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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: Distractibility

This refers to how easily your child is drawn away from something he's involved in.

  • Less distractible: You may find it easy to introduce a new food or activity, since kids with this temperament are likely to focus intently on new things. For a less distractible child, you may find they want to narrow their attention in on a single activity, like jumping rope.
  • More distractible: To help easily distracted kids eat better, remove distractions, Welsch tells WebMD. Turn off the TV and radio, have everyone in the family eat at the same time, and don't overwhelm this type of child with too many choices. When it comes to being active, he may enjoy moving from one physical activity to another -- for example, from kickball to running, and then biking.

Temperament Trait: Sensitivity

This trait relates to how much your child responds to sensory stimulation like bright lights, loud sounds, and food textures. Does she tend to ignore them, or do they bother her?

  • Less sensitive: Kids with this temperament probably won't be troubled by new foods, but they can be inclined to charge full steam ahead with activities, playing hard until they're worn out, for example. You may want to give your less-sensitive child a gentle reminder to take a break from activity now and then.
  • More sensitive: This child may reject a new food if the texture is strange or it feels funny in her mouth. To get her to eat better, give her choices. For example, offer three new foods instead of one. If she doesn't like any of them, next time try three others. Some sensitive kids are bothered by little things like seams in their socks or tags in their shirts. They may not like to wear a special uniform or equipment for a sport. Again, if this sounds like your child, try to give her choices.

Changing Behavior Takes Time: Think Baby Steps

Working with your child to make healthy changes involves your temperament as well his. Sometimes your temperaments may clash, and you may need to adjust your parenting style. Things won't always be smooth and easy. Just remember it's not about making change in huge leaps. It's OK to take small steps instead, Rose-Kayser says.

Whether your goal is to get your kids to exercise more or eat better, celebrate little successes with specific words. "Thank you for trying those carrots I cooked tonight" will be a lot more powerful than a vague "good job."

Understanding and accepting your child's temperament can have rewards beyond today. "Just helping your child understand how they can cope with their temperament can help them throughout life," Rose-Kayser says.

 

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