The Benefits of Yoga for Children

When you hear about yoga classes for children you may be a bit skeptical. You may find yourself thinking, why? Why should my child do yoga? Won’t that be too hard for a child to understand and physically do? How would it help them? Isn’t yoga linked to religion? Why should my child do yoga when they can do other activities like riding their bike, running, sports like soccer and playing games like tag?

Whether you practice yoga or not, you most likely have heard about the benefits it provides. Practicing yoga is known to help reduce stress, promote calm and positive emotions, as well as increasing balance, strength and overall health. One of the great things about yoga is that the benefits it provides are for everyone, regardless of age. Anyone from children to grandparents can participate in and benefit from yoga.

To give you a brief history, Continue reading

Encouraging Kindness

milk bottle 2bThis month’s blog post is written by Boston Children’s Museum’s Health and Wellness intern, Marissa Veilleux. She is a graduate student from Wheelock College pursuing a degree in Child Life. Marissa is helping provide various health programs in the Museum, and she is passionate about helping our visitors learn about caring about themselves and others.

This semester I had the opportunity to design and run this year’s “Message in a Milk Bottle” project entitled Be Kind, Spread Love. I traveled to local area hospitals and schools where we created heart-shaped suncatchers and discussed love and kindness, and then transported these beautiful suncatchers to Boston Children’s Museum and hung in a window for all to see.
Visitors then had the opportunity to create their own suncatchers and add to them to this display, creating a united window of suncatcher hearts.

kindness b

But kindness cannot be taught in one day. There are many opportunities in your day to day life where you can teach kindness to your child, especially by modeling it for them every day.

Children are constantly told to be nice to others. But what does that really mean? Here are four ways to teach your child kindness during your daily tasks.

milk bottle 1b
Let’s work together.

Ask children for help with projects, like cooking in the kitchen. Ask them what they would like to do to help. When taking a walk, suggest that they pick flowers to give to someone to brighten their day. This can be used as an opportunity to talk about kindness. You can work as a team to do things like cleaning up toys. You can say, “You pick up three and I will pick up three”. Follow that with, “You picked up your toy. Thank you. That was helpful.”

Use your manners.

Walk the walk, and talk the talk. Model good behavior by saying please and thank you or no thank you to the cashier at the grocery store or to a server at a restaurant. Children learn through others. You can praise your child’s kindness by describing your child’s action and stating how their contribution benefited others. For example, “Thank you for giving your sister a toy. That was thoughtful.”

Use kind words and smile.

It is important for your children to learn to compliment people by using kind words. You can say things to your own child like, “I love the red blocks you used to make that house.” as a way of giving them an example of a compliment that they might share with their friends. You can also ask your child what they like about something. For example, “What is your favorite part of this picture you colored? My favorite part is the blue clouds.” This will teach your child a nice way of paying compliments. Smile and laugh with your child. Happiness and kindness is contagious.

It’s not just about being kind to people.

Teach respect for the earth by discussing environmental kindness, such as throwing trash in the garbage and not littering. Have your child collect cans from home and bring them to recycle at your local supermarket. Being kind to our environment in turn teaches your children to be kind to others too.

Join us for Tasty Tuesday on 1st and 3rd Tuesdays with your snacks and share your ideas of how we can help children learn kindness!

Play as Immunization: Mitigating Stress and Supporting Healthy Development through Collective Impact

Dad and DaughterThis article, written by Anna Housley Juster and Saki Iwamoto of Boston Children’s Museum, is reprinted from “The Forum”, the newsletter of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Winter 2016, Volume 17, No. 1.

Public Health Issue

Play supports healthy child-adult con­nections, social emotional skills, resilien­cy, and executive function — making it one of the best immunizations we have against toxic stress, anxiety, depression, and the behavioral issues that impede school success (Folkman and Moskowitz, 2000; Pellegrini and Bohn-Gettler, 2013; Zigler, Singer, and Bishop-Josef, 2004). In spite of the empirically proven benefits of play, including school success and stress reduction, many children across income groups in the United States are not cur­rently afforded the time, space, and per­mission they need to build the foundational skills required to live physi­cally and mentally healthy lives and to reach their fullest potential. Continue reading

Cover Your Cough and Sneeze! How to Teach Kids to Cough/Sneeze into Their Sleeves

cough and sneezeWhen I’m on the floor doing programs and staffing exhibits, it almost seems like everyone is sick as I hear people coughing and sneezing all around the Museum. As the winter approaches, our bodies have to adjust to the temperature changes, and the dry air can make us more susceptible to cold.

It’s important to practice good hygiene skills to prevent getting and spreading the germs that cause colds. The followings are some tips to help children practice coughing and sneezing into their sleeves. You can also learn more about germs and hygiene by coming to “Germ Keep-A-Way Day” on Saturday November 28 at Boston Children’s Museum!

1. Start with modeling and directing.

Little kids cough and sneeze everywhere. Even if it might take some time, it will help your child and you stay healthy if your child learns to cover his cough/sneeze. First, whenever you sneeze or cough, make sure that you are Continue reading

Relaxation for Everyone

relaxation dayWe all live in a stressful world. There are so many demands from work and other parts of our lives. Just being in environments with a lot of noise, material, and people can also add to stress. And children are not immune to this – kids are exposed to stress at an early age. If the stress becomes significant, it can lead to more serious issues such as anxiety, physical pain, and behavioral difficulties.

It’s important for both adults and children to relax. You can take even just five minutes a day to have some quiet, relaxing moments with you child, which can make a big long-term difference!

  1. What causes stress?

Stress can be caused by both everyday events and special occasions. Examples of everyday events can be scheduled activities, eating (especially if a child tends to be a picky eater), going to daycare or school, and peer relationships. Special events such as traveling, loss of a loved one, changes in routines, or moving can compound stress levels.  Even fun activities can add to overall stress, even though they are not what we think of as harmful kinds of stress. Continue reading

Enjoy the Summer with Watermelon!

watermelonSummer is watermelon season! Watermelon is very nutritious and offers a lot of opportunities for creativity for children. Enjoy watermelon while we have it fresh and ripe as a seasonal treat!

Watermelon is nutritious.

Watermelon has a lot of nutritional value. According to the USDA, watermelon is high in lycopene, even more than the amount you find in tomatoes, which are known to be lycopene-rich. Lycopene is a very powerful antioxidant that helps us maintain healthier bodies by protecting our cells from being damaged.

Also, more than 90% of watermelon is water, which makes watermelon an ideal food to eat in the summer to prevent us from getting dehydrated. Continue reading

From “Miserable” to “Manageable”

healthOn Saturday March 28th, we are celebrating our annual Healthy Kids Festival at Boston Children’s Museum. There will be many hospitals and health organizations providing activities to teach our visitors about healthcare in fun ways. But let’s face it. How many kids do you know who absolutely LOVE going to the doctor? Healthcare settings are often scary, and we don’t have a lot of control over what happens there. For young children, their fear that is fueled by imaginary thinking, lack of prediction, and previous negative experience can make the healthcare experience even more difficult.  I’ve written about how to make the doctor’s visit easier before. This time, I want to focus on distraction techniques to get through possibly difficult hospital visits! Continue reading

Happy Smiles With Healthy Teeth

dentalDid you know that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month? Children are encouraged to visit the dentist regularly starting by age 1 because good dental hygiene habits that are developed at an early age are likely to remain in adulthood.  However, although it may be easy to say “Everyone, brush your teeth!”, some children struggle with tooth brushing. Here are some suggestions on how to develop healthy dental hygiene habits:

Continue reading

Give a High Five For Your Health

high-fiveHow would you evaluate your family’s health from the previous year? Is there anything you think you did really well? Can you think of something you could have done better?

A new year is a good time to think about your own health and make your new year’s health resolution! Below are some suggestions for good health habits that you can incorporate in 5 minutes or less to improve your family’s health routine for this new year. I hope you can give yourselves a high-five for your health achievement at the end of the year! Continue reading

Happy Healthy Halloween!

halloweenAs Halloween season approaches you see fun, festive decorations, images of children dressing up, and a host of scary movies and ads. A lot of children, especially those who are older than preschool-age, spend time choosing their costumes and looking forward to all the yummy candies and other treats they will get. Halloween is fun, and it’s also a good opportunity for us to appreciate children’s development and overall health. Bring your healthy snack to Tasty Tuesday and share your plans for Halloween!

  1. Can Halloween be too scary for kids?

Many children love Halloween right from the start. But some children, especially younger children, can develop fears around Halloween. Children who are preschool age or younger may have a hard time differentiating fantasy from reality. Seeing spooky posters, TV ads, and older kids/adults telling stories can fuel a young child’s imagination and may escalate already existing fears, such as monsters lurking under the bed. This doesn’t mean that you should not participate in Halloween, nor that you should try to block all Halloween-related scary things, which would not be very realistic or even healthy. Continue reading