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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

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That means helping your child put names to his feelings. "When Joey wouldn't play with you at lunch, I bet you were sad," for example.

"If we can name a feeling, we can tame it," Firestone says.

Teach your child that sometimes when people feel sad it may make them want to eat unhealthy foods. Explain that when they are done identifying their feelings, they can make healthy choices to feel better. Then work together to find something that will make your child feel better.

Suggest doing something active, like taking a nature walk together or dancing to music in the living room. Explain that getting moving will help you both feel better. When you lead the way, kids are likely to follow your example.

Anger. Find out why your child is mad and then ask what would make him feel better. If someone took his toy, for example, tell him it's not OK to snatch it back, but it is OK to ask for it to be returned.

Don't tell him he shouldn't be mad. It's not about suppressing anger, it's about managing it. "When we are allowed to feel our anger directly, we can let it go," Firestone says.

After you've talked, help your child calm down by taking a walk to get rid of angry feelings. Exercise triggers the "feel-good" hormones in the brain that should help him feel better. Let him know that. Or have him listen to some soothing music to help him chill. Teach him that these are healthy ways to relax.

Disappointment. There will be times when your child is upset with the way things work out. It helps if early on she learns how to take care of herself when she doesn't get what she wants.

"We can acknowledge their feelings and, at the same time, encourage them to keep on going for the things they want in life," Firestone says. "We want them to learn they can be disappointed and hurt, but that they don’t have to give up or protect themselves by acting like they don’t care." 

 

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