9 Ways to be a Good Sports Parent

Kids Cross Country - hamming it up

Good Sports Parents Don’t Stuff Up the Car Trip Home

In the US, about 20 million kids register for competitive sports each year. By the time they are 13, just 30% of those kids are still playing sport. And the really sad thing about the other 70%, is that they will never play sport again. That is, not ever.

Whilst I don’t have figures for Australia, anecdotal evidence certainly points to a large number of kids (especially girls) dropping out of sport and physical activity in their early teens. That’s here, in Australia, where we have one of the best all round climates for outdoor sport in the world.

So how do we keep our kids involved in sport into adulthood?

Kids Stop Playing Sport When it Stops Being Fun

According to research, the number one reason kids drop out of sport is because it’s not fun. Very reasonable. Most adults don’t choose to do things which they don’t find fun. So why would kids be any different? The research, conducted by George Washington University, showed the top 6 things which made sport more fun for kids were

  1. Playing your best
  2. When coach treats player with respect
  3. Getting playing time
  4. Playing together well as a team
  5. Getting along with your teammates
  6. Exercising and being active

Further down the list were things such as

  • Winning (#48)
  • Playing in tournaments (#63)
  • Getting medals or trophies (#67)
  • Getting pictures taken (#81)

Take another look at those lists. Playing your best was the number one factor which kids felt made sport fun. Winning (which many of we adults think rocks) ranked only 48th on the list of factors that make sport fun for kids. And that’s what it should be about. Kids sport should be fun for kids, not a competition between parents.

So if we want to keep kids playing sport well into adulthood, we need to make sport fun. Much of making sport fun comes back to the parents. Parents are pretty involved in kids sport these days in Australia. I wonder if sometimes parents don’t have just a little too much invested in their kids’ games.

Best Coaching Exercise Ever

A couple of years ago, I coached an under 10’s soccer team. Whilst I was reading up about coaching, I came across an exercise which I thought was absolutely awesome. It went something like this.

  • Get all the parents together.
  • Give half of them orange bibs, half of them green bibs.
  • Put them on the soccer field.
  • Have all the kids stand around the outside of the field, with instructions to help their parents play, by yelling out where they should be on the field, what they should be doing with the ball, etc. Tell the kids to keep giving them helpful instruction, and to make sure you yell out loud so their parents can hear them.
  • Blow the whistle to start the game
  • See how well the parents play when they are constantly being told what to do and not given a chance to think for themselves.

9 Ways to Be a Good Sports Parent

# 1. Give your child some space

When was the last time you stood over your child in a maths exam and cheered every time they carried the one, or grimaced when they made a mistake? When was the last time you gave them step by step instructions on how to do their homework, without giving them a chance to figure it out for themselves? I’m betting the answer here will be never, or at least not very often. With their school work, we trust them enough to give them the chance to figure things out on their own. Then we give them help if they ask for it.

I’m not sure why this is, but with sport, some parents simply can’t resist the temptation to tell their kids what to do, where to be, who to mark, when to pass the ball, when to take a shot. We’ve all  heard “that parent” on the sideline. What many of us don’t realise is that we do it ourselves, even if it is at a much calmer level than “that parent”. Mostly, our “help” is well meaning,  but every time we tell our kids to “have a shot” “pass the ball” “mark a player” we are depriving them of the opportunity to develop their strategic thinking.

The reality is, if your child could make a play down the sideline, or read the play and be in position to intercept the ball from the attacking team, or if they could have scored the goal, won the race, passed the ball…they would have! There’s little point telling your kids to “run faster” or “try harder”, or “use the space”. It’s a bit like telling them to be taller.

If you really want to help your child develop their skills, keep in mind that the heat of the moment is not the best time to assimilate new information. Leave the coaching to the coach, and show your kids you enjoy watching them play, not watching them be outstanding. Cheer them on, shout out “Go Thunder” (if their team name happens to be “Thunder” that is), but don’t act like your kids are playing sport for your entertainment. If you find you’re screaming like a crazed Sea Eagles fan at Brookie Oval on a Friday night, you might need to take step back so that your child (and everybody else’s for that matter) can enjoy the game.

#2. Trust the Coach

In order for you to trust your child’s coach, you need to find out a bit about them. You can ask them directly about their coaching philosophy. Ask them if they plan to give all kids equal time on the field, what’s their aim for the season, what sort of things will the kids be doing at training?

Many of the coaches you’ll come across, particularly when your kids are young, will simply be the parent who has been good enough to put their hand up, so don’t bombard them with questions the minute you meet them. They may not have thought about it too much themselves when they first start out. But it is important to find out about the coach so that you can trust that they will develop your children’s love of sport, not crush it. So make it your business to engage the coach in conversation so that you can learn about them, and they can learn about you and your child. Make sure you approach the conversation in a non-judgmental manner.

Observe the coach at training and at games. If their values don’t match with yours, talk to them. I’ve heard of cases where parents don’t feel they can call the coach out on inappropriate behaviour because they don’ want to rock the boat and have their kids singled out, but it is NEVER ok for coaches to swear at kids or be generally abusive towards them to “toughen them up”. People like that have no place coaching our kids.

#3. Give the coach some space

 Most coaches will appreciate you giving them space to train your kids. Once you’ve established that you’ve entrusted your child’s athletic development to someone who is worthy of that trust, keep away from the pre-game and half time huddles. Hand your child over to the coach for the duration of the game, and stay out of it, unless there is a real reason for you to be involved. Don’t criticise the coach in front of your kids. The same goes for the referee and other match officials as well! If you have an issue with the coach, take it up in private.

Try not to be the only person who has a significant influence in your kid’s life, because there will be a time when they will need to learn something that you won’t be able to teach them. Gift your children a good relationship with a great coach, which you have little part in.

#4. Know That it’s Okay for Your Kid to be a Ball Hog

It frequently happens in the younger age groups which are not graded, that there are one or two outstanding players on the field or court. Parents of these outstanding players are often tempted to tell their kids to pass the ball, not wanting it to appear that their child is being a ball hog. Whilst developing good passing skills is important, so is developing the ability to dribble and control the ball in an individual play. Kids need to be able to develop the confidence to make a play themselves. Leave it to the coach to decide if someone is being a ball hog. And remember, it may not be that the child is deliberately trying to hog the ball. Awareness of where other players are on the field comes to kids at different developmental stages, so it just may be the child doesn’t know where to pass the ball, or how to get a pass away.

#5. Make Learning More Important Than Winning

Feeling outside pressure to win doesn’t do a lot for our children’s enjoyment of sport. If they can view each game as an opportunity to learn more about the sport, and more about how they play it, it takes the pressure off a bit. I’m not saying kids shouldn’t want to win. There’s nothing the matter with a child being competitive, but your enthusiasm for your child’s victory should not be greater than theirs!

As a sports parent, it’s your job to remind your child that if they love the sport, and devote themselves to the love of that sport, the wins and losses will take care of themselves. In other words, life is a journey, not a destination. If you really love the sport, it won’t matter so much if you win or lose.

#6. Remember It’s Not About You

Remember your child’s sporting success or failure is their success or failure. If you find yourself saying “we scored three goals today” or “we played poorly today”, might be time to take a look at just who it is that’s playing the game. Unless you hold an official position on the team such as coach or manager, you’re not part of the team. You don’t win, lose, play well, score a goal, need to improve your positional play. You are not part of your child’s sporting team, so try to use language that reflects that

#7. Don’t Make Your Kids’ Sport a Contest Between Parents

If you have kids who play sport, at whatever level, you’re going to be spending a bit of time watching it, and you’ll enjoy it more if you’re not comparing your child to others. Proving to yourself and anyone else who will listen, that your child is a better athlete than the next kid, doesn’t prove you’re a better parent, or your child is a better person, or that they are going to have a better life! There is no evidence that shows elite athletes are any happier in life than average athletes.

Twenty years down the track, it’s unlikely to matter who won the under 10 netball grand final. What will matter however, is what the under 10 netballers learned from playing sport, and how that is put into practice in the rest of their lives.

One of my kids ran at national level in the cross country last year. All a bit of a surprise, and it was certainly an eye opener with respect to parental aspirations.

What I hope he took away from the experience, was a mutual respect for the kids who he competed with and against. I hope he remembers the massive game of AFL the Queenslanders, Victorians and New South Welshmen had after the race, far more than the race itself (and I think I’d be saying that even if he’d have won the race!) It was so awesome watching a bunch of 11 year olds who barely knew each other, running and kicking and jumping together for the sheer joy of it, when shortly before they’d been trying to run the pants off each other.

To me, that’s what competing at any level in sport is about. The people you meet and the experiences that you have along the way.

True story. A few years ago just before my 50th birthday, I was leafing through my box of lifetime memorabilia, and found a program for the State PSSA Athletics carnival of 1975. I had completely forgotten that I’d even been to that carnival. But there was my name, in black and white, in the Under 12 Shot Put. I like to think that’s an example of how insignificant that carnival was in the general scheme of things, rather than of my failing memory!

#8. Help Your Kids Accept Defeat

Kids need to learn that victory and defeat are both sides of the same coin. The coin is of the same value, whichever way it lands when it’s tossed. Losing sporting contests can be heart breaking for kids (and for adults). If you’re not prepared to have your heart broken, don’t play competitive sport.

Parents can help kids get over their heart break relatively quickly. Often nothing needs to be said. A simple pat on the back or a smile goes a long. You don’t need to say too much. In fact you might not need to say anything at all. Your kids will know how you’re feeling just by looking at you, so you’d better make sure you’re not feeling frustrated, annoyed or angry with them, as they’ll pick up on that.

I’ve played sport most of my life, so I’ve had my fair share of sporting disappointments. I remember a couple of those disappointments particularly, not because of the result itself, but because of the support of those around me. A simple hug of understanding from my Mum when I missed out on making a state team, and a night out on the town with my boat crew when we missed out on winning an Australian Title, are two of my most treasured sporting memories (not saying I wouldn’t have preferred to have won that Austalian Title mind you!)

#9. Don’t Stuff up the Car Trip Home

 The car trip home is not the time for analysing the game. Win or lose, your kids don’t want to hear you talk about what they did right or wrong, or what they could have done better. Sometimes when things have gone wrong, you don’t want someone to tell you how to fix it, you just want someone to listen to you if you feel like talking. If you’re a Dad of a sporting kid, that might be a bit harder for you to understand, but believe me, on the car trip home, your kid does not want you to approach their sporting performance as a problem you can fix (apparently being Mr Fix-it is more a man thing).

Advice of this nature often feels better for the parent who is giving it, than for the kid who is receiving it. The car trip home, after a win or a loss, is often when your child just wants to sit back and let the game sink in. You don’t have to make conversation to make them feel better after a loss. They’ll know if they played well or badly. And they’ll know you know.

What do you say on the car trip home?

Head of player and coach development at Australian Baseball, Peter Gahan suggests the only thing that needs to be said on the car trip home is……

” Geez I loved watching you play out there”

Running Helps Kids And Teenagers

Kids Running Helps in Teenage Years

If you’re a runner yourself, or you do some other form of exercise regularly, you’ll know just how good exercise can make you feel. As a parent, I love that my kids love to move – they love all sorts of sports. Our neighbourhood affords them the perfect environment to be on the move constantly, trying out all sorts of games from cricket, basketball, street “ice” hockey, soccer, footy, swimming and cycling, and many more games which are the products of their own imagination.

I love that it keeps them physically fit, but the two things I really like about it are the social aspect of their activities, the negotiating and compromise, sprinkled with plenty of self-righteous indignation, and secondly, and just as importantly, that they are being set up for a life-long love of exercise.

That love of exercise is likely to come in pretty handy during their teenage years. It means there’s a good chance their teenage frustrations, experimentation, rebelliousness, risk taking, and energy overflow, will find a healthy outlet in sport. There’s a good chance they can use exercise to help elevate their mood if they’re feeling down, there’s a good chance they can go and run the streets to get their head together. There’s a good chance they’ll form some very strong and supportive friendships within a sporting team. And yes, I know. There’s an extremely good chance that they won’t be angels, no matter how much they exercise, and that I’ll soon be embarking on what could just be the most challenging years of my life.

We all want our kids to be safe and happy. Helping them to enjoy exercising is one thing we can do for them when they’re young, which could go a long way towards doing that. There’s an interesting article on exercise and depression, and how a group of teenagers use running to combat the black dog, which you can read here

How Running Helps Kids and Teenagers

  • Distance running is a great sport in its own right, and it’s also a good way of getting fit for other sports. It can be of great value to kids who are lacking a bit of confidence when it comes to team sports, especially those sports which demand a high level of skill. With running, kids can very easily see how much they improve with a little persistence and tenacity, and they don’t have to compare themselves to anyone else.
  •  Simplicity – all they need is a pair of shoes and they can head out the front door and be running
  • Efficient use of time – you can get maximum training benefits in only a short period of time. You can easily fit in a 10-20 minute run in a study break, and clear your head. Not so easy if you have to go somewhere before you can even start exercising. And you can get a high level of physiological benefit from short bursts of running.
  • You don’t need expensive gear – shoes and a t-shirt and shorts and you’re done
  • Running can improve your child’s aerobic capacity, meaning they can last longer before tiring in other sports such as soccer, netball, rugby and hockey. Note, however, that most kids pre-puberty are not capable of more than a 5-10% improvement in aerobic capacity, but they can greatly benefit from the additional improvement that can result from running more efficiently, learning how to pace themselves, and greater confidence and motivation.
  • Running is a weight bearing exercise, which means it’s great for bone building. This is especially important for girls, as women are for more prone to osteoporosis than men are. In girls, 90% of peak bone mass will have been laid down by the time they are 18, and boys will have 90% of their peak bone mass by the age of 20. It’s vitally important then, that kids lay down bone mass in their teenage years. Bone mass can keep growing till about the age of 30, when it then holds reasonably steady. In the first few years after menopause, most women go through rapid bone loss which can lead to osteoporosis. We pretty much need to stock our bone bank as full as possible, before the body starts to make withdrawals from the account in later years.
  • Running just makes you feel good. Some of you may disagree, but if you do it right, and don’t try to push yourself too much too soon, it really can make you feel awesome.

How do you encourage your kids to love sport?

The best way to get your kids involved in sport, is to do it yourself. Make sure your kids see you enjoying exercise, not doing it as a chore. Join them in a fun run, kick the ball around with them, play cricket, shoot a few hoops. Yes, sometimes it’s boring, and sometimes there are a million other things we think are more important to do, but if having your kids fit and active is important to you, then the best way to get them involved, is be involved yourself.

At a young age, kids should be encouraged to give as many sports as possible a go, not only the ones they think they are good at. Organised sports, or just mucking around with friends can keep kids physically fit, take their mind off schoolwork, help them to relax, and help them to make friends. In fact I was just talking to a friend yesterday who’s son started a new school this year, where most of the kids in his class were new to the school. He took his handball, picked the sportiest looking kids in his new class, and asked them to play. Hey presto. Instant rapport.

Doing a variety of sports will help with well balanced neuromuscular development, and team sports will help them to understand the selflessness often required for a team to be successful. Sports can also help give kids self-confidence, however if kids are pushed into sport in a win at all costs environment, it could have the opposite effect.

Encourage your child to be patient if they are not achieving their desired results. Show up to their events and cheer their improvements, regardless of whether they win or lose. There are very real physiological reasons why kids may not see massive improvements in their results, even if they are training the house down.

For kids who show promise at an early age, the temptation is to get them training, a lot. However very often, it’s a case of less is more. You’ll want to help them maintain their enthusiasm, whilst their body matures enough to be able to respond better to training.  Understand that adult training programs aren’t going to be effective for kids. Kids and adults bodies work differently. No matter how many kms  you have your 9 year old pounding out each week, (and risking injury) kids’ aerobic systems simply don’t respond to that kind of training in the same way we adults do. It’s important to keep training for kids fun, interesting, and importantly, appropriate to their development.

Hooked on Running kids’ running groups are conducted by highly experienced kids’ running coach Richard Sarkies. If you’d like some help getting your kids moving, and doing the right kind of training, leave your details and we’ll give you a call about a FREE TRIAL at our running groups for kids and teenagers.

Or if you’d like them to get some race experience and instruction, come along to one of our Kids Cross Country Races. The 5 race series begins Feb 22nd. Find out more

What Pace Should My Kids Be Running

Rating of Perceived Exertion for Kids Running

 

Use this scale to help your kids figure out their running pace.

We use this modified Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) at our Kids Running groups, to help kids run at a pace suited to their fitness level and the distance they’re covering.

If your kids are not used to running, they should start off at an “I can run like this all day” pace, and work up from there.

More experienced runners can use the scale to assess how they feel when they run, and how long they can last at each level. Then on race day, they’ll be able to keep to a realistic pace amongst all the excitement.

Kids Running Rating Of Perceived Exertion

 

Download this printable graphic to help your kids run a great cross country race.

Download the printable PDF

 

 

 

How To Prepare For Your School Cross Country

Kids Running Lindfield

Kids Running LindfieldAt some time in their primary school career, your child will be expected to enter their school cross country. It can be a traumatic event for some kids, whilst others can’t wait till they’re old enough to get amongst it!

 

Make sure the experience is a great one for your kids, which will leave them wanting to do more. Use these tips on how to prepare for your school cross country.

 

  • Start to talk to them about the cross country in very general terms. Simply looking over the school calendar for the term and happening to notice when the cross country is on, is enough just to plant the seed initially.
  • Do some exercise yourself. Make exercise just something that your family does, not a big deal
  • Get your child familiar with the course of their school cross country. If you don’t know where they run, ask the school, or ask us. We know a lot of the courses used by local schools. Walk over the course with your child so that they know what to expect.
  • If you can’t go over the actual course, get your child to at least walk over the distance of the race. Don’t say something like, “it’s like running from here to the shops and back”. That can seem an awfully long way to kids. Much better to travel over the distance on foot with them.
  • If they are happy to do some training, go for a run with them, or get them running with friends. Try to get them to run slowly with you. Most kids will take off at the rate of knots and be puffed out after a couple of hundred metres. You don’t want this to happen on the day of the event. They will definitely go too fast at the start of their school cross country if they don’t practice running slowly before hand. Try to teach them ‘Jogging’ pace, or ‘No Puffing’ pace. They’ll still go too hard, but it should pull them back a bit.
  • Practice racing. Nothing makes you better at something than practice. Even if they don’t practice in a formal situation, get them racing against you or against their brothers and sisters, or friends. Remind them to slow down at the start so they have enough puff left at the end.
  • Whilst your child will feel great about themselves if they run the whole distance without stopping, try not to let them get so worked up about the event that they see themselves as a failure if they don’t make the distance.
  • Prepare them for what to do if they do feel too puffed to continue. Walking for even 20 metres can be just enough time to recover and pick up to a jogging pace again. Make sure they know this is ok.

 

Some kids take naturally to distance running, and absolutely love it from the start.  If your kid’s one of those, here’s a few tips.

 

  • Go in fun runs with them
  • Time them doing laps around the local oval
  • Emphasise the fun aspect of running
  • Let them decide how much running they want to do. Don’t force them to train if they don’t want to, but do use gentle reminders and encouragement.
  • Practice cross country racing, even if in an informal setting.
  • Do some running with them, or organise for them to train with friends
  • Encourage your child not to be too outcome focused. Placing well in a cross country race is awesome, and your child should be proud of themselves. Remember to acknowledge the effort as well as the achievement though.  At some point, every child, no matter how good they are, will be beaten, and if it’s been all about performance from the start, it can be terribly deflating, especially for those who are a bit fragile. Looking in the mirror and honestly being able to say you’ve done your best can go a long way to easing the disappointment

 

Awesome Kids Running Training Groups run on weekday afternoons on Sydney’s North Shore and Northern Beaches. Find out more

Cross Country Races run on Sundays in February and March. More info

 

 

Too Much Food For Kids: Candy Canes Drive Me Mad

candy canes drive me mad

Dear School Principal

 

My son has just completed kindergarten at your school. He is not yet 6 years old. Over the past 2 weeks leading up to the end of the school year, he has recieved some lovely Christmas wishes from many of the children in his class. Most of these Christmas wishes have come in the form of a card and what many people call a “treat”. This has resulted in him receiving the equivalent of 350gms of candy canes and in excess of 120gms of chocolate.

 

And that’s just what I know about! He and his brother have an understanding with us that they will bring home any food they are given at school, and my husband and I can help them to decide if they should eat it or not, so thankfully he has not eaten all of this.

His brother who is 8 years old, whilst not receiving quite as much candy, has also had an excess of food coming from the school over these last couple of weeks, including a class party on the last day of school, just in case the children weren’t going to get enough to eat over the Christmas period.

My six year old’s haul of goodies yields the following:

 

350 gms candy cane: 1400 kilocalories (yes, kilocalories, not kilojoules)

120 gms chocolate: approx 600 kilocalories.

 

That is a total of 2000 kilocalories, well in excess of the recommended daily energy intake for an average adult female! What’s even more scary is that for the most part, if kids are eating this stuff, they are eating it over and above their other food. Let’s face it, a candy cane or two certainly doesn’t fill you up like a nutritious bowl of lentil caserole and brown rice would!

To balance out the extra energy a child would take in if they ate 2000 calories, they would have to not eat for at least a day and a half, or do the following exercise over and above their current exercise levels, during the 2 week period they were consuming the sweets:

  • 2 hrs of cycling
  • 2 hrs of running
  • 3 hrs of walking

No six year old is going to do either of the things necessary to counteract the extra calorie intake. We don’t expect our kids to stop eating for a day and a half to two days, nor do we expect them to exercise for an EXTRA 7 hours over and above what they normally do in a two week period. Mine already run/jump/cycle/surf/swim themselves ragged.

So what’s the solution?

This is a request for you to show leadership on this matter and implement a policy which greatly restricts the amount of food children are given in our wonderful school. That would mean:

  • Eliminating food to be sold as fund raising
  • Moving Australia’s biggest morning tea to actually be at morning tea time, rather than before school, meaning kids have breakfast, cake and cordial at 9am, fruit break morning tea, lunch etc
  • Celebrate childrens’ birthdays withouth bringing in cupcakes
  • Sweet free lunch boxes
  • An overhaul of the canteen menu
  • Eliminate the practice of teachers giving children food as reward for good work or good behaviour – I was totally surprised about this one

This is a very hastily written note which only touches on the surface of my concerns and ideas for what we, as a school community could do to turn things around, so I would be very pleased to discuss this further with you.

 

Wow – what an eye-opener

If you have concerns about how much food your kids get at school, add your voice below!

School Holiday Activities

If you are looking for some low cost holiday activities to keep the kids moving, here are some ideas. I know there are loads more things to do out there, so please add any of your own ideas to the list.

 

Watch some aeroplanes. The street to park in to watch the planes is  KYEEMAGH Ave in Mascot. It is offGeneral Holmes Dr heading towards Brighton Le Sands.

Thanks to Merrin Dhond’t for this one.

 

Treetop Adventure Park

http://www.treetopadventurepark.com.au/home.php Highly recommended. I went with kids aged from 3 to 9 and they all loved it. A bit challenging for the younger ones in parts, and aLOT of patience required as a parent, but well worth it. Just checked the website again for pricing and the price has recently increased from $20 to $25 for 2 hrs for kids under 10, but if you go with a group of 10 or more you’ll received a 5% discount.

 

Take a train to Woy Woy , then a short walk down to the wharf and picnic with the pelicans. Someone in the wednesday morning group suggested this one.

 

Jump on the Palm Beach Ferry and go to Ettalong markets-apparently pretty good if you like markets. Not the cheapest day out as a return adult fair is $20, kids $10. Markets operate each weekend. See the Palm Beach ferries and Ettalong Markets websites. http://www.palmbeachferry.com.au/ http://www.ettalongmarkets.com.au/index.php?section=1

 

Go to the beach!! The water is really warm at the moment – I spent over 2 hours in the surf the other day-both with and without kids.

 

Make the most of local walking tracks. So many of us live near bushland. We took the kids through the bush down to Davidson park the other day (underneathRoseville bridge) and cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast. Got to say Saxon (nearly 5) was over it by the time we starting making our way back up the hill, but it was worth the complaints to see wallabies, blue wrens and a massive goanna in the wild, not to mention numerous wildlife species (at least 10- we had to count them for entertainment on the way back home) Take your running shoes with you and do a 3 km time trial along the road. Start at the parking metre at the boat ramp and stick to the river side of the road. You’ll find we’ve marked out 250m, 500m, 750m, 1km and 1.5km (all in yellow on the left side of the road).

 

Walk up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse, accessed from the northern end of Palm Beach. Tours are conducted every Sunday at a very low price, but it’s probably better to go during the week when there are not so many people on the path. If you feel like a challenge, take your running shoes with you. The track is very easy now that it has been paved. It used to be one of my favourite runs from the southern end of Palmy up to the lighthouse and back, and the views never cease to take my breath away. Alternatively, walk around the headland, but make sure it is low tide and someone knows where you are and when you should be back –just in case.

http://www.lighthouse.net.au/lights/nsw/barrenjoey/barrenjoey.htm#Access

 

Boogie boarding in the sand dunes at North Palmy. Will cost you absolutely nothing. Go back after dark without the kids! A favourite haunt of Kerry Furrer (during the daytime that is)

 

Walk across the harbour bridge. It’s free!

 

Ride a bike. It’s free!

 

Fairfield CityFarm – a bit more pricey. $20 for adults, $12 for kids, under 3’s free. Vouchers available on website for one free child entry per transaction per day. Quite good for the under 7’s. It’ll be hot out that way though!

http://calmsleyhill.com.au/city-farm/colouring-in-competition

 

Amazement. Found in the Yarramalong Valley. Mazes, animal farm and a few other bits and pieces. Haven’t been there myself, but have heard good reports. $16 adults, $12.50 kids, under 3’s free. http://www.amazement.com.au/index.php

 

Add your cool school holiday suggestions in the comments box now.

 

Kids Won’t Eat Vegetables?

There’s nothing more satisfying than putting lots of love into a meal and having your children really enjoy it. Conversly, there’s nothing more frustrating than having the expectation that your children are going to love something you’ve cooked for them, and then have them refuse to eat it, or worse still, tease you by puttting it into their mouths and chewing, then spitting it out.

As parents, there are so many ways we can make ourselves feel guilty. Not feeding our children a balanced diet is just one more thing to beat ourselves up about! Ideally, children should be offered vegetables from a very young age, and be encouraged to eat vegetables by your example. If you don’t eat enough vegetables, it’s unlikely your children will. Research shows that the ‘number of foods kids like does not change much from the age of two or three to age eight’ and that ‘new foods are often more likely accepted at age two to four than at four to eight.’ That doesn’t mean that it is too late to get your older kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, but rather that they won’t do it on their own and that you are going to have to work at it.

 

Of course we’d all like our children eating vegetables, but the reality is, many children simply don’t go for vegetables by choice. That’s when you need to resort to vegetables by stealth. Use a food processor to chop vegetables very finely, and add to everything you eat. Curries, spaghetti bolognese, and nachos are dishes that lend themselves to vetetables by stealth. Use a large variety of vegetables including those which they would never eat on their own such as brussels sprouts. At the same time, you still need to be offering your children whole vegetables. They need to see them on their plate to get used to the idea of eating them. There’s no need to make a fuss if they don’t eat the whole vegetables on their plate. As long as they are eating the hidden vegetables in the meals you have prepared for them, you can just smile, satisfied in the knowledge that you have won the vegetable battle without them even knowing it.

 

Some other ides for getting your kids to eat vegetables are:

  • offer chopped veggies with a dip, such as hommous
  • serve vegetables as a stir-fry
  • let your child help prepare the meal
  • start a vegetable garden at home so your kids can eat the vegetables they grow or visit a farm or farmer’s market.

 

Vegetarian Nachos

Finely chop vegetables such as onion carrot brocolli celery (including some leaves) red capsicum spinach (small amount) brussels sprouts (no more than two as they have a strong flavour)

Add all vegetables to a frying pan, along with a couple of tins of organic tomatoes. Simmer. Note you do not need to fry any of the vegetables in oil.

Whilst the  vegetables are cooking, add in some garlic, a small amount of sugar and some tomato paste.

Blend one or two tins of kidney beans or canellini beans to a thick paste, and add to the mixture. Stir well, and simmer for another couple of minutes.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C

Layer corn chips, vegetable mixture and a small amount of cheese in a large baking dish, finishing with corn chips and a layer of cheese. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cheese melts. Serve with mashed avocado and cherry tomatoes.

If you have any quick and easy vegetable rich recipes of your own, please share them by posting them below.

Reference: http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/nutrition/kids_vegetables.html