Talk about feelings
Encourage children to use words to talk about their feelings. Children may have a wide variety of emotions. Are they worried, sad, angry, overwhelmed, or embarrassed? Let them know: "It's fine to feel this way." Comfort them by talking about specific things you are doing to help your family.
It's fine to say "no".
You may feel stressed if you're not able to buy things your children ask for. In these moments, try to remember that it's all right if children don't always get what they want. You're working to get them the things they need. Tell children, "I know you want to buy those cookies now, but we have to save our money to buy healthy foods we need, to keep us strong." In fact, it's valuable to set limits for children.
Reassure older siblings
You may notice big brothers or sisters making sacrifices without being asked. They may choose to skip meals or encourage their younger sibling to eat less food. Reassure them by saying: "Our whole family needs to eat and keep our bodies strong. You need to eat, too." Offer ideas for positive ways they can help the family. Older children can help make a shopping list, plan menus, and prepare meals.
Talking about food with children can be fun. Ordinary moments can provide great chances to teach children about making healthy food choices—and to spend time together. Try some of these conversation starters:
In the kitchen
- Can you help me find the ingredients we need for this recipe?
- Let's make a rainbow salad with colorful vegetables!
At the dinner table
- Sweet potatoes are my favorite food because they remind me of when...
- Let's tell a story: Once upon a time, there was a little vegetable seed...
At the store
- On our shopping list, there's a fruit that's red, shiny, crunchy and round. Will you help me find it?
- Let's look at the labels to check which cereal has less sugar.
TO BEST TAKE CARE of your children, try to keep your mind and body healthy, too, by doing things you enjoy. Take a break if you need it — ask a trusted adult if he or she can take care of your child for a short while. If you work on staying healthy, you help your whole family know that they can, too.