more likely to try something new when he knows what to expect, Rose-Kayser says. Try offering a new food three or four times, or asking him to help make dinner. He will probably prefer physical activities at home, in a small group, or with friends he knows, Rose-Kayser says. This child may require a bit more patience from you -- it may take more than a dozen tries before he likes a new food.

Temperament Trait: Persistence

Does your child have a short or long attention span? Does she stick with things, even if problems arise? Or does she give up easily and say, "I can't”?

  • Gives up easily: A child with this trait may want to give up quickly on new foods, but don't you give up trying to interest and encourage them. Welsch suggests offering foods in different forms (for example, offer vegetables cooked or fresh, preparing them different ways). You can also pair a new food with an old favorite. And definitely continue to make healthy choices for yourself. Your child will notice and follow. Physical activities may take longer to learn if this child gets overwhelmed easily. Celebrate her successes. "Praise specifically if they try an activity and stick with it," Rose-Kayser tells WebMD. "And don't just praise the end result, but the whole process of trying."
  • Persistent: Getting a persistent child engaged in a new activity or even new foods may be easy because persistent kids usually like to finish things. They may even be competitive, Rose-Kayser says, depending on their other traits.



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