Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

How does your body feel?

By: MILICA ATANACKOVIC

Tuesday 08 January 2019

Open your hand and make it into a fist, that’s roughly the size of your stomach. A child’s stomach is the size of their fist. It's easy to see how children can easily be overfed but undernourished. A child’s relationship with food starts from day one. We must listen to children when they are saying and showing signs of hunger or fullness. We want children to see food as a source of nourishment, to avoid food and weight problems in the future, but we must balance this with food being enjoyable and an essential part of culture and rituals. Research is continually telling us that childhood obesity is increasing. The Growing up in Ireland data tells us that one in four children in Ireland is overweight or obese. The reasons are not straightforward, and one approach or strategy will not reduce levels of childhood obesity. A multidisciplinary approach with everyone working together is needed. We all have a part to play. In Early Learning and Care settings, the education and care provided must include the health and total wellbeing of every child.

However, before we start to support children’s nutrition, we must first look inward and think about our own relationship with food and how this can impact on our ability to help a child’s nutritional needs. For example, by imposing strict food rules on yourself, your relationship with food can turn rebellious; this is the same for children. It is more beneficial to show children how to balance eating for nourishment with eating for pleasure.

Within ELC settings, it is essential to support healthy habits in children. Children are born intuitively knowing how much food their bodies need. However, we can quickly end a child’s ability to control how much food they eat. When we use milk/food to comfort babies and young children, the message we send is that you need food to help you manage your feelings. Alternatively, you can use soothing words and hugs to comfort a child. We should avoid using food as a reward, attention and positive words support a child more holistically. It is vital that we don’t insist on a child finishing everything on their plate or use bribes such as dessert. By providing a safe, supportive and nurturing environment, you support children to cope with their feelings positively. By talking about how hunger can make us feel tired, angry, frustrated; we encourage the child to recognise how their body feels. But also, when we explain how food works in words that make sense to them, they can start to understand how the body works and all the amazing things it can do.

Also, I would argue that when we solely focus on nutrition, we forget our food culture. Here in the office at Early Childhood Ireland, food brings us together, we share breaks and lunches together, celebrate birthdays, fundraisers, you could say we have our own traditions and ways of celebrating with food. These beautiful social moments that food engulfs are ritualistic. Likewise, mealtimes in a setting are an excellent opportunity to model to children about nutrition, to connect and share conversations on and about the food we eat, but also to share stories and share food together. We can also encourage children to enjoy their food, smell it and look at it. Creating habits that keep them in tune with their body. By involving them in the preparation of food, they’re more likely to try new foods they picked. By role modelling a balanced lifestyle without restricting the enjoyment of food, we ensure a balance of ‘sometimes’ and ‘everyday’ foods.

The development of lifetime healthy eating and physical activity habits begin in childhood. As adults, we oversee the diet and activity habits of children in our care. It is not up to the children to take responsibility for this. All children are different, but all children live in their bodies all the way through life. Together we must teach children to trust, listen and love their bodies and lay the foundations for body confidence and healthier outcomes as they age.

 

Bio:

Milica (Mili) Atanackovic is a Practice and Training Manager with Early Childhood Ireland. Her background in the early years is rooted within a passionate interest in Creative Arts. Mili originally studied Design Communication before moving into Early Childhood Care and Education in Australia.  Considering training and mentoring as a key element of quality in the early years, Mili has worked as an Educator, Service Manager and Trainer, she also combines experience from a range of creative disciplines to her work.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

pablo(1) risk(2) Infectious diseases(1) Advocacy(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Ceremony(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Queues(1) Training(2) budget(1) Nutrition(1) education(2) Wrapping paper(1) Fabric(1) Routines(2) Learning Story(1) Book Review(1) play therapy(1) NAEYC(1) Children's Voice(1) Community involvement(1) iOS(1) value(1) Budget 2019(2) Vertical grouping(1) Nonverbal(1) Syria(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Orla Kenny(1) Facebook(1) Learning Journal(2) Sequins(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Performance Management(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Craft(1) Love(2) Investment(2) dublin(2) Role play(1) phone apps(1) Imagination(3) curiosity(3) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Valentine's Day(3) Learning journals(1) Biting(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Human Resources(1) Map(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Your place(1) Leaders in Practice(1) New Appointments(1) Confident(1) First 5 strategy(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) blog(35) Learning Stories Award(3) Consent(1) Autism(4) reading(5) Plants(1) Celebrate(1) behavioural science(1) Certificate(1) Laughter(1) science(3) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Síolta(118) annual conference(1) Sweets(1) Thinking(1) aistear blog(3) Communicating(1) meals(3) Childhood(1) UD(1) movement behaviours(1) Children and families(1) Awards 2019(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Self Help Skills(1) scéalta(38) Irish(1) Thanks(1) outdoor play(6) Breathing(2) Gardening(1) Kids Own(1) awards 2020(1) journey(1) Santa(2) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Glitter(2) pets(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) early life(1) Magnavacchi(1) early years research(2) Wesco(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Building Resilience(1) Favouritism(1) Gratitude(1) art of the relationship(1) Window(1) Painting(1) story time(2) Leprechauns(1) Running(1) Maths(5) under 3's(3) educarer(1) Impact(1) GDPR(1) staying connected(1) Technology(3) Pre-School Services(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Inspections(1) child-centric(1) Academics(1) Quality(4) Wonder(1) experience(1) Masterclass(2) Treasure(1) Support(1) Vietnam(1) play stories(2) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Maternity Leave(1) Elders(1) life long learning(1) GoToMeeting app(1) ears(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) risk assessment(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Mo Scéal(1) keezy(1) Body Language(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Giraffe(2) Laugh(1) conference(1) Competent(1) Policy(2) christmas(9) role playing(1) ERASMUS+(3) Graduate(1) National Awards 2018(2) Potential(1) documentation(4) San Miniato(4) COVID-19 crisis(1) Cork(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) TOY Programme(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Scents(1) Twitter(1) supportive environments(2) planning(1) Family(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Buddies(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Photographs(1) Exit interview(1) play pods(1) Bereavement(2) Smiles(1) Iceland(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) relationships(17) Behaviour(3) Nuturing interactions(1) Rich Documentation(1) Meet the Members(1) social science(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Diversity(1) Research Seminar(1) Administrative Burden(1) science week(2) Iraq(1) Empathy(1) Traffic Lights(1) Limerick(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Trade Unions(1) gender stereotype(1) Maths Week(1) outdoors(3) Reopening Childcare(1) Health(2) Thank you(1) interacting(2) Spiders(1) Yoga(1) emotions(2) development(8) Through the looking glass(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Recycling(2) Culture(2) Pen green(1) worries(1) Playschool(1) Positivity(1) environments(1) Afghanistan(1) racism(1) UNCRC(2) School Age Childcare(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Síolta QAP(1) Covid pandemic(1) Seas Suas(1) RIE philosphy(1) family time(1) COVID-19 Reopening(1) PIP(1) research submissions(1) CPD(1) AsIAm(2) Decision Making(1) Mealtimes(1) Change(1) youdoodle(1) Music(3) Trade union(1) DES Inspection(1) Universal Design(2) HR(1) Socioemotional development(1) animals(2) Creative(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Mount Everest(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Norway(2) Fantasy play(1) Trick or treat(1) Mental Health(3) Reggio Emilia(1) Appreciation(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Covid19 crisis(1) Touch(1) The Jelly King(1) Storytelling(6) learners(1) Arlene Forster(1) Early Childhood Ireland(3) College(1) Sculptures(1) Study Trip(1) Stress(2) toddlers(3) Interaction(1) MA(1) Awards Night(1) Care routines(1) Event Guide(1) keep in touch(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Participation(2) Supernanny(1) reopening ireland(1) Wendy Lee(3) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Visitors(1) Mayo(1) Equality(1) Fee Play(1) NCCA(3) memories(1) Maria Montessori(1) Professionalisation(5) Maynooth University(2) ECEC(2) MECPI(1) Brain(1) Pobal(1) The Lullaby Book(1) European Project(1) Shoes(1) Kerry(1) Communications(1) Blocks(1) Aistear(122) SAC(1) Winter(1) ELC(1) Degree(1) conversations(1) Recycle(1) EECERA 2016(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Horizon 2020(1) DCYA(4) Qualifications(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Digital Devices(1) refugees(1) friendships(1) curriculum(5) Performing(1) Workplace Relations(3) code of professional responsibility(1) STEM(3) Feeding(1) Malaguzzi(1) baby room(1) Jenga(1) Engineering(3) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Treasure Chest(1) Interests(1) Rituals(1) Digital(1) risky play(2) Exploring(1) Arts(1) Magda Gerber(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Social Skills(1) Games(1) TRAP(1) Pobal sector profile(1) books(4) Lego(2) Little Buddies(1) routine(2) ECEC Setting(2) Well-Being(9) Art(6) Interactions(2) Sustainable(1) Learning Stories(9) maternity health(1) Summer(1) Upcycling(1) Snacks(1) Trigonometry(1) play(34) Sustainability(3) Identity(5) Affordability(1) Mud kitchens(1) Sleep(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Adoption(1) Family wall(1) childcare services(1) Children's Rights(3) Awards(2) United Nations(1) University(1) stories(3) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Care-giving routines(1) IGL(1) Motor neuron disease(1) E.coli(1) Names(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Environment(2) First 5(1) Kilkenny(1) Grief(1) Sessional service(1) Workplace well-being(1) Independence(1) Plastic(1) Children(4) Xbox(1) bloom app(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Belonging(3) Magic(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Maynooth(1) Infection Control(1) preschool(4) healthy eating policies(1) Workforce(1) Online(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Time(1) Challenges(1) dining experiences(1) Capable(1) play pod(1) Halloween(2) Mark Twain(1) Shapes(1) collaboration(1) EM Standing(1) Builders(1) Document Learning(1) overhear(1) june29(1) food(1) Book Club(2) Patterns(1) Italy(1) Children's Research Network(1) Educators(2) Engineers Week(2) Tuscan Approach(2) St. Patrick's Day(1) Academic Skills(1) Reading Time(1) children development(1) Awards 2018(3) Department of Education and Skills(1) Playdough(1) learning bias(1) respect(5) linc(1) outdoor space(3) Story(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Primary School(2) Visual Impairment(1) Mixed age groups(2) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Titles(1) Funding(1) Inspirational(2) National Awards 2019(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Montessori(3) Graduation(1) Light table(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Exercise(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Weather(1) bonds(1) eating(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) research(6) Inter-generational learning(2) purpose(1) babies(7) Engagement(1) Flowers(1) listen(1) Early Years(1) Identity and Belonging(4) INTO(1) Self-regulation(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Research Conference 2019(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Line-ups(1) Frustrations(1) Celebrations(4) Meal time(1) Leargas(1) Drawing(2) Death(2) Snakes(1) Exclusion(1) Intention(1) Our Little Seed(1) listening(1) Mindfulness(2) National Holiday(1) AIM(2) Oireachtas(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) learning(19) Party(1) Mantra(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) educating(1) continual professional development(1) Time Out(1) Sport(1) social media(1) Albert Einstein(1) community(5) Inspired Practice Award(5) Traditions(2) Loss(1) Obesity(1) Home Corner(1) Self-Esteem(1) Design(1) Budget 2018(1) grandchild(1) Childcare(3) Inclusion(3) Youtube Series(1) Relaxation(1) Decisions(1) transitions(10) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Penguins(1) feisty(1) primary education(1) Japan(1) COVID-19(5) Pedagogy(1) Arithmetic(1) code of ethics(1) CCTV(1) Prexit(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) gender bias(1) Scéalta Blog(99) Snack Time(1) SPICE Framework(1) early childhood educator(2) Settling in(4) Early Years Educators(3) Reggio Children Network(1) Margy Whalley(1) structure(1) Leadership(1) trust(4) Scéalta Book Review(1) parents(6) ICBN(1) ECCE(7) communication(4) Child mental health(1) developing motor skills(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) emotional environment(2) early years learning(1) Budget 2020(1) Employee(1) Cognitive development(1) Mathematicians(1) Creativity(4) show and tell(1) Whole Group(1) Eritrea(1) apps for children(1) Opportunities(1) Anxiety(2) preschool settings(1) Siolta blog(8) CIT(1) child-centred approach(1) ReCreate(2) lockdown(1) mushrooms(1) Wilenski(1) Dance(1) Easter(1) Reflective Practice(1) dining(1) RTE Investigates(1) dogs(1) Inter-generational(2) Child Care(1) imotion(1) InspireMe.ie(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Buddy Bench(1) man up(1) Confidence(1) Reggio(1) Teamwork(1) Staff Motivation(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) UN(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine