Unfortunately, we've all heard the ugly stories about sports parents who take their passion too far: The ones who yell at coaches, officials, and even kids (or worse, get physically aggressive at a child's game or practice). So what can we do about it? Two things: First, set a good example by displaying good sportsmanship throughout your child's season. While not every parent will get the message, some will--and so will your child, and that's what truly matters.
You can also sign the new Sports Parent Pledge from the National Alliance for Youth Sports, and share it with others. It's a simple way to declare your intention to be a positive part of the youth sports community. Once you've signed up, you'll receive a series of 6 weekly emails with helpful advice for sports parents.
If you follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my newsletter, you know that last week my daughter competed in a national championship for her sport (synchronized skating). I updated Facebook once or twice a day with reports on how we were doing.
While the final outcome for the team was disappointing, all in all the girls had a wonderful time. And in part, that came from the way the event cemented their team bond. Sure, they've been practicing, traveling, and competing together all season, but this trip gave them a lot of quality time together and some very special bonding experiences. Already, they can't wait for next season!
Photo: Catherine Holecko
As National Nutrition Month begins, let's look at some big announcements on childhood health and obesity that hit the news recently.
First, progress in preschoolers: The obesity rate for 2- to 5-year-olds dropped significantly over the past 10 years, says a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In 2003-04, the prevalence of obesity among kids that age was 14 percent. As of 2011-12, that prevalence dropped to just over 8 percent. While the CDC says the "precise reasons for the decline" are not clear, several factors may have contributed, including better nutrition and physical activity standards in child care; higher breastfeeding rates; and lower consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
Next, new school wellness standards: Schools can't feed kids junk food--and kids shouldn't see junk food ads at school either. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joined First Lady Michelle Obama to announce new, proposed guidelines governing foods and drinks marketed to kids at school. "Our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren't bombarded with ads for junk food," Mrs. Obama said in a statement. "Because when parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn't be undone by unhealthy messages at school."
And finally, new nutrition labels: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed changes to the familiar black-and-white nutrition label found on many packaged foods. The label has been around for 20 years, but has only been updated once during that time. If the changes are approved, consumers would see more information about added sugars; updated daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D; more accurate serving size information; and a more prominent display of the item's calorie count. (I pinned a sample label here so you can take a look.)
My son's ice hockey season is finally winding down (he's been at it since September!). But for kids who are curious about hockey, and aren't yet playing on a team, this weekend is the time to try it out. It's Hockey Weekend Across America, organized by USA Hockey.
Here's the lineup: Friday is "wear your favorite jersey" day, and you can share pictures of your fan-kid on Facebook or Twitter. On Saturday, kids can try youth ice hockey for free at participating rinks. And on Sunday, USA Hockey will celebrate hockey heroes. You can already read inspiring stories about them. And finally, as part of the festivities, kids can enter to win free hockey equipment from CCM. Skate on!
Photo: Catherine Holecko
There's still plenty of snow and ice outside, but my email box is filled with information and reminders about summer camp. I'm grateful for the many options open to my children, but just sorting through them all can be overwhelming! We're considering a specialized sports camp for my daughter for the first time this year. So I'm carefully reviewing this guide to sports summer camps in anticipation.
Has your child attended a sports camp in the past? Will she this year? We'll be talking all kinds of summer camps on the Parenting RoundAbout podcast next week, so stay tuned! Find us on BlogTalkRadio, iTunes, and Stitcher. New episodes typically post on Wednesdays.
If you've watched any of the Olympics at all, I'm sure you've seen the commercial that compares athletes biting their gold medals with regular people biting... chicken nuggets. Yuck! Aside from equating an incredible athletic achievement with hitting the drive-through, there's an implication that food (unhealthy food, at that) is a good reward for a job well done.
And that's just not the case. We all need food, of course, and there is nothing wrong with treats and special food for special occasions. But a box of cookies after every soccer practice isn't a good idea, and neither is buying yourself a latte and a pastry because you need a pick-me-up. Here's why food rewards are dangerous, and some suggestions for better, non-food reward options.
I often hear about new products perfect for family fitness fun. Check out these offerings that have crossed my inbox lately:
- PassBack football: This looks like a regular football but with one flat end. It allows kids to play catch by themselves because the flat end bounces off a wall to return to the thrower. ($20-$30 from PassBack Sports)
- CLIF Kid ZFruit & Veggie Ropes: This is fruit leather in a cool twisted rope form, made with organic fruit and vegetable ingredients. We received some free samples and my kids gave all three flavors a high-five. ($5 for 5, in blueberry, cherry, and mango)
- MogoSport flavored mouthguards: These sports mouthguards come in 6 kid-friendly flavors (think bubble gum, mint, and fruit punch) and might encourage kids to wear their guards more diligently. ($12 for standard mouthguard, $18 for a mouthguard that works with braces)
My kids' school has a "reading buddies" program, in which fourth- and fifth-graders read with, and to, younger students. It's beneficial for both groups, the mentors and the mentored, and the kids love it.
So I'm not surprised that a "Healthy Buddies" program can deliver big benefits too. A group of doctors, researchers, and public health experts in Manitoba, Canada, studied the effectiveness of this peer-to-peer wellness program for kids at 19 elementary schools. Nine- to 12-year-old students delivered Healthy Buddies lessons to 6- to 8-year-old peers; the lessons covered physical activity, healthy eating, and self-esteem and body image.
At the end of the study period, kids who had buddies showed a significant decline in waist circumference--with the biggest reduction coming in younger kids and those who started out overweight or obese. "Self-efficacy, healthy living knowledge, and dietary intake significantly improved in younger peers who received the intervention compared with students from control schools," the researchers reported in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
"Schools are a great place to promote healthy living behaviors in children. The results of this trial highlight the untapped strengths that our youth possess," said Jonathan McGavock, a research scientist at the University of Manitoba who co-authored the study. If your child's school has a wellness committee, this might be a great program for it to consider.
Valentine's Day is Friday. Are you ready? At least we have a full school week to get kids scrawling their names on those little cardboard squares! We'll be talking about Valentine's Day at school and at home this week on Parenting RoundAbout (our weekly parenting podcast, available on BlogTalkRadio, iTunes, and Stitcher).
During the podcast, I'll definitely be sharing my suggestions for active Valentine's Day games. They fit the love-and-hearts theme of the day while also getting bodies moving and hearts pumping. So they're a healthy alternative (or addition) to pencil-and-paper Valentine activities. (And they're fun, too!)
Photo: Catherine Holecko
The opening ceremonies for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games are underway in Sochi today. In the U.S., we can watch a delayed edition on TV tonight, follow live streams, or catch clips and highlights online (that goes for most of the sporting events too). If any of the coverage prompts cries of "I wanna try that!" from your family, here's my guide to sampling Winter Olympic sports with kids. You'd be surprised at how many you can try, no matter your climate!
Photo: Catherine Holecko