Search

Noel Janis-Norton explains healthy eating, playing up at bedtime and homework

PUBLISHED: 13:20 28 March 2013 | UPDATED: 13:20 28 March 2013

Children being taught using an iPad.

Children being taught using an iPad.

Archant

Child behaviour specialist Noel Janis-Norton answers questions from north London parents about how to minimise day-to-day problems

Q: My daughter keeps coming downstairs after bedtime. How can I get her to stay in bed?

A: Most children need more sleep than parents realise. Don’t make the mistake of putting children to bed too late, as they’ll get a second wind and will not be feeling tired. Be brave – put them to bed earlier.

Food is fuel for action. In order for children to feel tired by bedtime, they usually need to have eaten all their food for the day, including snacks, several hours before. That gives them time to use up all that energy before bedtime.

Routines reduce resistance. Having the same bedtime routine, doing the same things in the same order, helps children relax into sleep.

One reason children play up at bedtime is for attention. Children do need our attention so it’s a good idea to schedule some one-on-one time with each child earlier in the day, so that they will not be so tempted to misbehave at bedtime.

Paradoxically, telling children to try to sleep actually keeps them awake longer. The effort of trying makes them tense and keeps them from falling asleep. It’s better to tell your child that all she needs to do is lie still with her eyes closed and think about something nice. This will help her to relax, and she will drift off to sleep.

Q: How can I convince my children to eat healthy foods?

A: Food preferences are a matter of habit. If we allow children to regularly eat foods that are not very good for them, they will soon come to want and expect those foods.

To prepare for success, only have healthy foods in the house.

Make sure your child hasn’t had a snack for several hours before a meal.

They’ll be hungrier and therefore more likely to eat what you serve without whingeing.

Some children have a contrary streak and they want to do the opposite of what we want them to do. So don’t urge them to eat certain foods. Instead, give them lots of positive attention when they are eating the foods you know are good for them.

When we make dessert a reward for eating healthy food, it feels to children like they have a mountain to climb to get to the sweet treat. It makes the healthy food taste like sawdust.

Instead, start each meal with a tiny portion of some food you think your child might make a fuss about. Your child’s natural hunger will probably lead them to eat. Over time they will get used to the taste.

Don’t let a meal drag on while your child sits mutinously staring at the vegetables. Instead, set a timer for about 20 minutes. When the timer goes “ding” the meal is over and the kitchen is closed until the next meal or scheduled snack.

If you’re consistent with these suggestions and don’t nag, your children will soon start eating what you put in front of them.

Q: My son is tired when he comes home from school and just wants to play. How can I motivate him to sit down and do his homework?

A: Children need an active break between school and homework. Otherwise it will feel to them like all they ever do is work. Once children have let off steam, they are usually much more willing to sit down and tackle their homework and chores.

Children may believe that the only way they can relax is in front of a TV or computer. But screen time demotivates children. Make sure that electronics are a reward that comes after homework has been completed to your satisfaction. This is highly motivating for most children.

Manufacturers know how to make foods appealing to children, loading them with sugar, salt and fat. Avoid these non-nutritious snacks. A healthy snack makes it much more likely that your child will be willing and able to concentrate.

n Noël Janis-Norton is a learning and behaviour specialist and the director of the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting Centre in West Hampstead. Her new book, Calmer, Easier, Happier Homework is published by Hodder & Stoughton and costs £14.99.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Stories

Arsenal beat Leicester City 3-1 at the Emirates after a Mesut Ozil masterclass helped beat Claude Puel’s Foxes to make it ten wins on the bounce for Unai Emery’s impressive side.

Arsenal hosted Leicester City at the Emirates on Monday evening. Read on for Layth Yousif’s PLAYER RATINGS

19:21

Tie to take place over weekend of November 9-12

18:00

Cricklefield Stadium in Ilford to host talent ID evening this week

17:00

Herts/Middlesex One: Hitchin 38 UCS Old Boys 3

Herts/Middlesex One: Hendon 19 Thamesians 14

The Bostik Premier club made up for last season’s 4-2 loss at home to Heybridge Swifts at the same stage

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate stories

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now