Doing Life Together

ID-10065950Rena, a charming three-year-old, stares at the carrots, potatoes and chicken on her plate. She tells her mom she doesn’t want any of it. No matter what is served, Rena wants to eat mac and cheese and hotdogs. Her mom is concerned about her nutrition so continues to place the healthy foods in front of Rena.

Rena, like other kids who refuse to eat a variety of foods,  is a picky eater–a child who limits her foods to a selective list. According to studies, about 14-24% of preschoolers are picky eaters at least some of the time.

However, because a behavior like picky eating is common, does not it mean it is harmless.

According to Duke researchers, parents of  moderate to severe picky eaters,need to pay attention. A study published in Pediatrics indicates that picky eating is associated with more than eating habits.

Children that had severe levels of picky eating were twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression and social anxiety than kids who ate a normal range of food. And kids with moderate levels of picky eating were more likely to have symptoms of depression, anxiety and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder than the non picky eaters. Over time, picky eaters also had a higher risk of developing anxiety as they aged.

So what can a parent do to help avoid future mental health concerns? Intervene now. Follow these suggestions from my book, Raising Healthy Kids in an Unhealthy World based on the research of Dr. Kolp-Jurss:

1) During a stress free time of day, tell your child the expectation is to eat all 3 meals a day.

2) There will be no special meals. He/she eats what the family eats.

3) According to Dr. Kolp-Jurss, it may take up to 20 mealtimes before your child re-engages so you have to persist with this strategy when the going gets tough.

4) If your child resists, tell him/her that is his/her choice. Inform when the next meal will be. Do not make the child sit at the table for hours until he/she eats. This only becomes a power struggle.

5) Eventually, the child will get hungry and be ready to engage at the next meal. The important part is to not give in during the retraining.

“Conflict is an inevitable reality. Like a car flying down the interstate, our body shuts the windows and locks the doors to contain all our pain. Conflict moves in a set direction on four wheels – distress, anger, fear and guilt. A rearview mirror allows us to focus on the past so we’re not blindsided. The steering wheel of perception guides our direction, and sin fuels the conflict.

But it’s our pride that steps on the gas pedal. God gives us His wisdom, a brake pedal so we can stop. It’s always there, right beside the gas.” —MA Strategic Communication student, Eric Pilgrim

This quote from a student addresses one of the most important issues that can block conflict resolution in a relationship–PRIDE.

Pride …

stops us from going to a person with whom we have ought.

keeps us from looking at our part of the conflict (A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something that’s above you.–C.S. Lewis)

blinds us to the need for humility and listening to the heart of others (A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor– Proverbs 29:23).

puts us first, others last and wants to win (Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud– 1 Corinthians 13:4).

leads to arguments (Proverbs 13:10).

prevents us from saying sorry.

makes reconciliation difficult, if not impossible.

Are you in a conflict with someone and not making any headway in terms of resolving it? Consider pride as a possible root of the problem.


children sleepingPreschool, a time of fun activity, hands on learning and playing with other children.

But preschool social interactions may tell us something about the future direction of those children. What if I told you that watching the play and interaction of nursery school kids could help us identify future criminals?

A soon to be published study in the American Journal of Public Health observed pre-schoolers to see if their social-emotional skills told us anything about their future potential. Researchers at Penn State University, Duke University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Washington conducted a study that followed 700 children over 20 years. These children were observed sharing with others, being helpful to others, and resolving peer problems on their own.

Teachers then rated the children on eight dimensions using a five point scale regarding social interactions.

When those same children were in their late teens to age 25, they were assessed again on five key areas:  education and employment, public assistance, criminal activity, substance abuse and mental health.

Children who were successful in nursery school were also successful on the five areas assessed as young adults. But the chances of being arrested or living in public housing were increased for those who received lower scores as children. The study did control for factors like poverty, stress, neighborhood crime, etc.

The results are not cause and effect, but may point to the need for early intervention. Social and emotional skills can be taught and improved throughout life. And if better skills could impact a child’s future adjustment, they would be worth some attention.

So while preschool may be a time of play, the way children play can possibly tell us a few things about their future.


Girl textingIt’s a common sight. People texting and walking.

I admit. I get annoyed when I am walking in a big city and someone walks into me because they are texting on their phone. Everything inside of me screams, “Look Up! Pay attention! You are a danger on the street!” But are they?

Ahhh, the pros and cons of texting while walking seem to be gaining research interest. So let’s begin with some good news.

A group of researchers studied the effects of mobile phone texting while subjects walked and negotiated barriers simulating pedestrian traffic. What they noticed was that the people in the study changed the way they walked.

Specifically, they shortened their step length, reduced their step frequency, lengthen the time during which both feet were in contact with the ground and increased obstacle clearance height. In other words, they adapted their gait (walk) to the challenges of the environment caused by their distraction of being on the phone. Their changes kept them from walking into people or objects. It did take the distracted walkers longer to get to where they were going than the “normal” walkers. But they were more cautious. I guess slow and steady was at work here.

I know, it seems counterintuitive I feel like I am running in to more people who are distracted on their phones. And it is only one study on a small group of people. Others studies have observed people weaving, losing their balance, etc.

The downside: Posture is affected by texting while walking. Our bodies are in a hunched position while our hands are texting away. This impacts balance. Your head down tends to make you weave more and lose balance. It can pull the spine out of alignment causing neck and should pain. Some have dubbed this, “text neck.”

So the jury is still out. Meanwhile I suggest more looking up. If nothing else, a good posture is worth the change. And is anything really that important that you risk running in to someone on the sidewalk? A little more courtesy could do us all some good.